UAB Blazers to battle the Miami University RedHawks
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Blazers and the Miami University of Ohio RedHawks got their final practices and walkthrough sessions in at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium yesterday, in preparation for today’s Hometown Lenders Bahamas Bowl, that will be take place at the same venue. They will battle for the Prime Minister’s Cup, starting at 11:30 a.m. today. The game will be aired live on ESPN. Admission is free to Bahamian residents.
The game is the first of the 2022 bowl season in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and the only current bowl game outside of the United States.
The Blazers (6-6, 4-4 C-USA) will be representing Conference-USA (C-USA) and will be making their seventh bowl appearance. This is their second trip to The Bahamas. The RedHawks (6-6, 4-4 MAC) will be participating in their 14th bowl game and they represent the Mid-American Conference (MAC). They will be playing their first game outside the continental US since a road game in 2001.
Both teams were at a press conference at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium yesterday to discuss today’s game. Head Coach for the RedHawks Chuck Martin said that he will look to stop the run as the Blazers are very good on the ground.
“UAB really likes to run the ball, they’re fifth in the country in rushing this year. If we don’t stop the run that’s going to play in their favor. We have to do a good job, we cannot give up big plays. They have a very stingy defense, but we have to get big chunk of plays in the pass game and when we do, we’ve been good. Both teams kind of want to do the same thing,” Martin said.
As mentioned earlier, this is not the first time that the Blazers have traveled to The Bahamas, having done so in 2017. They lost that game 41-6 to the Ohio University Bobcats. Interim Head Coach for the Blazers Bryant Vincent said that his team is very experienced.
“We’ve got 21 seniors on this football team who have played a lot of football for UAB, and who have won conference championships, the only two conference championships in school history. We’ve got 21 seniors who have been a part of the only two bowl wins in school history, so there’s been a lot of history here that this team has been a part of,” Vincent said. “They’re excited about the opportunity to play and win that third bowl game, but the focus with this football team has been phenomenal. The leadership, the character, the perseverance when it’s time to relax and enjoy themselves in The Bahamas, we’ve been able to do that, but they also understand what they’re here for. They’ve been able to switch gears. When it’s time for business and it’s time for practice and meetings, everybody’s been on time. Everybody’s been locked in.”
Redshirt freshman quarterback Aveon Smith said the team has come to The Bahamas to win a bowl game.
“It was cool to get the experience, as I got to spend time with my coaches and my teammates, whether it was playing on the slides or just hanging in the lobby. At the end of the day, we came here to win the bowl game, so when it’s time to log back in, we will do that.”
His teammate, linebacker Ryan McWood, said they are ready for the game.
“Yesterday (Wednesday) we got back into the game planning and practicing, just having that switch inside you to say we got practice for two hours today, let’s lock in for that. It’s been awesome to have a lot of guys buy into that, so we’re ready to go,” McWood said.
It’s no secret that the teams have watched hours of film on each other. Blazers’ redshirt junior offensive linesman Will Rykard said they know that the RedHawks play defense hard.
“Defensively, they play hard, they play good football,” Rykard said. “They’re disciplined up front. We know we’re going to come out, play hard and play good, but at the end of the day like every game, we think about us. We go there, we handle what we’re supposed to handle and do what we’re supposed to do, and it will be alright.”
Both teams are staying at the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island and said that they have enjoyed the amenities and hospitality of the resort since they arrived in the country.
The 2021 Bahamas Bowl featured Middle Tennessee of C-USA and the University of Toledo of the MAC. Middle Tennessee won that game 31-17 after scoring 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.