BIRMINGHAM – Playing its fifth-annual Children’s Harbor game, the UAB football team hosts Rice on Saturday for Homecoming at Protective Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on ESPN+.
THREE THINGS TO KNOW:
- This year’s game marks 500 patients honored since the partnership between UAB Football and Children’s Harbor started in 2017. UAB will wear its alternate grey and lime jersey with names of Children’s Harbor patients on the back, and the jerseys will be donated to the patients after and the game. UAB is 4-0 in Children’s Harbor games.
- UAB is coming off a 34-0 victory at Southern Miss to improve its record to 5-2 overall and 3-0 in Conference USA play. The Blazers exceled in all three phases of the game by outgaining the Golden Eagles 388-107, and also added a special team touchdown on a blocked punt and recovery by Grayson Cash. Cash was named the Conference USA Special Teams Player of the Week for his efforts.
- The Blazer defense is finding its groove and has allowed just 398 total yards combined in its last two games (291 vs. Florida Atlantic, 107 vs. Southern Miss). UAB is currently 31st nationally in total defense and looks to keep its streak alive of finishing top 10 in total defense as it has each of the last three years.
Head Coach Bill Clark
“It was a big game for us on Saturday. We talk about the next game; we are talking about championship games every week. Southern Miss is a long-time rival. It was a top to bottom effort from defense dominating, to offense having a really great first half and special teams with a blocked punt. I liked our energy and the way we started. The offense came out and played really hard in the second half. The defense kept playing well. We had a fumble at the goal line that we weren’t happy about. But overall, just a great performance.
“We turn our attention to Rice this week. Coach Bloomgren has done a really good job there and coming off a tough loss against a good UTSA team. For us, we are not looking at records or what happened in the last game. We know that Rice is very well coached. Coach Bloomgren and I go back a long way. They do a lot of things offensively and defensively. They are probably one of the toughest teams in our league to prepare for. Their offense has about 40 different formations and defensively they are very multiple and solid in the special teams. It’s a big game this week. It’s Homecoming for us. As I told our players today, Homecoming is not what you may think of. This is not where you pick some opponent to go beat. We’ve played some of our toughest opponent that have been this Children’s Harbor game. This game is probably one of my favorite things that we’ve done at UAB. You’re talking about some really special things – bringing our program back, the new stadium, the new facilities – all of the things that have happened here, this stands out to me as one of my favorite things that we do.”
On staying focused…
“We talk a lot about being 1-0. When I see that when I’m speaking and the guys are giving me head nods. We talk about it so much, we talk about it in January. Every game is important. Now we add the Children’s Harbor element this week. To me when we start talking about playing for somebody other than ourselves, which is really what this is all about. We are a product of people believing in us and fighting to bring us back. With this game, we are playing for the names on our back, even more so than the name on the front. It’s been something that our guys have embraced and knowing who we are playing for. I know Rice is going to come in ready to play and get their best effort. They are a team that doesn’t quit or give in. We are going to have to be ready, but I think we will.”
On Children’s Harbor game…
“Being an old high school coach, being a part of your community and involved. I was involved with our youth teams and junior high programs. Coach John Neal and I were sitting around talking about Children’s Hospital. I got talking about Children’s Harbor and Jack Crowe and LeAnn Crowe and my friendship with them. What I’ve seen out of Children’s Harbor just being around them. I said ‘Man, wouldn’t it be cool if we could do something to recognize those guys.’ We were talking about an alternate uniform and that is where we game up with the idea. I reached out to LeAnn and she was all for it and we made it happen. I think that this has been one of the coolest uniforms with the helmet and the logo. It all just came together. I cannot tell you how many times someone will come up to me – it’s a dad, it’s a former patient – saying ‘Coach, I was at your game, I am still in contact with your player.’ I still have guys on the team that have stayed in contact with the patients. I really do think it’s that special, it is a big deal to me. Being able to partner with Children’s Harbor is a big deal for us.”
On meaning of the game…
“The meaning of it and the understanding of what the game is about. We put a banner up on the field that I saw yesterday. How special is it to see the names of the 500 patients we have honored. It’s a big deal. I talk a lot about history, I talk about who you are playing for and these guys know it. Being able to draw attention to a great cause. It’s something they (Children’s Harbor) do every day is taking care of people and taking care of kids and families, it’s a big deal.”
Cornerback Starling Thomas V
On playing in the Children’s Harbor game…
“This game is always special. Even last year when I missed the game, I still had a jersey. Me representing Knox Zobrosky is going to mean everything. I just want to give it all to him this week. It gives me something more to play for.”
On the vibe going into the game…
“We know it’s Homecoming, but that is not the main focus. The focus is really just another championship game and playing for the names on our back. We can see the hospital right across the street so we know that we have to play for them. They can look over and watch us practice and we know that their eyes are on us this week. We are focused on the game.”
On what the game means to you…
“This game is heart-warming. Sitting up here talking right now, I can feel it in my heart. Going through it I know how hard tough Knox is as a kid. I just want to give everything to him this week.”
UAB Football single game tickets at Protective Stadium start as low as $20 and can be purchased by clicking here or calling the UAB Athletics Ticket Office at 205-975-UAB1.
Discounted group tickets and fan experiences are also available for a minimum purchase of 15 tickets to any home football game during the 2021 season. Complete the UAB Football Group Ticket Request Form or download the UAB Football Group Ticket Order Form by visiting the group tickets page.