When Buffalo lines up across from Stony Brook’s offense they will face a unit which is the complete opposite of their week one opponent. Where the Panthers run a fast paced offense designed to move the ball through the air Stony Brook uses a ground game anchored by two backs that went over a thousand yards last year. If last week is any indication those backs will do it again this season.
Brock Jackolski and Miguel Maysonet started their season with 96 and 103 yards respectively. Jackolski, a preseason All-Big South selection, rushed for 1,029 yards last season, while Maysonet, a preseason All-American and All-Big South selection, ran for 1,128 yards.
"Obviously this is the strongest position of our team, top to bottom. This has been and will continue to be the focal point of our offense." Coach Prior.
Where UB had to run the ball thirty times just to get Oliver over one hundred yards the SeaWoves backs averaged more than five per carry against UTEP.
That puts quarterback Michael Coulter in the role of 'game manager'. The Senior from Yorba Linda, California has been the starter at Stony Brook for two seasons. In 23 starts he has thrown for 32 touchdowns and more than 4,000 yards. Putting aside the disastrous overtime interception last week you're looking at a quarterback who can do just enough damage to keep opponents from stacking the box.
The offensive line is augmented by block first tight ends and a regular full back. But even without that Stony Brook has a respectable front five. They are not going to be the same unit they were last season. The loss of Paul Fenaroli started a chain of position changes on the line.
The line is big but not excessively so and UB's hybrid 3-4 brings more of a punch than what UTEP has this season. The 'weak' area of Buffalo's defensive line centers around an inconsistent pass rush. UTEP's run first, run often, offense might play into the hands of the UB defense, especially Coach William Inge's linebackers.
Senior Matt Brevi was their main target last season, he accounted for 668 last year and made Phil Steele's all Big South preseason team this year. Junior Jordan Gush was the other big threat from last season, he racked upfor five touchdowns, and 525 yards.
Brevi and Jordan are the big threats but Stony Brook spreads the ball around in the passing game. Last week in a game with just 16 completions eight SeaWolves caught a pass. Of the player catching a pass two were running backs and three tight ends.
The Bulls defensive backfield held up pretty well against the Panthers during the first half. They were decidedly less effective in the second. The difference between the two halves was the pace at which Pitt was lining up. A young, very green, secondary has a lot of pieces to put into place before each snap, when you're getting 6-10 seconds between plays there is no time to really think about it.
Stony Brooks attack is not going to tax the defensive backs so much as the linebackers. UB's pass coverage of tight ends has been awful. The coverage of players coming out of the backfield is not a whole lot better. One huge knock on Lee Skinner was his pass coverage skills, Pitt never really tested that, nor did they really test UB with their tight ends.
Stony Brook's running game will be like nothing the Bulls typically see. In an age of spread offenses and a fast pace UB lines up against an offense that pounds the ball at you 75% of the time using two backs to do it.
This will be a test for UB, one that I think they should pass but still a test. The SeaWolves are going to come in hungry having choked away a win against UTEP, they are playing against another SUNY school, and trying to make a name for themselves this year by knocking off an FBS program.
Any given Saturday is a truism, especially once you get up into the top 15 or so FCS schools out there. There is a propensity to blow off FCS teams as 'cupcakes', in much the same way hig power AQ schools blow off mid-major FBS squads.
Buffalo has been burned by Cupcakes in recent history and two MAC squads got beat by FCS schools last year. Were this UB's team last season I would actually expect a close game or loss from Stony Brook.
As is stands I would be surprised if UB 'Blows Out' the Seawolves, especially early. UB's notorious for starting games slowly and the SeaWolves have a great ball control offense. It's going to be up to the defense, in particular the front seven, to give Chazz Anderson and the offense time get moving.