CFN Take: Buffalo & Taylor Run Over MU
Buffalo Bulls 2014 ...
Head Coach: Jeff Quinn
Aug. 30 Duquesne W 38-28
Sep. 6 at Army L 47-39
Sep. 12 Baylor L 63-21
Sep. 20 Norfolk State W 36-7
Sep. 27 Miami Univ. W 35-27
Oct. 4 at Bowling Green
Oct. 11 at Eastern Michigan
Oct. 18 OPEN DATE
Oct. 25 Central Michigan
Nov. 5 at Ohio
Nov. 11 Akron
Nov. 19 Kent State
Nov. 28 at UMass
Sept. 27 at Buffalo 35, Miami University 27
And You Care Because … Anthone Taylor ran 36 times and scored three times, with his final scoring run from one yard out finally giving Buffalo the lead for good in the fourth. Miami took the lead early and held tough in the nip-and-tuck game the entire way, with Andrew Hendrix throwing three touchdown passes and Dawan Scott running for a 61-yard dash. Hendrix gave MU the lead in the fourth on a 32-yard touchdown pass to Alex Welch, but UB scored eight unanswered points and held on late and was able to run out the clock.
What Else? Buffalo RB Anthone Taylor ran 36 times for 222 yards and three touchdowns
- Miami University QB Andrew Hendrix completed 12-of-38 passes for 238 yards and three touchdowns, and ran four times for 15 yards
- Buffalo QB Joe Licata completed 28-of-38 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns
- Time of possession: Buffalo 38:44 – Miami University 21:16
Game Rating: A-
Sept. 20 Buffalo 36, Norfolk State 7
And You Care Because … Buffalo QB Joe Licata accounted for four touchdowns, three through the air and one on the ground, as the Bulls easily dispatched of visiting Norfolk State. The Spartans actually knotted the game at seven on a 68-yard Terrance Ervin touchdown pass early in the opening quarter. But it was the last points that Buffalo would allow, as the defense stiffened, and the offense played keep-away for much of the second half.
What Else? Licata got plenty of help from his ground troops, specifically Anthone Taylor, who provided the balance with 116 yards on 28 carries.
- Ervin’s touchdown pass to Isaac White was the only highlight of the quarterback’s afternoon. He completed just 3-of-12 passes for 99 yards, while managing just 26 rushing yards on 11 carries.
- Buffalo was stout on defense, the kind of game it can build upon. Besides allowing just 215 total yards, the Bulls stopped 13-of-17 third and fourth-down tries.
- P Dylan Shaddix was one of the few bright spots for the Spartans in New York. He averaged 44.1 yards on eight punts, twice pinning the Bulls inside their own 20.
Game Rating: D-
Sept. 12 Baylor 63, at Buffalo 21
And You Care Because … Bryce Petty looked healthy and in perfect form on the way to a 35-0 first half lead. Petty threw four touchdown passes and Shock Linwood ran for two scores in the breather. Buffalo kept pressing and got three touchdowns in the second half, with Anthone Taylor turning into a 41-yard score and Joe Licata hitting Devon Hughes for a 41-yars score, but it was never close.
What Else? Bryce Petty was terrific, completing 23-of-34 passes for 416 yards and four scores, and he even ran a little bit with 11 yards on two carries.
- The Baylor running game didn’t rumble like normal, but it was fine on the way to 189 yards. There weren’t any big plays, but Shock Linwood ran for 97 yards on 20 carries with two scores. KD Cannon continues to impress, catching six passes for 189 yards and a touchdown, and Jay Lee and Lynx Hawthorne each went over 100 yards with two scores.
- Buffalo had the ball for over 35 minutes and moved the chains on third downs, but it couldn’t move enough in the first half.
- Baylor did exactly what it was supposed to do in a game like this. It got in, put up 669 yards, never let it get interesting, and moved on.
