What is going on with Buffalo's opening drives?
Scene: Frank Solich lays broken on the floor of his coaching office, Bane Quinn walks in
Bane Quinn: EVERY COACH WHO HAS COME TO BUFFALO HAS LOOKED UP TO THE SCOREBOARD AT THE END OF THE HALF AND IMAGINED COMING OUT IN THE SECOND HALF AND WINNING. SO EASY... SO SIMPLE... AND LIKE SHIPWRECKED MEN TURNING TO SEA WATER FROM UNCONTROLLABLE THIRST, MANY HAVE DIED TRYING. I LEARNED FROM BRIAN KELLY THAT THERE CAN BE NO TRUE DESPAIR WITHOUT HOPE, I HOPED HE WOULD TAKE ME TO NOTRE DAME, BUT INSTEAD HE SAID I HAD TO COME TO BUFFALO.
SO AS I TERRORIZE THE MAC, I WILL FEED MAC TEAMS HOPE TO POISON THEIR SOULS. I WILL LET THEM BELIEVE THEY CAN SURVIVE A BAD HALF SO THAT YOU CAN WATCH THEM CLAMBERING OVER EACH OTHER TO STAY IN THE GAME. YOU CAN WATCH ME TORTURE AN ENTIRE CONFERENCE AND WHEN YOU HAVE TRULY UNDERSTOOD THE DEPTH OF YOUR FAILURE, THEN YOU HAVE MY PERMISSION TO DIE.
[Ohio loses next two games 93-13]
BQ: HEY NOT YET, IM NOT DONE YET, I DIDN'T GIVE YOU PERMISSION TO DIE YET! OH WELL, AT LEAST SOLICH YOU DIED WITH EFFORT MOXIE AND COMPETE. YOU COULD BE A NEXT BULL IN.
Jokes aside, Buffalo has pulled a Bane, leaving every team enough hope to ultimately really beat themselves over the head when they get blown out in the second half. However every UB fan saw the Dark Knight and knows that when you let the other guy live, he just may come back and beat you. That happened against Toledo, and if it's all the same to BQ, we'd prefer to extinguish all hope as soon as possible against BGSU.
Opening drives through 11 games:
Buffalo has scored 4 of 11, 36% Each score was a touchdown.
Buffalo received the opening kickoff: 72%.
Buffalo scored after receiving the opening kickoff: 25%
Buffalo scored on their first possession after their opponent received the opening kickoff? 67%
Buffalo's Average Opening Drive: 6 plays, 29 yards, 1 first down. 3 runs for 12 yards, 3 passes for 17 yards.
After scoring on the first drive of 4 of their first 6 games, Buffalo has punted on their first drive in five straight games.
Average Opening drive First 6 games: 7 plays, 42 yards, 2 first downs consisting of 4 runs for 19 yards and 3 passes for 23 yards.
Average Opening drive Last 5 games: 5 plays, 14 yards, 1 first down consisting of 2 runs for 5 yards and 3 passes for 9 yards.
Recommendation: Kick the ball to start the game. When we get the ball stretch the field by throwing intermediate routes when you pass, but in general start the game with more running plays.
Mack for Heisman?
Last year there was buzz for Manti Te'o's Heisman candidacy. While some used the dead girlfriend narrative to enhance his Heisman stock, others used Heisman moments, such as a key interception against Oklahoma. Others still attributed the stout Notre Dame defense to Te'o as exemplified by Notre Dame's goaline stand against the USC Trojans. Finally some just thought Te'o's stats spoke for themselves.
If those were the four reasons to send Manti Te'o to New York in 2012 for the Heisman ceremony, then I believe Khalil Mack should be invited to New York in 2013.
Unrelated To Actual Gameplay but Good for Mentioning in Articles and Broadcast Segments Narrative
Khalil Mack was only recruited by FCS Liberty out of high school. Turner Gill hired away a young coach from Liberty, Robert Wimberly, who suggested UB offer Mack. The rest as they say is history.
[Bonus Brent Musburger Slurred Dialog]: In fact former UB coaches Turner Gill and Wimberly are both back at Liberty today, and I bet the top schools in the nation are giving Liberties recruit list a once over these days.
[Bonus Kirk Herbstreit OSUBCS Bot 9000 Dialog]: He played a game against OSU, OSU won and Mack played well, but he does not see that OSU level competition every week and furthermore is probably not as good as any number of LBs on the OSU or any other BCS bench.
Intercepting and returning a Braxton Miller pass for a touchdown.
