UAB's Reaves hitting his stride
HUNTINGTON -- For several weeks, UAB coach Garrick McGee was left scratching his head when it came to his offense.
McGee's quarterback had thrown for 300 yards in several games, but the coach wasn't exactly thrilled about it.
"Earlier in the season, we were disappointed because we couldn't run the ball as much as we anticipated, and we resorted to having to pass the ball over and over for 300 yards a game to stay in games," McGee said.
The Blazers had trouble staying in games as the one-dimensional offense led to a 1-6 record to start the year.
Things began to turn around Oct. 27 against Tulane when running back Darrin Reaves started to get on track. Despite falling 55-45 to Tulane, Reaves rushed for 166 yards and three touchdowns as the Blazers put together one of the top offensive performances of the season.
Reaves followed the strong showing against Tulane with a 223-yard performance last week in the Blazers' 27-19 come-from-behind win over Southern Miss. UAB trailed 16-0 at halftime, but Reaves took over the contest in the second half, rushing for 169 yards and two touchdowns to lead the comeback.
"(The win) brought confidence to the offensive line along with the team," McGee said. "We put the game on our backs. Darrin (Reaves) rushing for over 200 yards was amazing. He was finding holes. It was great."
UAB (2-7, 1-4 Conference USA) plays host to Marshall (4-5, 3-2) in a 4:30 p.m., Saturday, game at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. The telecast is on WVAH-11 and Comcast Sports Southeast (Huntington cable Ch. 68).
Even with Reaves' last two performances, UAB's rushing offense is still ranked just 108th out of 120 FBS teams.
That doesn't mean anything to the Marshall staff, though.
Marshall coach Doc Holliday knows Reaves' ability to churn out yards and the growing confidence of the offensive line make UAB a very dangerous team.
It also helps the passing offense for the Blazers if Reaves starts to chunk out yardage.
That's why Holliday's focus this week is on limiting Reaves and reducing the Blazers to a one-dimensional attack.
"Reaves being able to run the football like he has creates a lot of issues with play action and in the passing game," Holliday said. "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."
For the season, Reaves has rushed for 744 yards and 11 touchdowns. The 11 touchdowns were all in the last six games and ties the UAB rushing record set by former quarterback Joe Webb in 2008 and 2009.