Each week the voice of UB Football, Paul Peck, will preview Buffalo's upcoming game in his "Bull Session." The play-by-play veteran breaks down this week's opponent, Western Michigan.
Buffalo vs. Western Michigan
Jeff Quinn has talked about needing one win to kick start a string of more wins. We'll see if the dramatic victory over Miami does that. There was a strong sense of excitement, and relief, after last Saturday's win. The Bulls players never stopped believing, even during the losing streak. Now, they have some proof of that belief. Their confidence should be obvious during these final three games.
Bullseye on: Buffalo Offense
Joe Licata was solid in his starting debut. He missed a few receivers, and there were a few drops. But he made the throws he needed to make. The slant pass to Alex Neutz is an example of the basic throws a team must execute to win games. I'm still not sure how Licata's throw made it to the arms of Fred Lee for the touchdown, but it showed us how strong he can fire the ball….He's the first Bulls freshman quarterback to throw two touchdowns in a game since Drew Willy in 2005…It's so routine that when Branden Oliver runs for 199 yards, we barely talk about it. He is such a difference maker in how the U.B. offense is run, and how teams play defense. On the Neutz TD, three Miami defenders took a step up on the run fake and left the middle open for the big play…Bo's next 100 yard game will tie Anthony Swan for the school record of 12. Oliver leads the MAC in rushing, at 142 yards per game…Western Michigan's defense primarily a 3-3-5 defense. Rover back Johnnie Simon leads the team with 88 tackles….The Broncos rush the passer well. Three players have at least four sacks….They did get caught in a shootout last week with rival Central Michigan, allowing 506 yards in their 42-31 victory.
Bullseye on: Buffalo Defense
I have never seen Steve Means play as well as he is right now. Once again, he was almost unblockable against Miami. Means had 10 tackles, a sack and 2 tackles for loss. He is clearly benefitting from all the attention that offenses pay to Khalil Mack…Some new names had big games against the RedHawks. Cornerback Marqus Baker had 4 pass breakups, while fellow corner Carlos Lammons had a solid start for the injured Cortney Lester…That outstanding secondary play and consistent pass rush is why the Bulls defense is ranked 3rd in the MAC against the pass. Teams are throwing for less than 200 yards a game…But here comes a Broncos team that throws for 287 a game, second in the MAC…They do it with backup quarterback Tyler van Tubbergen playing instead of Alex Carder. It looks like that will continue this week, even though Carder is back from a finger injury and did practice…van Tubbergen has settled in and thrown for over 300 yards in his last three games….He has multiple targets, with the biggest being six-foot-five inch Eric Monette. He's had 19 catches and 338 yards in his last two games…The Broncos can run the ball. They're on pace to have their most rushing yards since 2000.
Bullseye on: Special Teams
This unit has struggled at times during the season. But against Miami, the three biggest plays were made by this group. Tony Daniel's recovery from the bad hold and his throw to Alex Dennison may be the play of the year. Color analyst Jim Kubiak, a former holder, says he's never seen that work. It did because Patrick Clarke made a block, Daniel kept it alive, and Dennison stayed with it even though that type of emergency plan calls for the throw to go to the other side of the field…Devin Campbell's kick return and vicious stiff arm was the biggest return of the season…and what more can you say about "Patty Ice" drilling the game winner. Much like the whole team, the confidence gained by this unit should carry over for the rest of the season. If you needed proof, now you have it. Special teams do win and lose games.
Please join me, color analyst Jim Kubiak, sideline reporter Nick Mendola and host Scott Wilson for the broadcast on the Bulls Football Network. Our pregame show starts at 2:30pm.