Why Play this Game:
Well we have to win sometime right? It's true that on any given Saturday an FCS team can beat up on an FBS team but UB, despite their struggles UB should still be beyond the days when they lost these types of games.
Truth be told I'm not a fan of paying off an FCS team, but since all the cool kids are doing it most departments relent to the peer pressure and schedule one per season. With the exception of Stony Brook or smAlbany I'd rather a moribund FBS team which is in or adjacent to some of our key recruiting areas. There is a far bigger upside to securing a 1:1 with a sun belt or conference USA team than there is to beating Morgan state.
Morgan State Last Season:
The Bears continue to be a luke warm MEAC team. Ten years ago Head Coach Donald Hill-Eley snapped the programs streak of 23 consecutive losing seasons but he's not made them a power. Under Hill-Eley Morgan state is typically good for five or six wins and last season was no different.
The bears went 5-6 beating Robert Morris, Howard, Savannah State, and Delaware state. They lost their lone game to an FBS team, Bowling Green, by a score of 58-13.
Hurdles and Opportunities:
Hurdle Number One: Veteran Players
Morgan States roster contains 24 seniors, That's just a massive number for an FCS squad. A team that went 5-6 last season could compete for a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) title with that kind of depth.
UB Saw first hand under Turner Gill what veterans could mean. The 2008 team was lead by Juniors and Seniors. There was youth in the defensive backfield but on the whole the more vets you have on the team the better you'll be able to do.
Hurdle Number Two: A Two Headed Quarterback
The Bulls have a history of doing poorly against mobile Quarterbacks. Morgan State comes in with your typical drop back passer and a scrambler on the roster.
Sophomore Seth Higgins started seven games in 2011, completing 97-of-186 passes for 1,116 yards and nine touchdowns.He has the perfect Quarterback build at 6-4, 225 and is their passing Quarterback.
Last season her replaced Josh Council, a 6-foot-2-inch, 215-pound mobile quarterback.
Coach Hill-Eley has said while one will win the starting Job both will play a big role in his offense.
Hurdle Number Three: Running Back Depth
Running backs Travis Davidson, Tracy Martin and Brian Mahn, are all seniors Davidson rushed for 732 yards and seven touchdowns last season, while Martin added 317 yards and two touchdowns. The wild card is Mahn who spent most of last season banged up.
If Mahn is up to speed Morgan can keep of some intensity in their running game for four quarters. Typically depth is the biggest advantage an FBS team has over an FCS team, losing the ability to wear down their Ball carriers may factor in.
And they have a pretty big line in front of them. Offensive linemen Jerry Evans and Joshua Durden each top 300 pounds.
Opportunity Number One: Skill positions on the outside
If Morgan is staked in the backfield and behind center they are starving on the outside. Mainly because they lost an amazing Tight End.
Lamont Bryant was signed by the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League (NFL) this past summer and there is no clear replacement at this time. It looks like Seniors Jorge Young and Devontae Lindsey each play their hand at filling that hole.
Opportunity Number Two: BO up the middle
Morgan state has to replace several veterans on their defensive line. Zary Stewart and Justin Young, who led the team in production last season, are gone which is going to put the burden of holding fast against the run on linebacker Allen Stephens.
Opportunity Number Three: Loud home crowd
Nothing like a home opener in Western New York.
Despite my distaste for the FCS games the crowds have come out for opponents like Rhode Island (not bad attendance for a week night) and Stony Brook.
As an added bonus, if this goes anything like our recent FCS games, there will be a lot of opportunities for second line players like Licata and James Potts to really show their stiff.