Buffalo Spring Game Wrapup

Tony Daniel was the biggest surprise of the day, once he got that girl to give him his helmet back! via s3.amazonaws.com

Like Conrad said, it could have been so much better had they embraced the Hunger Games idea but it was still revealing.

Quarterbacks:

Zordich looked good, but still only completed 53% of his passes (albeit for 3 touchdowns and no interceptions). It was not a mind blowing day but a respectable showing. He also showed good elusiveness and looked a lot less likely to tuck it and give up quickly on a play than we saw two seasons ago.

Jerry Davis all but took himself out of the running for second line quarterback with a very pedestrian three completion day and 44 yards.

Joe Licata got off to a very shaky start. First he was mauled by Steven Means and then a couple of plays later did a terrible job reading the zone and got picked off. As the day went on he got a lot sharper and engineered a great two minute drive towards the end to get his touchdown.

His passes on that drive, and for most of the contest, were pretty on target.

Were that the whole day then I would say the order would be Zordich, Licata, Davis but Tony Daniel, who we've only mentioned in passing all spring had himself a great day. Maybe even a game changer as far as the depth chart is concerned.

Comp Att PCT Yds Y/A TD INT
Alex Zordich 9 17 52.9% 183 10.8 3 0
Tony Daniel 19 25 76.0% 177 7.1 1 0
Loe Licata 7 13 53.8% 99 7.6 1 1
Jerry Davis 3 6 50.0% 44 7.3 0 0

Daniel spent the bulk of his game against the second and third line units but showed great decision making, an efficient arm, and a good feel for the pocket.

Give the day he was having it would have been nice to see one more series with him put up against the first teamers but the scrimmage it what it was.

On top of numbers which are arguably better than even the ones put up by Zordich he also carried the ball nine times for 62 yards. He did a particularly good job making the right choices on the read option plays.

Carr Yds TF Y/C
Oliver 16 77 0 4.8
Daniel 9 62 0 6.9
Murie 14 54 0 3.9
Zordich 5 34 0 6.8
Jean 7 24 1 3.4

Running Backs:

Branden Oliver had a respectable game but none of his carries were highlight reel material. He had a very quiet 77 yard day. The only backs to carry were Brandon Murie, Oliver and Richard Jean.

Brandon Murie had an OK showing, and he did spend a bit of time with the first units.

Rashad Jean was the very pleasant surprise. It was just two years ago that Buffalo fans were led to believe that the Full Back position was a thing of the past. Jean, who saw action as a blocking back last year carried the ball seven times. He scored the lone touchdown of the game on a goal line plunge (took him two tries). More notably is that he seemed to be an effective part the passing game.

Receivers:

Alex Neutz is not quite 100% yet but he is already looking dangerous. While the secondary that he spent the day torching was one of the more vulnerable ones in the MAC last season 112 yards on six receptions is still impressive.

Rec Tds TD Y/C
Neutz 6 112 2 18.7
Hughes 8 81 1 10.1
Johnson 6 ? ? ?
Willoughby 5 ? ? ?
Wiser 4 56 0 14.0
Dennison 2 54 1 27.0

Devon Hughes had a solid game which reinforces what we have been hearing out of camp. Hughes will be the guy who hopefully keeps teams from focusing all of their pass defense on Neutz. 10.1 yards per reception and a touchdown is enough to warrant the attention of defensive coordinators.

Rudy Johnson, a converted Quarterback, was a frequent target from Daniel. He and freshman Ron Willoughby combined for eleven catches.

Alex Dennison is hopefully done bulking up. I hardly recognize him wearing a tight ends frame. But he did not sacrifice too much quickness and had a very good touchdown catch in traffic.

Matt Wiser also looked very solid.

Offensive Line:

Looked good for the most part but Means, Mosely, and Mack were often able to break them down. There was a lot less running than I expected (61 passes, 51 carries Yes I am counting scrambles as carries, sue me). Perhaps the line is finally where Quinn thinks he needs it to be for this team to be a real threat through the air.

Offense Thoughts:

I know this is still technically a spread (yes I noted where everyone was) but it bears no resemblance to the awful scene from 2010. More effective use of the running game, which we saw last season, combined with a Tight End Threat and a solid Full Back make this offense a SINO (Spread In Name Only).

Defensive line:

Means was a beast, but he seemed to be alone out there. It's not too encouraging to see the line have such a quiet day. This needs to be a big year with two seniors.

Linebackers:

Mack had a great game (Six Tackles and Two Sacks) but Willie Mosely walked away with the game ball The senior linebacker had eight tackles, four sacks and a fumble recovery. Lee Skinner had eight tackles and Jake Stockman and Khari Brown each had seven tackles.

They were what we thought they would be, the unit that is going to have to help the line pressure the quarterback and help the secondary cover the short stuff.

Defensive Backs:

The Defensive Backs were pretty unimpressive. They were basically just a play thing for Alex Neutz and Devon Hughes. They had a few moments here and there but unless there is a marked improvement between here and September this season may look a whole lot like last season.

Tep's Defense:

A lot of drop back linebacker / lineman. I don't really like it but he's a coach and I run a blog so until I see otherwise, for myself, I'm going to assume he understands it far better than I do.

It's understandable that there are going to be some growing pains with two new defensive coaches, including a new coordinator.

Special Teams:

Patrick Clarke went 4-4, hitting field goals from 21 yard to 36 yards. Aside Clarke all that happened was a blocked extra point, and some rather tepid attempts to cover field goals.

Wrap up:

Surprisingly I like what I saw out of Zordich. I've been quietly on the Licata train but after this weekend there is no doubt who should be the starter when Coach Quinn releases his post spring depth chart.

I love the direction Alex Wood is taking the offense. You just can't have a high powered passing offense with the quarterbacks on the roster.You can have an effective, even dangerous, passing game but you cant lean on it. The use of the tight ends, and even the full back in the passing game is going to force the corners not to cheat deep when they have a shallow zones.

The defense is still clearly adjusting to Coach Tepper and Coach Linguist. Any individual improvement over last season is getting lost in the unit transition. Hopefully by kickoff in Athens they have it all worked out.

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