Marcus Rivers, in his first game as a starter, wasted no time making an impact on the Bulls offense. The junior made a fantastic one-handed catch along the sideline in the first quarter and finished with 10 catches for 155 yards in the game. The single game total of 155 yards is good for fifth best in the program's Division I history.
He also tallied his first score, with a 38-yard touchdown with 1:56 remaining in the first half. The touchdown reception broke his career high for longest reception as well (his previous high was 11).
Rivers also set a new career high for catches in a game with 10 catches. His previous high was three. Rivers more than doubled his career total of seven before halftime. The 10 receptions move him into a tie for tenth all-time for catches in a single game.
Rivers finished the first half with eight catches for 109 yards and a touchdown. The 109 yards in the half shattered his single-game record of 19 yards he had against UCF last season.
Grand Island native Alex Neutz had an impressive debut for hometown Bulls, making a 31-yard diving shoe-string catch to set up the Bulls' first touchdown. Neutz later added his first career touchdown on a 21-yard fade route for the third Bull touchdown. He finished the day with 5 catches for 99 yards along with the score.
Quarterback Jerry Davis was another Bull to rewrite his personal record book Thursday night. The first half came to a close with 16 completions for 235 yards and three touchdowns, all setting new career highs. He ended the night with 21 completions for 302 yards and 4 touchdowns. His 302 yards marks the first time since Oct. 24, 2009 that a UB signal caller put up over 300 yards in a game.
The last UB Quarterback to pass for four touchdowns in a game was Zach Maynard against Pittsburgh in 2009. He's the sixth passer in program history to throw for four or more touchdowns. Davis' four touchdowns were thrown to four different receivers.
Davis showed a high aptitude for delivering the ball deep, connecting on big plays of 21, 35 and 38 yards in the first half, with two of those plays resulting with touchdowns. He completed a 40 yard pass in the second half as well.
Backup quarterback Alex Dennison put in a solid day using his legs rather than his arm, rushing for 26 yards on three attempts. He also completed 4 passes for 30 yards.
Senior Safety Davonte Shannon continues his climb up the ranks of the Bulls all-time greats. With a tackle in the third quarter, Shannon moved into sole possession of fifth place in career total tackles, passing Mike Newton with 344 tackles. Shannon finished the game with five total tackles to sit at 346.
Josh Thomas made his presence felt on the defensive side of the ball, most notably with his interception in the second quarter. It was the second of his career and the first since his freshman campaign. The Cedar Hill, TX native also recorded his first career sack on a muffed field goal attempt by Rhode Island. Fellow senior Rafael Akobundu tipped the pass to set up the pickoff.
Junior Imani Chatman had a busy day in the Bulls defensive backfield. The linebacker set a new career high with seven take downs. His previous high was four as a freshman.
After leading the team in sacks in 2009-10, Steven Means started the season out strong, sacking and forcing a fumble in the second quarter, setting up the Bulls' second touchdown of the night. He finished with an assist on a second sack and four total tackles.
The team held the Rams scoreless for the team's first shutout since Nov. 3, 2001 against Ohio. Rhode Island gained only 207 yards and turned the ball over twice while giving up five sacks.
Head Coach Jeff Quinn Postgame Quotes
Well, I am obviously proud of the fact that we got a 31-0 win tonight. We saw some great performances out of our starter Jerry Davis he was 20-of-35. He threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers. So I felt really good about how those kids responded. From my standpoint, as the head football coach, you get 24 hours to enjoy this one and it's hard to win these football games. To be able to come in here and win this game 31-0, first shutout since 2001. So that speaks volumes of what our defense has been able to do. Bill Inge did a great job with that defense, you know we look forward to seeing those kids come back and continuing building on that success.
On any potential jitters from the team
I don't know if it was so much jitters as I know that they were excited to play. All day long I was around them and they were locked in. This is our first time together. This is the first time taking the field together. From my standpoint, a 31-0 victory, you can build on that one, and that is the good thing. We saw some things out there that we need to clean up.
Even in special teams. There was a couple times that we ran down on kick-offs, we did not do a very good job of covering. Obviously, that is a major issue if you don't get that cleaned up quickly it's going to cost you. The other thing was not taking care of the football on the offensive side. We had a couple of turnovers, our defense did a great job of getting out of those jams. Which was great to see that they were able to respond and go through that sudden change.
Overall, our third down conversion was another area that I thought that we did not perform as well. I am going to have to get back and really look at some of the things that we were doing from the third-down standpoint. Overall, I can't be more proud of our kids for being able to get this first one under our belts and now we can build.
On the defense stepping up to make some plays
Absolutely. They were angry. They were not real happy about where they had to be on the field. It is a very tenacious group. I can tell you all night long that there were some collisions; there were some hits out there that Rhode Island felt. It just goes to show you that we felt really good about going into this game with our defensive personnel and they were able to show up for us tonight.
