Grant Traylor: UAB quarterback Brown no ordinary freshman
When UAB quarterback Austin Brown came into the season, he was a redshirt freshman trying to make a name for himself for new head coach Garrick McGee.
By the end of the third game of the year, McGee couldn't keep the kid off the field any longer. Brown took over the starting job from returnee Jonathan Perry and has not looked back.
Brown has become just the ninth player in UAB history to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark in passing for a season. He'll be gunning for more Saturday when UAB plays host to Marshall.
His maturation throughout this year came fully to the front last week against Southern Miss.
Staring at a 16-0 deficit at halftime on the road, Brown regrouped after a dismal first half and helped lead the team to a 27-19 win over the rival Golden Eagles.
Brown's performance in the second half impressed his head coach while also showing his growth as a quarterback.
"I think he did a really good job of managing our team in the second half, completing the passes that were there for him," McGee said. "His technique was better once he settled down. I think he really grew up in the game, and it's always good when you grow up and you win at the end, because that shows if you keep trusting in who you are and what we are, then good things will happen."
Brown's growth in understanding the situations of the game make him one of the scariest offensive talents in Conference USA, according to Marshall coach Doc Holliday.
It is a unique situation where Brown's confidence in his own abilities and his youthful gunslinger mentality are being brought together with a little bit of veteran savvy in the later course of the season.
Holliday noted the Tulsa contest as a game in which he really showed that he can live in the moment a bit.
"On the first play against Tulsa, they threw a post to (wide receiver Jamarcus) Nelson for a touchdown," Holliday said.
The Tulsa game was Brown's first career start, and the first pass of that initial start went for a 75-yard touchdown. He went on to throw for 337 yards and three touchdowns to give the Blazers a much-needed offensive jumpstart.
He now sits with 2,086 yards passing on the season, which is already the seventh-best single-season effort in UAB history with three games remaining.
In six starts, he has averaged 310 yards passing per game and notched his first 400-yard game against Tulane two weeks ago when he threw for 409 in a 55-45 loss.
That 310-yard average per start would rank him 10th nationally if yardage was based just on starts. He saw action in the first three games of the season in relief of Perry, which brings his actually per-game average down to 232 yards per game.
DOWNTOWN BROWN: One other interesting note on Brown is that in each of his six starts, he has completed at least one pass of 40 yards or more.
The 75-yarder to Nelson against Tulsa is his season and career-long pass.
Grant Traylor is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter (@GrantTraylor).