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Know Thine Enemy: Q & A With UAB

We couldn't really find any fan blogs that cover UAB on a regular basis, so we contacted Steve Irvine, who is the UAB beat writer for The Birmingham News. Steve was kind enough to oblige us with some Q & A as we head into homecoming weekend facing the UAB Blazers.

This will only be the fourth meeting between the two teams on the gridiron. MSU leads the series 2-1. UAB defeated MSU in their first meeting in starkville in 2004. Since then, State has defeated UAB twice, once in Birmingham on a last-minute touchdown from Omarr Conner, and in 2007 in Starkville.

The Bulldogs and the Blazers will kick-off at 6pm in Starkville and the game will be televised on ESPNU. Check out the Q & A after the jump.

1. Many Bulldog fans (unless they live in Birmingham) probably know very little about this years UAB team. Who are some of the playmakers on this year's squad on offense and defense?

Offensively, the top playmakers are running back Pat Shed, quarterback Bryan Ellis, wide receiver Frantrell Forrest and tight end Jeffery Anderson. In my opinion, Forrest and Anderson could play in the SEC. Ellis generally makes good decisions and Shed is not a big guy but he is tough to bring down.

Defensively, defensive end Bryant Turner is the team's best pass rusher, defensive tackle Elliott Henigan could be the most talented defender, cornerback T.J. Ballou is a top-notch defensive back and safeties Chase Daniel and Jamie Bender are pretty good.

2. QB Bryan Ellis was named CUSA Player Of The Week for two weeks in a row. What does he bring to the table in terms of ability and leadership on offense? How does he compare to former UAB QB Joe Webb?

Ellis is nothing like Joe Webb, who is one of the most athletic players ever to play in Conference USA. Ellis' strength is his football intelligence. Like I said before, he doesn't make many bad decisions and he does a good job of throwing to the right receiver. He also showed his toughness against Tennessee by hanging in there despite getting knocked around all day. The other players definitely look to him to be a leader.

3. Neil Callaway is 12-27 through three and a half seasons at UAB. Does he have any sort of time table to get the program on the right track before his job is in jeopardy?

Some suggest that his time table is up. I think he has at least one more year to turn things in the right direction. Callaway tore down a program that needed to be torn down when he first took the job. He could have taken some shortcuts at first but chose not to and I think it will pay off in the long run. He finally has the scholarship numbers back up and the program has made huge strides in the classroom and off the field. Now he needs to find a way to win some games.

4. UAB will be traveling into a very hostile environment in Starkville this Saturday. The Bulldogs are on a 3-game win streak, including victories over Houston and Florida on the road. What will UAB need to do to have a chance of upsetting the Bulldogs at home?

Prayer, lots of prayer. I think Mississippi State certainly has to help them some on Saturday for UAB to have a chance. Ellis also has to have a big game and they need to stop wasting scoring opportunities. UAB also needs to find a way to limit the Bulldogs' running success to have a chance and I'm not sure they can do that.