On what Coach Quinn believes was Jerry Davis' most
comfortable aspect of the game
He was able to get to four different receivers. He checked us a couple of times. A couple of those touchdown throws he actually changed the play. Which we told him, we said look, if we get this type of look we're good to go. But there is only one look that we want you to throw the ball down the field and that was press man and that is what they tried to do to our receivers.
You just saw some tremendous catches, Marcus Rivers' catch and Terrell Jackson's catch. I know there was a long pass to our sideline early in the first half—Alex Neutz. Just tremendous, tremendous concentration. With Marcus Rivers catching 10 passes in a game. It's says that these kids have done a great job and I couldn't be more proud of those four kids of stepping up tonight along with Jerry to be able to connect on some big plays.
On the difference in Marcus Rivers
He came up to me after he caught that touchdown and he said 'Thanks for believing in me.' That is what this is all about. I have got a great deal of faith and belief in my young men on this football team. Even when Brandon Thermilus fumbled the ball, you didn't see Brandon Thermilus back in there. There was a moment in the game when we could get him back in there. You have to get back, you have to saddle them off. They get knocked off, you don't want to lose these kids' confidences. That is what I have been giving Marcus. A lot of confidence and believing in him and that showed tonight. I told him if you can get 10 tonight, we are going to expect one more each and every game.
It is very important that you continue working the mental aspect of this young man, knowing that you care about him. If does, say drop a pass, that he doesn't get yanked out, that you can bring him back in practice. I have been hard on Marcus, very demanding on Marcus in practice, to lock in. We know Marcus can catch the ball. Why were there time when he … it is because he lost his train of thought. It was because he had something else on his mind then the focus that he needed. He understands that and I feel like he is growing and developing and that is what it is all about. A coach connecting with a young man and it is not just me, it is his fellow teammates too. Jerry Davis having the confidence in him and being able to throw the ball his way. Greg Forbes, our offensive coordinator, and Juan Taylor, who has been very, very proactive in supporting Marcus. I feel really good that this is a great night for him and we are obviously going to build on it.
On the rhythm of Jerry Davis with multiple
That is the beauty of the spread because you have a lot of different players that will present some match-up issues and we saw those tonight. We clued Jerry Davis in, on a couple of these match-ups. Each time we went back to the huddle after a series, when we were looking at what they were doing defensively, we were talking to him a little bit about specific players. There are a lot of plays that you call, but it really comes down to players in a lot of cases. I felt really good about him taking some of those sideline adjustments we were talking about and he was able to execute them out on the field. And those guys came up big for him, coming down with some big catches.
On taking to absorb first victory as a Division I
It was interesting because I had about 30 text messages and emails this morning. It kind of got me more fired up because of all the people that have been a big part of my past, and part of my present and will continue to be very supportive of me. I enjoy these wins. We put so much time, that is what I told these kids. It is the most challenging thing to win a Division I football game. No matter what to get a 31-0 is a great feeling. For me as the head football coach, I will put this one to rest probably less. I won't have 24 hours to enjoy it because I am going to be thinking about Baylor. Once you get that one down, you are going to be looking for the next one and how we have to get ready for a Big 12 team has really already started to work on my mind a little bit. But I am going to enjoy it. I've got great support. We've a bunch a people from Chicago in town, people from Michigan in town, people from Cincinnati… they all came up here to see the Buffalo Bulls play our opening game. I'm sure they're happy for me and I cannot be more proud of the support I have been getting.
On hearing from Coach Brian Kelly this week
Coach Kelly and I spoke a couple of times. It was just great to hear from him. Obviously, we were on the live chat the other night and the defensive coaching staff at Notre Dame was on the live chat and threw a shout out to me. We have a very close group of people. When you go through all the things you do as college coaches. Your families move, your husbands leave and your wives and kids stay back, you have to lean on each other. We're not from those areas, our families have to lean very heavily on each other and look out for one another. It was great to hear from Coach Kelly, just be yourself, call a lot of throw game, don't stick to that run game. I think we did that tonight and I am going to send him a copy of the statistics.
On the run game
I don't think there was much of a run game here. We need to do a better job there. I've got to really look at some the things… structurally, I know our offensive run game is solid structurally as much as our passing game. It just wasn't executed at times. Give credit to Rhode Island. They packed the box, they thought that they could force us to throw the ball and maybe capitalize in that fashion and keep our running game to minimum. Obviously, we were to able to beat them with the pass game which is what you want. Some games we are going to have to win the game by doing a better job of running the ball. There is no question I'm not happy with the run game.
I wasn't happy at times with some of our protections, some guys got to our quarterbacks and hit them and that is never a good thing. We've got to get back with Coach Adam Shorter and our offensive line and do a better job of protecting and executing our run game.
