March 26, 2011
Bulls Put on Pads, Scrimmage For First Time This Spring
ORCHARD PARK, NY – On the third day they scrimmaged.
That was the story of the University at Buffalo football spring practice schedule as Saturday marked the first time the Bulls were in full pads and it created a lively atmosphere at the Buffalo Bills Fieldhouse.
The Bulls started the day in an intense mode with a drill that head coach Jeff Quinn calls "Bull Rodeo," a full-scale blocking and tackling drill in a confined area. It set the tone for a spirited day that concluded with the Bulls scrimmaging for nearly 15 minutes in a full-scale 11-on-11 mode.
Buffalo also spent time in both run game and passing game scenarios with players in a "thud" mode where contact is made but not full-scale tackling. However, in the full scale scrimmaging the Bulls did their first tackling of the spring practice season.
"I really liked the way our kids came out on both sides of the ball," said Quinn. "We had great consistency in terms of our assignments and being gap sound and at the end we saw tackling, and it's a different game with the pads on which means that just because a guy is in position doesn't mean that the play is over."
"I liked the way we ran the ball today," said Quinn. "We did a good job of our big boys upfront getting bodies on bodies and getting themselves engaged in a good fundamental fit position and if you give a guy like James a crease, he's got great acceleration and great vision. We are excited for James and have to keep coaching him up and developing him to play this fall.
"James plays with a great deal of enthusiasm and competitive fire and that's why we recruited him," Quinn said of the redshirt freshman from Florida. "We kneo that he has a lot of athletic gifts and abilities and now it's his turn to step in and step up and I know the guys are excited about him on the field."
Buffalo also threw the ball with effectiveness at times with senior Marcus Rivers
making several grabs, as well as Alex Neutz
and Ed Young
, who has started spring practice with a number of big plays. Quinn, however, expects that phase of the Bulls' game to improve.
"It's a work in progress at in the throw game, we need some more time to get in sync between the quarterback, receivers and running backs," Quinn said. "I feel very strongly that our kids in the passing game will measure up to what we are looking for."
Defensively, UB got excellent play from a suspected source, leading returning tackler Khalil Mack. Mack was wreaking havoc at the line of scrimmage, as did nose tackle Richie Smith who had a tackle for loss. Senior linebacker Josh Copeland was also in the thick of the action on several plays.
Quinn was particularly happy with the intensity his team displayed and outlined what he wants to see more of as UB moves through 12 more practices.
"I want great team leadership," he said. "I'm looking at overall bringing this football team together – that it's a we-for-we and an us-for-us mentality and becoming the kind of close, cohesive brotherhood unit that we need to be. I think that's a big emphasis for us after you go through a little bit of adversity as we did a year ago.
"There's nothing more important than for this team to come together…it's a new season, a new time, let's get moving forward, let's learn from what we've experienced a year ago but I want our leadership to emerge now."