Alvin Demsey art

Fans cheer during the first quarter of a North Texas game at Apogee Stadium earlier this season. The Mean Green picked up a commitment from junior college defensive tackle Alvin Dempsey on Tuesday. 

North Texas will wrap up its 2019 season on Saturday, when the Mean Green host UAB at Apogee Stadium.

UNT was eliminated from bowl contention last week in a loss to Rice and is 4-7 on the season, including a 3-4 mark in Conference USA play.

The Blazers (8-3) are in a three-way tie for first place in C-USA's West Division with Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss and have a ton on the line. UAB can win the division with a win over UNT, as long as Florida Atlantic beats Southern Miss in Boca Raton.

We are fortunate today to welcome in Evan Dudley of AL.com to discuss the game. Evan covers the Blazers for the Alabama Media Group. One can find Evans work on the UAB section of AL.com and can also catch up with him on Twitter at @DudleyDoWriteAL. 

Here's what Evan had to say about Saturday's game.

1. UAB lost a ton of great players after last season. How has Bill Clark been able to reload?

A lot of it has to do with the way Clark has managed the roster since 2017.

There are two players left from his inaugural season in 2014 — center Lee Dufour and placekicker Nick Vogel — and a handful of seniors that were some of the first arrivals after the program was reinstated.

The leadership from those residuals has a tremendous effect on young players from the past few recruiting cycles, as well as junior college transfers with which Clark was able to build depth utilizing the four-game redshirt rule.

Interestingly, injuries throughout the season, while unfortunate, has not had a direct impact on the win-loss column and actually built more depth as those injured have returned in the last few weeks.

2. How much has the prospect of a new football stadium helped the program?

It’s obviously an enticing item to dangle in front of future recruits but UAB is still another full season from moving to Protective Stadium.

However, the designs are final and the foundation is being poured as we speak. Upon completion, the Blazers will have one of the finer stadiums in the league and a capacity (45,000+) more appropriate than Legion Field’s capacity of 72,000.

As long as UAB continues to compete for conference titles, the stadium will only enhance the already impeccable operations center located on campus.

3. What does UAB’s situation at quarterback look like heading into the game?

After a disastrous first start at Southern Miss, backup quarterback Dylan Hopkins has led the Blazers to two straight wins and chance at a division title. Tyler Johnston was cleared to return last week but, at less than 100 percent, opted to sit another game and should be ready to go this week against North Texas.

If Johnston does get the start, I wouldn’t be surprised if Clark decides to use both as each have their own strengths within the confines of the offense.

4. Is UAB expecting UNT to put on a fight in Mason Fine’s last game on senior day?

Absolutely.

The Blazers have been getting everybody’s best shot the past two seasons and will expect the same from North Texas. The Mean Green would love nothing more than to send Fine out a winner, spoiling rival’s chance at winning the division title in the process, and end a disappointing season on a positive note.

5. How do you see this game playing out?

This has been a one-possession game the last two seasons, but UAB has the extra offensive firepower this year to couple with its stellar defense.

The Blazers have somewhat reinvented themselves on offense and, if Johnston is available, will be a more balanced offensive unit as long as he doesn’t revert back to his turnover-happy tendencies. If UAB finds success in the running game early and is able to control the time of possession, Mason Fine will have few opportunities to face a rested defense that is one of the best in the nation.

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

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