Manny Diaz gives Miami football UAB previews

MIAMI, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 14: (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 14: (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Following their final scrimmage preparing for the 2020 season head coach Manny Diaz gave a brief preview of the Miami football season opener Thursday against UAB.

The Miami football team held their third and final scrimmage before they host UAB in the season opener on Thursday. Following the scrimmage head coach, Manny Diaz praised quarterback D’Eriq King and briefly discussed UAB. King was sensational in the final scrimmage going 24-34 for 330 yards and six touchdown passes.

King gave a glimpse of the elite dual-threat QB he is by adding nine carries for 94 yards. The Miami offense will be tested by a UAB defense that was eighth nationally in 2019. The Blazers won their season opener 45-35 against Central Arkansas, but their defense allowed only 293 yards. Three turnovers helped the Bears offense.

Diaz was clearly dialed in and had already seen the game between UAB and Central Arkansas. He was aware of the turnovers by the Blazers offense handing points over to the Bears. The purpose of the scrimmage Friday night was to simulate what the atmosphere will be against UAB and how the Blazers play.

Following the scrimmage, Diaz detailed how the Miami football staff planned ahead to recreate game situations down to which sidelines Miami will be on and which one UAB will stand. Diaz knows the challenge Miami will face in their season opener. The scrimmage gave new players a chance to experience Hard Rock Stadium.

"“We put Miami on one sideline and had some other guys that are simulating UAB on the other sidelines, so you’ve got your kicking substitutions and mechanically I thought we were sound in terms of having the right guys on the field and procedurally.That was positive because with UAB playing a game ahead of us, they were able to work some of those things out. We’ve got to be ready to go on Thursday.”"

After going over the positives of playing the final scrimmage at Hard Rock Stadium and getting the Miami football players used to their home field, Diaz elaborated about playing UAB and what the concerns are for Thursday. Diaz thought UAB played far better than their 45-35 victory margin indicated.

"“The score was very misleading…The strength of UAB’s team is their defense and Central Arkansas has got a four-yard touchdown drive, 15-yard touchdown drive, they score on defense, they scored twice against the backups in the fourth.You still see a very, very good defensive football team in UAB, an outstanding rushing attack, very balanced, multiple guys going in there and running for big yards, and you still see (Austin) Watkins as their leading receiver and the tight ends were dynamic — especially in the red zone.They’re a very experienced team who’s been in games. The moment will not be too big to them and we know we’ll have to play our best to beat them.”"

As Diaz stated, Central Arkansas scored its first two TDs after beginning on the UAB 15 and four-yard lines. The Bears’ third TD drive began with the ball on the UAB 35-yard line. All three scoring drives began after UAB turnovers. Tennessee defeated UAB 30-7 in 2019 after forcing three turnovers.

Watkins was UAB’s leading receiver last season who can cause problems for opposing defenses at 6’3, 210 pounds. Watkins was 21st in the nation last season averaging 19.2 yards per reception. UAB QB Tyler Johnston tied for ninth in the country with Trevor Lawrence of Clemson in 2019 averaging nine yards per attempt.

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UAB ran for 233 yards in the victory on Thursday. The Blazers were led by Spencer Brown with 127 yards on 27 carries with one TD. Jermaine Brown Jr. added 75 yards on 17 carries and another TD. Johnston was 17-25 for 143 yards with two TDs and an interception. Miami has to be ready after losses to FIU and Louisiana Tech in 2019.