On what was the detriment of the run game
I think at all those things, I am going to look very carefully, we'll break it down and look at it. There was a couple of times, we didn't have the back on the proper side and that hurt us. You can add it all up somewhere, someway there was a breakdown and that is why those plays didn't work. Maybe it was a little bit of moving four tailbacks in and out. We had Branden Oliver in, we had Brandon Thermilus, Jeffvon Gill and Ike Nduka. We got Jerry Davis in there and we got Alex Dennison in there. We had a lot of guys play tonight, which was good to see.
Buffalo Players Post Game Quotes
Buffalo Bulls Linebacker Justin Winters
On the shut out:
We practice hard and our coaches give us those situations and we just practice hard every day. We have just practiced hard every day since last winter.
On the field position:
We get excited to get in those situations, to get the ball back and give the offense an opportunity.
On the start of the game:
I just try to do my part. I am an emotional leader and I just try to be physical and be aggressive.
On staying focused on Rhode Island with Baylor as the next opponent:
Coaching. Coach Quinn is a great coach and he makes sure we don't over look any opponent. He goes week by week and game by game. Every week we are going to change up, get a game plan going, and go to war.
Buffalo Bulls Wide Receiver Marcus Rivers
On his comment to Coach Quinn after his first touchdown of the season:
It seemed like the whole world was against me. Coach Quinn just believed in us since day one and knew we had the ability to do it as a team. We came out today and showed the world what we are capable of doing.
On Coach Quinn:
Coach Quinn is very passionate about football so if you mess up or slip up you are going to hear about it. I have to prove to Coach who I am and who he thinks I am, which I am.
On his touchdown reception:
We were talking on the sideline about the play and I told Jerry just throw it up these corner's cannot touch us. I looked and the corner was hanging out and I knew had to get the cushion. I saw the ball in the air and I knew I had to make my mark and do this for the team.
On his assessment of Jerry Davis' performance:
Jerry is pretty good. I love him as a guy and we have a good friendship. He is a great quarterback he is very smart and makes great reads and just a great guy to be around.
Buffalo Bulls Quarterback Jerry Davis
On finding a rhythm in the second quarter:
With this offense you always want to score every time you touch the ball and you always want to move the ball. We started off slow especially on the first drive. On the defense we did excellent. They held it down and kept giving us a chance to show that we could move the ball. It was all about tempo and all about moving the ball all about offense. Little catches here and there and little runs here and there. Once we got that down we started moving the ball and everything came into rhythm.
On using a variety of receivers:
That is what they are out there for. We have a great receiving core here: Marcus Rivers, Alex Neutz, Ed Young and the rest of the freshmen here. I believe give them a chance, throw it in the air, they are going to come down with it no matter what. I believe that we are going to win every battle if you give them a chance. The offensive line did a great job today protecting every time and the running backs and tight ends too did a great job. I believe if we keep doing that good things will happen all the time.
On his ability to change the plays called:
Especially being in practice and going against this great defense every day. Being a quarterback you have to manage the game right. That is what Coach Quinn and Coach Lawrence expect out of me and the rest of the quarterbacks as well. We saw a couple of things today that were iffy and being a quarterback you can't hesitate you have to show confidence and show that you know what you are doing and gain trust in the rest of your teammates. A couple of situations today I made a couple of audible and put the ball in the receivers in the right area and they came down with it, it was all them
On the first game of the season:
Being able to be in this offense is a blessing and having the receivers we have here. We know it is going to be fun because you know they are going to make catches and make plays and catch touchdown passes. It was everything we expected. We were ready to go since spring ball and tonight we went out and showed everyone what we have been preparing for all summer and all winter and we came out with a win.
On the touchdown pass to wide receiver Alex Neutz:
I had two defenders in my face but I heard the crowd live and I knew he caught it and I wanted to give him a chance. I fed off crowd and I got up, they wanted to review it, but I knew he caught it. I have faith in him catching the ball and he did a great job all game. We definitely had our momentum after that.
Buffalo Bulls Wide Receiver Alex Neutz
On being a local talent (wide receiver Alex Neutz):
It is good to see local talent coming out being able to show their skill and show they can play football with the rest of the states.
On his touchdown reception:
The play we had called was a slant route and I knew we had a good opportunity to be in the end zone. The cornerback bit on it and I just went back outside and the ball hung in the air for a long time I'll tell you that much. I thought it was never going to come down. I caught it, came down and my feet were in bounds. I was nervous that the cornerback was going to catch back up with me but I knew I had it.
On his assessment of Jerry Davis' performance:
I thought Jerry played great. This is his first year leading the offense. The first drive was a little jittery because the whole offense has high expectations for us. After that we calm down and he got us motivated and everything went smoothly after that.
On the excitement and anticipation of the offense for the first game:
Since spring ball. Since Coach came in and gave us the offense we were excited about the opportunity to play fast and make the defense work. Rhode Island played great but they got tired and we were just relentless, we just kept going and going.