Attributing Team Success to One Player:
Buffalo, (or Buffalo, yea that's right Buffalo! as columnists like to write because it's so shocking that teams sometimes get better despite a system clearly stacked against the notion) is 8-3, the most regular season wins in UB FBS history, and it all starts with Mack's punishing defense. UB is 2nd in the nation in turnover margin, and have scored 137 points off turnovers*, including 63 points off of turnovers forced by Khalil Mack.
Bonus nugget for people who like to juxtapose bad Buffalo and good Buffalo: The 137 points off turnovers scored in 2013 alone would have outscored the 1999 Bulls, (scored 130 points in their first FBS season) and the 2005 Bulls, (scored 110 points in the last season before the Turner Gill hire).
*I included safety points and the points scored in the drive after a safety as points off turnovers.
(each player through 11 games)
|Player/Year||Touchdowns||Interceptions||Forced Fumbles||Fumble Recoveries|
The first stat chart shows that Mack is the more dynamic player, able to intercept the ball, force and recover fumbles and to return the ball back to the opponents end zone. Te'o is a one trick pony.
|Player/Year||Solos Tackles||Assisted Tackles||Tackles For Loss||sacks||Pass Breakups||QB Hurries|
The second stat chart shows that while Te'o was better at piling on an opponent who was already corralled, Mack is much better at being a disruptive force. Mack has 9 more sacks, 3 times the tackles for a loss and more pass breakups and QB hurries than Te'o.
It's hard to imagine Mack winning the Heisman with impressive years from Jordan Lynch, Johnny Football, Famous Jameis, Marcus Mariota, Lache Seastrunk, Braxton Miller and Nick Saban. However, if Te'o was invited to the Best Buy Theater, Mack should be as well.
Up All Night To Get Lucky?
As Buffalo is one game away from a return to the MAC Championship, it was appropriate for ESPN to show UB's last shot at the championship, 2008's win over #12 Ball State. It was inappropriate for the announcer to repeatedly discount the season and the win, by proclaiming it to be a fluke. Is Buffalo the luckiest championship team in the MAC? After checking, no, no they are not.
The U MAD? MAC Luck Index:
First off the least lucky teams are teams who have won a lot but have no championships to their name. The least lucky MAC teams over the last 10 years are
3. Ohio, 45 conference wins, 3 division titles, no championships.
2. Ball State, chirp chirp, you are unlucky, 45 wins, but only one failed shot to win the conference.
1. Bowling Green, 45 conference wins but they haven't won a MAC division despite having chances to win both the West and the East in the past 10 years.
Next we'll look at MAC Division winners of the past 10 years. 9 out of 16 teams in the MAC during that period have won a division but who was the luckiest and who the unluckiest?
3. Kent State: 36 conference wins, only 1 division win in 2012 and a heartbreaking loss to NIU in OT with the BCS on the line.
2. Ball State: 45 conference wins, only 1 division win in 2008 and a heartbreaking loss to UB with the BCS on the line.
1. Toledo: 49 conference wins have only translated into 1 division championship but at least they won the MAC that year.
3. Ohio: They turned 45 conference wins into 3 division championships in 10 years.
2. Northern Illinois: They have won a conference best 58 conference games in the past 10 years so you can't really call them lucky, but they have participated in 40% of the MAC Championship games of the last 10 years which is tough for any school, let alone a MAC school.
1. Miami: The Redhawks have turned 34 wins into 3 division championships. Miami is incredibly lucky. They have had 6 seasons with 3 or less conference wins, and 4 seasons with 5 or more conference wins and somehow they won the MAC East in 75% of their good seasons.
Finally, is Buffalo the luckiest MAC Champion of the past 10 years?
On a year to year basis, I'd still give that distinction to the Haywood Redhawks, but on an aggregate basis:
3. Northern Illinois and Buffalo have both won 29 conference games/Championship over the last 10 years, NIU has twice the wins and twice the championships.
2. Akron has a championship over a period where they only won 26 conference games. Long live Charlie Frye
1. CMU, Like a supernova burned brightly before losing it's flame and imploding. CMU has won 3 conference championships while winning 46 conference games. 27 of their conference wins came over a 4 year period.
The 2013 UB team is the highest scoring team in UB's FBS history. If they never score again this year, they will still be no lower than 2nd in points scored and points per game. UB has averaged over 19 points scored per game six times as a FBS school, 3 times under Gill, 3 times under Quinn. The Gill v. Quinn debate will rage on, what was once a onesided battle in Gill's favor has now evened out a bit however the real legacy of Quinn hinges on what happens in the next 15-20 games of his coaching career.