Has the Bulls Offense Really Improved?

Last seasons dog... err cat pile saw OU beat Buffalo 34-17. Can the offense do better this season?

On the inside I'm an eternal optimist but being a UB fan, and UB football history being what it is, I mask that with sarcasm and "kidding on the square". Really it's the one thing that I follow in which my attitude is not "it will get better". So despite the fact that the core of my being wants to scream that this team is better than last years I have to stay reserved.

We played Pitt tight, much tighter than the score indicated and the Panthers are, I think, better than most expected them to be here this season. We played UConn Tight, actually should have won that game but our offense stalled every time we got close. We played BSU tight, and while this was not much consolation at the time the Cards are having themselves a nice little season over in Muncie.

Buffalo has the nucleus of a running game and a QB who, while being far from perfect, has yet to throw a pick six. The mere fact that 'not throwing a pick six' is something that comes to mind tells you how bad it was last season.

Putting aside Tennessee who outclasses us talent wise by a huge margin this Bulls team has seldom looked as awful as they did last year.  So are we better?

What the Stats Say:

2010:

Record 2-3 R. Island Baylor UCF Uconn BGSU Average
1st Downs 23 20 21 18 27 22
3rd down efficiency 0.36 0.26 0.47 0.42 0.63 0.43
4th down efficiency 0-0 2-4 0-2 0-2 0-0 0.25
Total Yards 423 325 326 368 441 377
Passing 332 163 190 227 241 231
Comp-Att 0.60 0.38 0.47 0.39 0.56 0
Yards per pass 7.9 3.5 5.9 4.9 7.1 6
Rushing 91 162 136 141 200 146
Rushing Attempts 28 35 49 44 58 45
Yards per rush 3.3 4.6 2.8 3.2 3.4 3
Penalties 4 5 2 5 9 5
Yards 20 43 22 30 104 44
Turnovers 2 2 2 4 6 3
Fumbles lost 1 1 0 0 2 1
Interceptions thrown 1 1 2 4 4 3
Possession 27:02:00 29:14:00 27:47:00 34:33:00 38:22:00 31:22

2011:

Pitt S. Brook Ball St Uconn Tenn Average
1st Downs 28 15 17 16 10 17.2
3rd down efficiency 0.40 0.45 0.38 0.32 0.23 0.36
4th down efficiency 2-4 0-0 1-1 0-1 0-3 0.33
Total Yards 403 342 353 319 264 336.2
Passing 276 177 176 193 116 187.6
Comp-Att 0.65 0.71 0.58 0.45 0.40 0.56
Yards per pass 5.6 7.4 7.3 4.8 4.6 5.94
Rushing 127 165 177 126 148 148.6
Rushing Attempts 44 24 37 31 28 32.8
Yards per rush 2.9 6.9 4.8 4.1 5.3 4.8
Penalties 6 5 6 5 5 5.4
P. Yards 83 60 55 48 15 52.2
Turnovers 1 1 0 1 1 0.8
Fumbles lost 0 0 0 0 1 0.2
Interceptions thrown 1 1 0 1 0 0.6
Possession 38:48:00 20:56 26:38:00 29:38:00 21:56 27.37

 

So what's the biggest difference?

Well for starters we are turning over the ball far less. 2.4 Fewer turnovers per game is nothing to sneeze at and it is both the Quarterbacks and the Running backs pulling their load.

Last season fumbling seemed to be a right of passage for UB Running backs. In fact Ike Nduka's fumble in the waning moments of the Bowling green game gave the Falcons a chance to kick a last second field goal that just missed.

2010 AVG 2011 AVG Difference
1st Downs 21.8 17.2 -4.6
3rd down efficiency 0.43 0.36 -0.07
4th down efficiency 0.25 .33 .083
Total Yards 376.6 336.2 -40.4
Passing 230.6 187.6 -43
Comp-Att 0.48 0.56 0.08
Yards per pass 6.45 5.94 -0.51
Rushing 146 148.6 2.6
Rushing Attempts 44.75 32.8 -11.95
Yards per rush 3.46 4.8 1.34
Penalties 5 5.4 0.4
Yards 44 52.2 8.2
Turnovers 3.2 0.8 -2.4
Fumbles lost 0.75 0.2 -0.55
Interceptions thrown 2.75 0.6 -2.15
Possession 31:22 27.37 -3:47

 

The Fumble must have put Nduka on Quinn's crap list and they guy who was, perhaps, our best half back saw spotty work at best for the rest of his senior year.

The interceptions last season were often pick sixes. A combination of called screen plays and terrible passes helped many a defender have their magic moment at UB's expense.

What's the biggest surprise?

We can run the ball. You would not know it by watching the Tennessee game or by a straight up comparison to last years numbers but the Bulls have a respectable running attack.

Last seasons number were boosted by 200 yards against Bowling Green. This seasons numbers were pulled down a bit because Tennessee completely stuffed us. On Balance we are rushing for a few yards less per game but the per carry numbers are far better.

The 4.8 is a little deceptive. Oliver seems to be a feast of famine back. You're either getting two yards or twenty yards depending on if he can break through the line.

What's the biggest disappointment?

The passing game has easily been the most disappointing part of the offense. I have more confidence in it than I did last season but I was one of those swept up in Chazz-Mania. He has been a decent game manager and uses his legs well but UB's passing game is average at best.

The real disappointment is that this improvement is coming at the hands of a transfer with just one season to give. While the Quarterback Carousel was frustrating last season I certainly hope to see a lot of Zordich if the Bulls get to a point where the MAC east and Bowl eligibility are no longer on the table.

So are we better?

Statistically things are sort of washing out but I see a better offense. Better ball control, balance, and slightly better play calling. It's fair to say that the coaches who were brought in during the season shook things up a bit and the result is an offense with some potential in conference play.

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