Players bringing 'juice' against UAB
HUNTINGTON -- There might be a little extra baggage on the Marshall University team plane Friday when it heads to Birmingham, Ala.
Or, it might be a little bit more of a load in the Marshall equipment trailer once it hits the pavement heading for Alabama.
The Thundering Herd is going to pack extra heavy for this trip, according to the players.
"Pack your juice," Marshall defensive end Alex Bazzie said in a reference to the animated movie "Space Jam," where Michael Jordan puts energy and confidence in a team of Looney Tunes cartoon basketball players by giving them a secret juice.
Bazzie wants Marshall (4-5, 3-2 Conference USA) to be full of energy and confidence against UAB (2-7, 1-4) in a 4:30 p.m., Saturday game at Legion Field. The telecast is on WVAH-11, according to a Marshall release and Comcast Sports Southeast (Huntington Ch. 68).
"It's kind of like Space Jam juice," he said. "It's not something you can really see, but you can feel it once you've got it. So pack your juice before getting on that bus."
Honestly, the trip to Birmingham is going to be anything but simple for the Herd in a quest to earn its first winning streak of the season.
UAB plays its home games at historic Legion Field -- a venue that has seen some of the greatest players, coaches and games in history, including the Alabama-Auburn rivalry from 1948 to 1998.
As the home of UAB football, it is much more subdued these days.
The stadium capacity is 71,594, and the Blazers have hardly come close to that figure. Only twice in their history has the attendance for a home game reached 50 percent of capacity: 2003 against Southern Miss (44,669) and 2006 with Mississippi State (36,104).
UAB's average crowd this season is 17,605, which includes the season opener with Troy that drew 28,612.
In C-USA games this season against Tulsa and East Carolina the Blazers averaged 12,799 -- less than 18 percent of stadium capacity.
The game against Marshall won't fill the stands, either, so the Herd has to provide its own "juice" as Bazzie said.
"If you don't have that energy and enthusiasm about you and about the game, then you are just not going to have fun," Bazzie said.
Given the team records and statistics for both squads, the game shapes up as the ultimate trap for Marshall if it's not ready to play.
Marshall has a lot on the line while UAB has nothing to lose.
"I feel confident in the leaders that we'll be able to create our own atmosphere down there -- get the juices flowing, get everybody excited and have everybody ready," Marshall captain Jeremiah Taylor said.