Starting this week several Buffalo Fans will be kicking around the questions which burn in the ears of UB Nation.
- BullsFanInChiTown: UB Fan in the windy city who is a true student.
- BC Bull: Our Boston resident who is both a Buffalo and Boston College fan.
- UB2010: Our Boots on the ground in Buffalo, Alumnus of the University and avid follower of all UB Sports.
- BRJACR: Want to know what a Buffalo fan who's only tie to UB is his love of football? This is our adopted UB fan.
1: So far how has this season played out to your expectations? For my part this season has been about what I expected of it. I had said this summer that UB going to a Bowl would hinge on how well we hung with UCF. UB is in line to win its last three, if they had beaten UCF they would be 6-6.
BC Bull: Recordwise, things have gone about how I thought they might, but the way it's happened has been disconcerting. Some of the struggles were anticipated, but I never thought playcalling, QB play, and RB production would be nearly as much of an issue as they have been.
On the positive side, the defense has been tremendous while consistently being hung out to dry by the O.
ChiTown: Up to this point, the team has not played how I had expected them too. With that said, the only game that I look back on and am disappointed we lost was Miami at home. All of our other loses are not really disappointing because we played some really good teams.
The one unit that has not lived up to expectations this year is our secondary. Going in to this year, they were expected to carry our defense, and they have done the exact opposite. Shannon and Cook are having outstanding seasons, but outside of those two, it has been very disappointing. The two units that had huge question marks heading in to the season, (WR, DL), have been the most encouraging.
2010: The record has played out to my expectations. Two things, I did not expect the losses to be as bad. Secondly, I bought into the Quinn energy and hype machine and maybe expected to see more. I started to believe that with Quinn’s prowess for the O-Line and the spread offense with a strong defense returning that we could go Bowling. To say the least, the offense has been a big disappointment. The defense did enough to let us win some games. Right now the defense is dejected and burned out.
BRJACR: Going into the season, I thought 6-6 or 7-5 where very possible. And I even thought 8-4 could be a real possibility, considering UB had 6 "winnable" home games. I really thought Davis could step in, go through his growing pains, and with the defensive experience, and things would be alright. Now UB is on too Zordich, and the defensive secondary has been lit up far too often, leaving UB facing, at best, a 5-7 record. So obviously, things havent played out to my expectations, but in all honesty, considering everything, Im still OK with it. I really need to see how UB finishes out the season to really know for sure. If they can win out, Ill be thinking I was only off by 1 or 2 games and they are getting better for next year. But if they continue to struggle, Im thinking this was a wasted year, which Im not OK with.
ChiTown: I think it will be a huge difference. Switching an offensive scheme takes a lot more then switching defensive schemes. I think it is fair to blame some of this season on the rebuilding of the offense because this is the first year that it has been implemented. It will differ from the defense next year for a few reasons. One, all the young guys are learning the defensive system and will have a full grasp on it next year. Two, a lot of backups are getting playing time. Look at a guy like Okoye Houston, who is a true freshman, who is getting a lot of playing time. I have been very impressed with his play. He reminds me of Mike Newton. Carlos Lammons has struggled at times this year, but he is another freshman playing this year. We will get Pettigrew back next season as well. Our front seven will still be strong with Mack and Means back. I still see our defense being fine next year, simply because Inge is a great defensive coordinator, and this scheme works.
BC Bull: I think next year the defense will once again be superior to the offense. The changes to the defense between last year and now may not be as drastic as the changes JQ has implemented in the offense, but the defense is having success while the offense seems to be floundering. The offense should improve with more time in the new system, but the defense will continue to be the strong point because they'll have been succeeding for more time in their new system.
BRJACR: For me, rebuilding on the offense is different this year because of the new QB starter and the new system. Next year, rebuilding on the defense isnt the same because the players will have a years worth of games and practices in the new scheme, and it will only be a matter of putting new faces into it. So they really are two different things. To be perfectly honest, Im tired of the term "rebuilding." If UB wants to get to the point of being considered a consistent and successful program, they cant keep having "rebuilding" years as an excuse for a bad year. Its very rare to get the perfect year where everything sets up perfectly. "Player Turnover" is the name of the game in college football, and good teams find a way to put good teams on the field year in, year out.
2010: The defense is losing basically the entire secondary and some of their best athletes. UB will be thrown against all season and I have concerns with the depth at this position for next season. The only bright side is the play of the D line ends and linebacker. Losing Justin Winter hurts. We need someone to step up to play the interior of the line. We are not losing major studs but there is a lot to be said for the experience on the line now. The Defense will take a step down but will not look as bad as the offense has looked this year.
3: Would you try to get Warden any snaps before the season is over so that come spring we have two or three QB's who have seen the speed of the game? In a heart beat. If UB has a two score lead in the 4th Quarter of any game I would put warden in so that we get the best possible competition this spring.
BRJACR: I think this depends on what their plans are for Davis. If they are planning on moving him to another position, and if they have firm commitments from QB recruits for next year, and if they still arent sure about Zordich, and if UB finds itself way ahead in a game, then maybe they should consider seeing what Warden can do in a live game. If Davis is going to remain at QB, then there isnt a need for Warden to play, and he can keep his redshirt. Right now, Im happy with Zordich as QB1, and thats coming from someone who was all for Davis from the start. There are alot of "unknown ifs" before I'd entertain thoughts of Warden getting on the field.