Game Rating: D+
Sept. 6 at Army 47, Buffalo 39
And You Care Because … The two offenses rolled without a problem, but it was the Army ground game that took over with 341 yards led by 174 yards and two scores from Larry Dixon including scoring dashes from 23 and 45 yards out. The Knights took a 28-3 lead before the Bulls started bombing away with Joe Licata finding Devon Hughes for a 20-yard score and Marcus McGill for a 65-yarder to make it interesting. Army came up with two more scores to put it away a 47-16, but UB didn’t quit late scoring 22 unanswered points
- Army hung on. Licata ended up with 396 yards and five scores, but he threw three picks. The Army quarterbacks combined to complete all seven of their passes for 125 yards. Game Rating: C
Aug. 30 at Buffalo 38, Duquesne 28
And You Care Because … The Bulls blew a 21-0 lead as Duquesne took a 28-24 lead in the fourth quarter on Dillon Buechel’s third touchdown pass of the game. But Joe Licata threw two fourth quarter touchdown passes to Ron Willoughby to avoid the disaster. Anthone Taylor added 115 yards and two scores on the ground for the Bulls, but it was all Licata thanks to a UB pass defense that gave up 322 yards and three scores.
Game Rating: B
Everything needed to work right for Buffalo to come up with a great season, and with a superstar talent in now-Oakland Raider Khalil Mack, and with a fantastic back in Branden Oliver to rely on, it all came together.
And the schedule was really, really easy.
The 2008 conference champion got the job done with a veteran team, turnover margin, and one shocker of a title game win over a loaded Ball State team that imploded with everything on the line. Last year’s Bulls got to eight wins by beating Stony Brook from the FCS and with six of the FBS wins coming against teams that combined for a grand total of 11 wins. The lone good victory was against Ohio, but things were starting to go south for the Bobcats.
Buffalo was 1-5 against teams that finished with winning records and went 6-0 against the FBS teams on the slate with four losses or fewer. However, that’s life in the MAC. If you beat all the bad teams, you’re going to have a great season. Now it’s up to the Mackless, Oliverless Bulls to not be one of those mediocre squads.
In his fifth year at the helm, Jeff Quinn is starting to come into his own as a head coach and seems to have found a formula that works. Win the turnover battle – UB was sixth in the nation – play tough defense that knows how to get off the field – UB was 25th in third down defense and 32nd in time of possession – and rely on that defense to set up the offense.
The trick going forward will be to get the job done without a ton of star power and without the veterans the team had last year. Five starters are back on defense, and while there’s no replacing Mack, it’s also going to be tough to turn around a secondary that loses three starters. Offensively, six starters return, but the top three receivers are gone and losing Oliver’s 1,535 yards and 15 touchdowns isn’t going to be easy.
And then there’s the schedule, with should make everything a lot easier with only three games against teams that went bowling last season and with more than enough winnable dates to push for at least six wins.
No, this isn’t going to be a MAC champion, and it’s probably not going to be able to screw up anyone’s season, but Quinn has put the pieces in place to start reloading a bit where needed instead of rebuilding. Now it has to add up to the first back-to-back winning seasons since rejoining the MAC.
What to watch for on offense: Junior QB Joe Licata. A pure passer, the 6-2, 226-pounder has to be fantastic at making everyone around him shine after losing most of his top targets. He struggled with his accuracy late in the big games against Bowling Green and San Diego State, but he kept the interceptions down – spraying around eight throughout the season – and he showed he could bomb away when absolutely needed. He needs the line to do its job in pass protection, and he has to hope for more from the running game without Branden Oliver to take the heat off the passing attack, but now that he knows what he’s doing, he has to carry the O.
What to watch for on defense: The 3-4 alignment has to keep generating pressure. Mr. Mack took care of 10.5 of the team’s 38 sacks, and allowed others to roam free to get into the backfield, but Job One for defensive coordinator Lou Tepper will be to identify dangerous options to get into the backfield. Along with Mack, the team’s top four sackers are gone and five of the last seven are done. There’s no Mack coming from the outside, but Jarrett Franklin is a promising option on the outside and Brandon Crawford showed promise last season. These two need to be turned loose right away if the front three isn’t hitting the quarterback early on.
