By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
It’s not a good thing to have your back against the proverbial wall against Southern Miss, considering the kind of season the winless Golden Eagles are struggling through. But that’s where UAB found itself last Saturday.
At least the Blazers responded, and they have Darrin Reaves largely to thank.
The sophomore running back posted a 200-yard rushing day and helped UAB battle back for a 27-19 win. Reaves’ performance continued his recent turnaround.
Reaves has run for 389 yards and five touchdowns in his last two games. His 223 yards against Southern Miss are the second-highest single-game total in UAB history.
Marshall coach Doc Holliday has taken notice. The Thundering Herd (4-5, 3-2 Conference USA) is still struggling against the run, currently 11th in the league at 223.0 yards allowed per game.
“(Reaves) took the game over in the second half,” said Holliday, whose team will visit UAB at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Saturday. “They won that game because of the running game. Reaves being able to run the football like he has creates a lot of issues with play action and in the passing game. They’re doing a much better job at running the ball. Adding that dimension of running the ball is going to make them that much more dangerous, especially with the play action.”
Holliday said Reaves’ recent success can be attributed to improved play up front.
“They had a freshman in there playing and had some players banged up,” Holliday said. “They did a nice job blocking Southern Miss in the second half and found a way to get the run game going, and I think that won the game for them.”
With the running game improving, the Blazers (2-7, 1-4) have the capability of scoring points. Despite their record, they average 29.8 per game and are fourth in C-USA in total offense at 423.4 yards.
“When you talk about UAB, you have to start with their offense,” Holliday said. “They’re scoring a lot of points on some good teams. They do a good job at spreading the ball around.
“I hope not, but it (could be a shootout). It seems both offenses have been able to score some points this season. It’s going to be important that we go in there and play defense and be able to get them stopped. We have to be able to get them off the field. Offensively, we have to be able to score some points.”
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