ChiTown: I would not play Warden at this point in the season. I am all for Zordich playing the rest of the season. Zordich has shown the work ethic necessary to be successful at this level, and the important part about this is that it is showing on the field. He is making improvement, and unless he gets injured, Zordich is my guy the rest of the season.
2010: No, I would use this time to give either of the top two QB’s as much reps as possible. We also have some strong QB’s coming in next year. Quinn has to ride one guy for the rest of the season to build timing and confidence.
BC Bull: Only, ONLY in a blowout, and even then I'm torn about it. There are no games the rest of the season that aren't winnable for the Bulls, and I'm a fan of consistency and would like to get as much out of Zordich as possible for the rest of the season.
4: If UB wins out, and finishes 5-7, what grade would you give to the team this season? Emotionally I would give the team a D because of how other MAC teams have been dumping on us. Realistically 5-7 would be a C.
ChiTown: If we can manage to win out, which I think we will, then I would have to grade this season a success. Before the season started, I said that I expected a 5-7 record from this team. Obviously, some of the things that have transpired throughout the season I would of not liked to see, but when it comes down to it we still have a chance to win 5 games. If we manage to do that, it be a great way to send out the seniors, it would give our young guys confidence, and it would make the fans happy.
2010: If you would have asked me that question at the beginning of the season, I would have given a B or C for 5 - 7. Right now, I have to give that a D. We beat the teams that are soft and really did not put up a fight against anyone else. I also have concerns with players not progressing on the field. I am very concerned over the future of this ball club. I have to say that I am disappointed. I am also not convinced that UB will be 5 – 7. I really hope that they show me something the next three weeks.
BC Bull: I expected the Bulls to go 5-7 at the beginning of the season, and we knew coming in that the most winnable games were at the end of the season. That said, with the gift of hindsight I'm not really satisfied with a potential 5-7 finish. The UCF game in particular was one where the team was clearly capable of playing better than they did, and in many other cases the team just looked lost. Maybe the wins and losses don't change, but the losses (and even the BG win) have left far more room for pessimism than optimism.
BRJACR: I only give them a D+. I know I said earlier that Ill be alright with, and be happy with 5-7, but thats me, I have already "bought" into the program and have a better understanding of what UB is trying to do. What bothers me about it is, UB will be two seasons removed from 2008. Any kind of outside interest from the WNY sports fan (who havent "bought in" and who UB needs more of to start filling up UB Stadium) generated by that season is slowly running out, if it hasnt already. Just by mere attendance numbers this year, you have to wonder. There was absolutely no way there were 12,000+ people in the stands for the Miami(OH) game. With the cursory glance that these others are giving UB at the moment, they see two 5-7 records in a row, and not having a greater understanding of the circumstance going on with the program, I fear, they are just thinking well 2008 was nice, but they're (UB) back to what they were before. And in all honesty, most WNY Sports Fans, are tired of losing, thanks Bills and Sabres.
5: Aside from the Quarterback position at which spot do you most need to see improvement to feel good about our chances next season? The offensive line needs to improve and we lose peter Bittner so that going to be no small task.
2010: That is a huge aside, the QB. That is the big one. The second biggest and I have to rehash my point from question #2 is the secondary. The Bulls are losing some of the best players UB has ever had in the secondary. I need to see some players step up. It was a concern that we could not fill Newton’s shoes even in the slightest. Was not expecting anyone to be close to what Mike contributed but that position hurt UB this year.
ChiTown: The offensive line play has got to improve heading in to next year, or we will see more of the same on offense. We have all of our skill positions on offense returning next year (minus Ike, Therm), but it won’t mean much if our offensive line can’t block. They have to improve or guys like Gill, Oliver and Potts will not play how they are capable of playing. I am excited though next year to see some of the redshirt freshman on offense play, like Potts, Hughes, Dixon, Redden, and Burton. It all comes back to the offensive line though.
BRJACR: This is a tough question. You could go with Oline, Dline, or the Defensive Backs. With all of them, your going to see fresh faces in there next year, at least with the Oline (hopefully Coach Quinn gets more of his types of guys) and the DBs. Im thinking I want to see more of the Defensive backs who are going to be stepping into the starting roles at all 4 positions in the back. I really just want to see if these guys are going to be able to play effectively next year when they are the "Next Bull In."
BC Bull: Offensive line - obviously things have been upset by injuries but the OL play has been inconsistent and maddening. Who knows if the QBs would be better with a bit more time, but it's tough to place all the blame on them.
RB production - intertwined with the OL issues but at the same time the running game seems to betray the skill the Bulls have in the backfield. Many thought coming into the season that some combo of Oliver/Gill/Thermilus/Nduka would dominate our offense and control the clock. Instead, the running game for the most part has failed to produce and the offense has done anything but control time of possession.
Playcalling - I understand that the first year of a new system comes with a difficult transition period as old personnel might not match the new system, but some of JQs decisions this year have been maddening. 3rd and 4th and short situations in particular have stood out as What?! moments, as has the odd loyalty to Oliver even while Jeffvon Gill comes in and move the chains. I also really have a problem with Zordich running as often as he has been in recent games, though that may be a Zordich decision and not a Quinn one