Just over halfway into 99 4 99, the 99th season of UB football began Saturday in Athens and continues this Saturday when the Bulls open UB Stadium against Morgan State. 99 4 99 will continue Monday and run until the MAC Championship game on November 30th. During the Season, the 99 for 99 Instant Classic will immortalize the best moment from the previous game, and let you the reader decide what the best moment of the season was.
September 1, 2012: The Second Largest Crowd in UB History Witnesses the Second Coming of Zordich
Homecoming 2010 was the absolute low point of Buffalo football since Turner Gill took over in 2006. Jerry Davis was benched and Freshman Alex Zordich was named the starter. It was not a great debut. Buffalo fell 42-0; Zordich threw for 98 yards and 3 interceptions while running often and inefficiently, collecting 26 yards on 17 carries. During the remainder of 2010 and as the backup Quarterback in 2011, "Budget Tebow" only managed to complete 41% of his passes for 371 yards, 1 Touchdown pass and 3 more interceptions.
Reasonably, expectations were low for the opener in 2012. In the competition to replace Chazz Anderson, Zordich wrestled the job away from Joe Licata, but it was close. Zordich became the 5th new QB in 5 years to start the season. If he was going to make UB fans forget about Willy or even Maynard, (and stop calling for Licata) he'd have to do it between the Hedges against the #6 team in the nation in front of 92,446 fans, the second largest crowd ever assembled to watch UB play football.
Zordich didn't set the record books on fire like Zach Maynard, but unlike Maynard, he showed he could be the disciplined Quarterback we need. Like Bruce Wayne discovering his inspiration at the bottom of a cave, Zordich found his from the rock bottom performance in 2010. 2012's Zordich was more confident, more disciplined and in command. After a Georgia score, he led the team down the field and connected for a 16-yard touchdown to Alex Neutz.
After falling down 24-6 in devastating fashion (kick return, 63-yard TD pass, blocked punt leading to field goal) Zordich lead the team down the field in a touchdown drive that featured a pair of 6-yard passes to Alex Neutz and a NFL caliber 19-yard pass to Jimmy Gordon. Zordich came back with 56 seconds remaining and ran a 1-minute drill that was 1-yard short of perfect. Zordich ran for 26 yards and threw to Neutz for 16 yards to set up a field goal that brought Buffalo within one possession at the half.
Zordich finished 14 for 24 for 148 yards and a Touchdown through the air, and adding 83 yards and a Touchdown on the ground. He had no interceptions. His 148 yards stands as his second highest output in his career behind the 210 yards he threw against Miami (OH) during his second start in 2010.
Only time will tell if Zordich will live up to his newfound praise or if the Georgia game was a heat-induced mirage. But for a few weeks, we'll be left to wonder: if Zordich could perform this well against the #6 team in the country, how good will he be in MAC play?
Not everyone was, or is sold on Zordich after the disastrous start to his career, but Zordich just might be the hero Buffalo needs, and the Quarterback Buffalo deserves.