Sometimes the heroes are on the field, often the true heroes are in the stands. Yesterday, hope came in the form of a hot mic and a passionate broadcast crew.
In a close game, there were a number of situations that could have turned the game. It seems everyone had some good and some bad on an ugly day in Buffalo. In lieu of three goats, I present 7 cases of good, bad and ugly.
Good: Licata time. Licata went 5-for-11 for 68 yards and a Touchdown in a little over a quarter of play. In a game where the weather stymied the passing offense, Licata showed his strong arm and poise in a close game.
Bad: Zordich, already nursing an injury ran 11 times for 67 yards until he finally was forced out of the game, something we all could see coming. Admirable, but we need our starting QB in the game, calling a designed run for an injured QB is at best stupid at worse cruel.
Zordich had another sub par day throwing, completing 5-of-16 passes (31%) for 118 yards and a Touchdown. The weather was a factor, but Terrance Owens and Joe Licata combined to throw for 47%. Zordich only hit 3 receivers, Gordon (1), Campbell (1), and Neutz (3)
Ugly: Take away the touchdown throw to Campbell, Z's numbers look awful: 4-of-15 (27%) for 76 yards.
6) Special Teams
Good: We punted not half bad, Tyler Grassman's rugby style punt worked in the weather He showed great hands snagging a bad snap. Special Teams made Bernard Reedy irrelevant. Two PAT blocks kept us in position to win.
Bad: Brandon Murie had 2 kick returns for 4 yards total.
Ugly: Patrick Clarke loses MVP status with a pair of chip shop misses this season. This one may have been good, but not by much and you don't want to leave it up to MAC refs to decide. With the PAT blocks, 3-points changes the end of the game; we would have only needed a field goal to win, rather than a touchdown.
5) Game Presentation
Good: Hot Mic: Peck and Co. showed knowledge and passion, they just didn't mean for us to hear it. Nevertheless, it was refreshing to hear the ever optimistic while on-air Peck give an incredulous "why aren't we running the ball?" during the commercial break. It's nice to hear the passion, and to know it's not just a paycheck for these guys.
Bad: The permafog on the camera caused by the rain:
Ugly: For the first few series, the stream online MAC-stream gave us the video game experience. The camera was zoomed in and focused on one player, usually the quarterback. I did not see Toledo's first few throws, but I enjoyed seeing Owen's reaction to each pass.
4) Devin Campbell
Good: Broke a very long offensive touchdown streak with an explosive 42-yard touchdown reception.
Bad: My dream of utilizing a change of pace back continues to die...Campbell follows his 100-yard game last week with 2 runs for 6 yards. A 13 yard dash and...
Ugly: A seven yard loss with a seven point loss. The Jet Sweep fumble returned for a touchdown bailed out a Toledo team that did not find their offense until the 2nd half.
Good: Branden Oliver ran 24 times for 101 yards in his return to the field. Alex Neutz, 6 receptions for 135 yards and a touchdown.
Bad: Fred Lee returned, but only caught 1 ball for 16 yards. His one catch, the 2nd last play of the game. Even with Lee in, it was still all Neutz.
Ugly: The overthrow/drop at the end of the 1st half. While everyone expected UB to run out the clock, Quinn went for the kill shot, and it was there. A catch would have given the Bulls a 21-7 half time lead, a lead we needed as Toledo surged out to 18 unanswered points in the third quarter.
Good: Courtney Lester: When your pass defense cannot stop anyone and your offense can't score, a pick-6 kills two birds with one stone.
Bad: After allowing a 17 yard run, UB took a timeout to realign the defense, the result? We gave up a 49 yard run!
Ugly: David Fluellen came into the game averaging 22 carries, 133 yards per game and 6 yards per attempt against FBS opponents. We held Fluellen to 84 yards on 24 carries, only 3.5 yards per carry...if you exclude the 3rd quarter. The 3rd, well that was the ugliest quarter of run defense I've seen all season. Fluellen ran 12 times for 144 yards, 12 yards a carry! Flu scored twice giving Toledo a 19-14 lead that they would hold on to for the win.
1) Jeff Quinn
Good: Was aggressive, the defense was better and we finally scored not one, but two offensive touchdowns.
Bad: Timeout management. We took one timeout early in the 3rd to help our defense adjust. It failed. We took another timeout due to an injury to Zordich. You get a free injury timeout, but we needed to use one of ours for some reason. This comes back to haunt us when we get the ball with no timeouts and a chance to drive down the field for the winning drive.
Ugly: In the fourth quarter one team's running back averaged 10 yards per carry, the other team's running back averaged 3 yards per carry. The 10 yard per carry back, you guessed it, Branden Oliver. BO received 3 consecutive carries in the fourth and gained 30 yards, but never touched the ball again.
Meanwhile Fluellen came back down to earth, running for 3 yards a carry, however teenage coaching sensation Matt Campbell stayed with the run, grinding it out 12 times and eating 11 minutes and 42 seconds of clock after UB brought the game within one score with 14:40 to go in the game.