— NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Vanderbilt Commodores just want to start having some fun again.
They've been busy trying to just focus on football the past few weeks, and it hasn't been easy. A receiver was kicked off the team Sept. 17 after pleading guilty for his role helping cover up an incident where four former teammates are charged with raping an unconscious woman in a campus dorm in June.
The Commodores (2-2) have one last chance Saturday night for a tuneup against UAB (1-2) before diving back into the meat of their Southeastern Conference schedule.
"We have to get some of our juice back," center Joe Townsend said. "We're playing for each other. We have to have fun. When you have fun, that's when the plays come."
Vanderbilt scored 35 points in a season-opening loss to now No. 21 Mississippi. But the Commodores have struggled scoring early and needed two fourth-quarter touchdowns last week in beating winless Massachusetts 24-7.
The Blazers are potent offensively with Darrin Reaves averaging 6.9 yards a carry and Austin Brown throwing the ball very well. Brown has six touchdowns to only one interception. This will be UAB's second SEC opponent this season, having lost 56-17 at LSU.
"This is a big opportunity for our program, to go up there on television and get our record back to 2-2," UAB coach Garrick McGee said. "We are looking forward to it."
Vanderbilt coach James Franklin wants to see more from his own quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels who has nearly as many interceptions (four) as touchdown passes (six). Franklin said running the ball better would help his quarterback.
Carta-Samuels also might be helped by a local prosecutor clearing the quarterback's name last week after Carta-Samuels was mistakenly identified in a hearing as having carried the alleged victim from a hallway into a dorm room. Carta-Samuels is listed as a witness for the prosecution in the original indictment against the four former players.