UAB football team wraps up spring practice

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - UAB head football coach Bill Clark held his post-spring press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

The Blazers completed 14 practices because their spring game was cancelled due to inclement weather.

Clark says his first spring at UAB was a good one.  The biggest issue going into summer is overall depth on the team.

Lots of players missed spring practice due to injuries.  Clark expects most, if not all, of those players to be able to participate in summer workouts.

The biggest question coming out of spring?  Who will be the quarterback. That battle will go into fall practice.

Below is the full transcript from today's press conference from UAB Athletics:

Opening comments:

"I was really pleased with the attitude and effort from the players when dealing with a new staff. From January to today, the improvements we have created include the understanding of urgency we are looking for and gaining the idea of what our practices should look like. We have referred often to the number of injuries we had going into this spring, and I think we got as much as we possibly could from those guys. They got some work in and we were able to create a lot of depth. We have come a long way in establishing our depth chart going into this summer. We do have a lot of transfers and high schoolers coming in, so hopefully we have set a standard on where we want to go in the future."

On the depth coming into the fall:

"I think it will look a lot different. I do feel like we have a depth chart coming out of this spring and as these guys get inserted in, we will see where they fit. There are a lot of older guys and we have made plans for players to come in and compete. We told our players they should still be ahead because they have been here, they understand the system, and have lifted and trained with the staff. I think a lot of those guys will have to adjust and get used to the tempo we practice at and what we are asking for in the weight room. We're excited about the talent coming in, but we do feel the guys that are already here have a leg up on the incoming players."

On the comparison between Jacksonville State and UAB spring practices:

"I think it's very similar. We came into Jacksonville State without a quarterback. In fact, I probably had a better idea about the quarterbacks here than at Jacksonville State. Both situations were similar because we needed to establish who our quarterbacks were, create a depth chart and statistically we were bad at defense. I do think the situation was a little worse here as far as numbers wise. That is such a point of emphasis every year. We went into Jacksonville State not being where we wanted it to be. However, at UAB we have a lot of guys coming back this year with game experience, so I feel like the players have gotten a lot better. We still have a long way to go, but defensively the team has improved."

On selling the program to the players:

"I think that is a constant reminder anywhere you go, more so here mainly because of the lack of success within the program the past few years. Players are going to look at what our track record has been and where we come from. I always say the proof is in the pudding. We can talk this big game, but do we work, train and believe like that? We are having our exit meetings right now and players are seeing it, and that is the urgency we talk about every day. What is today going to be about? Did we win this day? Did we get better? We don't just believe to win, we expect it."

On the improvements made defensively:

"I don't know if I'm ever satisfied, but I have seen improvements on our defense. Getting off blocks, running to the football and tackling have improved. I think we saw our guys, just specific to tackling, improve immeasurably. We have got to keep taking those steps and get a few more guys in here. We need some guys to get well as we start workouts in May, but we have improved."

On players buying into the new coaching staff:

"I really think the guys bought in. I think that started with us in the weight room and with the speed work. I say that all the time because I believe that how you train is how you play. We want to be experts in that. We've made huge changes in our weight room and in our nutrition. We've made changes in how we take care of our guys and how we equip them. I am not saying that was bad in the past, but we want to be great in these areas and I think they have seen that. I think that transitioned into spring. I don't believe we had a bad day in the spring. I think we had a couple of days where we were not as urgent as I would like. We are trying to create a mindset where every day is like game day. I think that is what our guys are beginning to understand. I have seen it from a "buy-in" standpoint. I am really excited about that."

On the other teams in the conference:

"I try to take some time every day and watch a different team, from the offense to the defense to special teams. From my brief time in the Sun Belt, I feel that I am familiar with some of the teams that have transitioned into our conference. I think there are a lot of very good teams. It is daunting. You look at some of the teams that we have to play, how well coached they are and the effort from their staffs. There are some great offenses in this league and some well-coached teams. We have a lot of work to do and it is what we work for every day to compete with these guys."

On the quarterbacks during the spring:

"One of the best things they did was get ahead on our offense. They adapted to it pretty quickly. We want our offense to be simple for our players to understand, yet complex for the defense. I think that is where the coaching is right now. You have all these different facets to being a quarterback: how you throw the ball, understanding the offense, the physical demands of taking hits, the multi-purpose aspect of "run-and-throw," and leading the team. I've been pleased with the guys we've got and we have a couple of more guys coming during the summer to add to that mix."

On the expectations of fans:

"Everybody wants to hear about commitment. Are we committed to this program? And, I believe they are going to see that commitment. They are going to see it through the upgrades we are making to our facilities. Hopefully, they are going to see a great product on the field. We all want the wins, but there is a lot more that goes into making a great team, specifically training, facilities and nutrition. We have made a commitment to these aspects. Our guys have seen this and I think it has helped them buy in. We are in a great location, so we have a lot to sell. I think they are excited about where we are currently, but I want to see that in the fall."

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