NASSAU, Bahamas – The competition at the Bahamas Bowl ramped up Tuesday afternoon between UAB and Ohio with beach volleyball, basketball shooting contests, football tosses and a dance off, but by Wednesday morning, the teams were back on the practice field and prepping for Friday’s contest.
Ohio brings a top-15 scoring offense into Friday’s 12:30 p.m. ET game and UAB defensive coordinator David Reeves knows his side will have to slow down the Bobcats.
“It’s a beautiful place. It’s hard to come to work every day, but our guys have done a good job of focusing,” Reeves said. “It’s easy to do when you think about who is lining up across from you and who you are up against. Ohio is averaging 38.9 points per game and that is terrifying.”
Leading the Ohio offensive attack and the nightmares for Reeves is Bobcat quarterback Nathan Rourke, who is tied for third nationally with 22 total touchdowns.
“They will run it right at you and have a magical player back there that is running the show,” Reeves said. “[Rourke] can beat you with his arm and can beat you with his legs. I would be worried enough if we were back home, let alone facing them in the Bahamas. We think the world of their football team and know it will be a good challenge for us on Friday.”
While players and coaches from both UAB and Ohio have raved about Atlantis and the Bahamas, everyone knows that they came here to win a game.
“Coach had a great message to the team following today’s practice. He’s bringing the team back. We’ve had a great 48 hours here, it’s been unbelievable,” said Ohio co-offensive coordinator Tim Albin. “It’s by far the best bowl I’ve ever been to and I’ve been to several, including the Rose Bowl. This has been fabulous, the people have been great. We’re looking forward to finishing this thing off. We’re less than 48 hours from game time and I can see it in our guys’ eyes, we’re starting to get locked in.”
The warm Bahamas weather has been appreciated by both players from both schools, and has boosted energy on and off the field.
“After landing, everybody had a boost of energy,” said Ohio redshirt junior running back A.J. Ouellette. “Practice has been more upbeat, better than practicing back home where it’s cold and we’re inside. Coming out here and enjoying the sun has been great.”
The Bahamas Bowl is a fitting end to a remarkable year for the Blazers. In their first year back to competition after a two-year hiatus, UAB is back in a bowl game and seeking their first bowl victory.
“I’m going out in style, going out in glory,” said UAB senior cornerback Darious Williams. “I’m really mostly happy for guys like Shaq [Jones] and Tevin Crews, they have been around longer than me. There is no better way to go out than in the Bahamas with Coach Clark and these guys.”