2019 CUSA QB Preview: UAB
When talking of UAB during this current offseason, every conversation consists of people asking “how are they going to replace 15 starters from last year?”. That question is fair and should rightfully be talked about, however the answer is easy and straight forward. The same way every team replaces starters, by starting someone else. The coaching staff has had all of spring, will have summer workouts, and all of fall to figure out who is replacing those 15 guys. I think it is a conversation worth having, but shouldn’t be blown out of proportion. This is largely due to having arguably the best head coach in Conference USA, Bill Clark. I trust Clark and his staff to do their job, just like last year, and have 15 new starters playing at a high level. Another reason not to blow it out of proportion is returning quarterback Tyler Johnston III (who I will refer to as TJ3 the rest the article for simplicity sake).
Solid quarterback play can help hide and cover up weak areas from other positions. I am not saying there is going to be a big drop off in play from the new starters, but there is to be expected growing pains as each guy transitions at a different pace. Having a quarterback like TJ3 will help ease those growing pains. With that said, I am done talking about what everyone else is talking about when it comes to UAB football, which is replacing the 15 starters. TJ3 started only five games last year for the Blazers, but they were five big games and his only lost starting came at Kyle Field against Texas A&M. While there is still plenty of room to grow for TJ3 and still valuable experience to be gained, his play in those five games not only showed his potential, but demonstrated what he was currently capable of under center. Blazer fans have plenty to be excited about with TJ3 under center for the next few years and should be looking forward to his first full year starting in 2019.
2018 QB Performance
*A.J. Erdely’s senior year he started 9 of the 14 games for UAB. 1,539 yards passing, 56.1 completion percentage, 257 yards rushing, 12 total touchdowns, 7 interceptions.
* Erdely had a better junior year, but still did a fine job as a senior and was a part of 7 of UAB’s wins.
* TJ3 had 5 starts. 1,323 yards passing, 57.1 completion percentage, 359 yards rushing, 15 total touchdowns, 9 interceptions. He will be a redshirt Sophomore in 2019.
* TJ3 had the only two 300+ yard passing games of the season.
* UAB was 10th out of 14 teams in CUSA in passing yards per game with 204.4. 10th in completion percentage, at 56.2% , and 7th in passing touchdowns with 18.
2019 QB Preview
TJ3 comes into the 2019 season with five starts under his belt. Those five starts weren’t just get anybody either, each game had important ramifications that he played in. Two of his starts were conference games, one of his starts was against Texas A&M, another start was the Conference USA championship, and the last start was the Boca Raton Bowl. The success he had last year and the potential he demonstrated in his limited time playing has given the Blazer fans something to be excited about. TJ3 is a dual threat quarterback who isn’t afraid to take a deep shot. His willingness to throw it deep and often, as well as his ability to run when need to, makes him hard to defend from a defensive backs perspective. While the deep shots open up the field, and you saw more big plays from the offense with TJ3 under the center, it can also lead to some unwanted throws and incompletions with such a low percentage type throw. TJ3 threw 9 interceptions in just 5 starts with a completion percentage of 57.1%. Some of those numbers had to do with the deep shots taken. I think you will see improvement in these areas as he gets some more experience under his belt and takes what the defense gives him. I love the gunslinger mentality he has and it is what makes him who he is as a quarterback, but continuing to learn how to take care of the ball and take the shots when needed will help him in taking the next step as a quarterback. With all that said, what he did in five games as a starter was impressive. With TJ3 as the solidified starter, the Blazers will be looking to develop the depth behind him. Dylan Hopkins, David Hendrick, and Bryson Lucero will all provide depth at the position.
Let’s look at a few clips of TJ3 from last year and see what makes him a quarterback to get excited about.
Below is a clip of TJ3 against Texas A&M. There is man coverage on the outside and a perfect ball is thrown where only the receiver can catch it, great catch as well.
Below is another clip against Texas A&M. It is third and 8 and his read side (bottom of screen) receivers are running an out and a seam. His read side is covered and he does a good job coming off that and going to the back-side routes and delivers a good ball on a dig route from the outside receiver. Also takes a hit while delivering an accurate ball.
Below is a clip of TJ3 connecting on a deep pass against NIU in the Boca Raton Bowl. They took this deep shot the first play of the game, which helped open up the entire field the rest of the game.
Last clip here. Below is a clip of TJ3 showing his ability as a runner. Watch the corner come flying in and the move TJ3 puts on him that leads to a big play.
All these clips are brief examples of things TJ3 does well. They show his ability to throw the deep ball, throw an accurate ball in tight coverage, go through his progressions and convert on 3rd down, and his ability as a runner.
As mentioned earlier, the talent and potential shown by Tj3 last year is a big reason for Blazer fans to be excited. Yes, there will be 15 new starters, but with a quarterback like Tj3, it will be easier to transition. He still only has five starts under his belt and a lot of room to grow, but I expect him to build on what he did last year. As long as he is healthy, UAB will be in contention for the CUSA Championship again.