UAB football will open the 2021 season on Wednesday, Sept. 1 against Jacksonville State Gamecocks in Montgomery at the Cramton Bowl. With this being the only game happening that day, the nation will be able to watch what both the Blazers and Gamecocks can do.
“I think it’s a big deal for our kids and [Jacksonville State’s] program to kick the season off. You know that’s a big honor,” said UAB head coach Bill Clark. “We’ll be playing in front of the whole nation, so I know everyone is gonna play well.”
Clark first came to the UAB football program back in 2014 and oversaw the Blazer’s return to play in 2017 after the program’s shutdown.
UAB has won two of their last three conference championships with 17 starters returning from last year’s championship team, including 11 “Super Seniors” who utilized their extra year of eligibility due to COVID-19.
Jacksonville State won the Ohio Valley Conference last season and reached the quarterfinals of the FCS Championship.
“We’ve had a really good summer camp,” said Clark. “Now we turn our focus on this first game. They’re gonna be a real quality opponent.”
Clark will face his alma mater and former squad for the first time. Clark graduated from JSU in 1990 and led the Gamecocks to an 11-4 overall record during his one season as head coach in 2013.
“There were some hurt feelings, and they probably haven’t forgot about that,” Clark said when asked about playing the program that he was at before coming to UAB. “But that’s a special place to me. That’s where I went to school, where my wife went to school; my dad lives right there by piedmont, and my son went to school there.”
Cornerback TD Marshall and offensive lineman Colby Ragland are two of the “super seniors” returning this year.
“It’s weird. You start college as a freshman and play and you don’t think about that last season and it just sneaks up on you,” said Marshall when asked about going into his final season. “I’m just in work mood. I’m ready.”
Marshall played at Samford before coming to UAB in 2019.
Ragland is on the preseason watch lists of the Outland Trophy and the Wuerffel Trophy for this season.
“Knowing that we have all five returning starters for the offensive line come back, it’s a blessing. Also, we know that without the O-line, nothing goes. Championships are won in the trenches. We know the responsibility that we have and we welcome it,” said Ragland about his offensive linemen teammates.
UAB and Jacksonville State kick off at 6:30 p.m. in Montgomery. The game will be televised on ESPN and available to listen to on WJOX 94.5 in the Birmingham area.