The team will be far better if … the takeaways keep on coming. The offense did its part to keep the mistakes to a minimum with just 15 turnovers on the year, but the defense always seemed to pick up the slack when needed coming up with 30 takeaways with two or more coming in ten games. 0-3 when losing the turnover margin, and losing to Bowling Green after breaking even, the team isn’t good enough to beat the better teams on the schedule when it’s not coming up with every break and taking advantage of every opportunity. That might be hard to do without Khalil Mack, who was a one-man takeaway crew at times, but after struggling in turnover margin in 2011 and 2012, UB can’t take a step back.
The schedule: It’s not bad, missing Ball State, Northern Illinois and Toledo from the West and getting Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan. Going to Bowling Green isn’t going to be fun, and combining that with a road game at Ohio should kill every hope of winning the East as part of a run of three road games in four before closing out with a breezy three game stretch against Akron, Kent State and UMass. With Duquesne and Norfolk State on the slate, the non-conference slate isn’t awful with Baylor making the trip to Amherst and a date at Army. With four home games in the first five, there’s only one road date – Army – before October.
Best offensive player: Junior QB Joe Licata. A pure passer, the 6-2, 226-pounder has to be fantastic at making everyone around him shine after losing most of his top targets. He struggled with his accuracy late in the big games against Bowling Green and San Diego State, but he kept the interceptions down – spraying around eight throughout the season – and he showed he could bomb away when absolutely needed. He needs the line to do its job in pass protection, and he has to hope for more from the running game without Branden Oliver to take the heat off the passing attack, but now that he knows what he’s doing, he has to carry the O.
Best defensive player:
Senior LB Lee Skinner. There’s no one who’ll ever be able to replace Khalil Mack, but everyone will be trying to figure out how the Buffalo linebacking corps can come up with something to fill in for the lost production. Skinner is an inside presence – Mack was used like a hybrid end on the outside – who’ll combine with rising senior Jake Stockman to lead the way in tackles. Let everyone else get behind the line and get to the quarterback. Skinner can do it, but his job will be to stuff everything up the middle.
Key players to a successful season:
Sophomore LBs Jarrett Franklin and Brandon Crawford. Even if these two are phenomenal on the outside, there’s no way they can combine to do what Khalil Mack did. The MAC Defensive Player of the Year made 100 tackles with 10.5 sacks, 19 tackles for loss, three picks with two for scores and with seven broken up passes. Crawford is a speedster on the outside with great pass rushing potential, while Franklin is a smallish 6-0, 200-pound athlete with great tackling ability. These two have to be disruptive, even if they’ll be a bit inconsistent.
The season will be a success if … the Bulls get back to a bowl game. Actually, that’s not a given just by getting to seven wins in the MAC, but as long as they come up with a winning season, it’ll be a big year considering consistency hasn’t been part of the program. It’ll be a total disappointment if the Bulls can’t come up with six wins with Duquesne, Norfolk State, Miami University, Eastern Michigan, Akron and UMass on the schedule. Coming up with a seventh win shouldn’t be a lot to ask for.
Key game: Oct. 25 vs. Central Michigan. It’s the lone oasis in a midseason stretch of road games, and considering the Chippewas should be far better, it’ll be one of those 50/50 games that UB needs to win at home to make a potentially decent season strong. If the Bulls can split on the road at Bowling Green and Ohio, then this might be the one tough obstacle if they want to get into the MAC title race.
2013 Fun Stats:
- Buffalo 1st quarter scoring: 56 – Buffalo 2nd quarter scoring: 120
- Fourth Down Conversions: Buffalo 8-of-17 (40%) – Opponents 4-of-18 (22%)
- Penalties: Opponents 90 for 805 yards – Buffalo 77 for 798 yards.
2014 Buffalo Preview -
What You Need To Know & Top Players
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