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Taylor Steps Up Big In Oliver’s Absence

How many Bulls fans expected Anthone Taylor to be an impact player for Buffalo this year? Not many but the sophomore running back is making believers out of everyone to start the year.

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Branden Oliver is the leader of the Bulls offense.

Despite Joe Licata being the man at quarterback and Alex Neutz coming down with the majority of Licata’s passes, Oliver is the man that makes the Buffalo offense gel.

The last two games however, Oliver hasn't been able to lead his teammates in full capacity.

After injuring himself against Baylor, a game in which he carried the ball only 13 times, Oliver was unable to participate in the Bulls 26-23 5OT win Saturday afternoon against Stony Brook.

Stepping up big in his absence was redshirt sophomore Anthone Taylor.

A lightly recruited running back out of high school, Taylor did better than expected in his first collegiate start, running for 118 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries.

Even more impressive about Taylor’s start was that he didn’t know he was starting until right before game time.

"Bo was in pregame and didn’t feel 100 percent," Jeff Quinn said during Monday’s MAC teleconference "

Quinn approached Taylor right before game time and the Huber Heights native instantly knew what was going on.

"We have a little saying here, it’s called the Next Bull In, it didn’t even come out of my mouth. It came out of his" Quinn said.

Taylor got off to a slow start as the Bulls offense struggled during regulation.

His one-yard touchdown run with 5:35 left in the 3rd quarter put Buffalo up 10-0 and marked the first touchdown of his collegiate career.

Taylor went on to score one more touchdown in the contest; the game-winner from six-yards out in the fifth overtime to give the Bulls a 26-23 win.

The run capped off a performance in which Taylor was the best Bulls offensive player on the field.

"He’s really stepped in" Quinn said, "When we needed him, we were able to get a great effort."

Branden Oliver will probably be back starting for Buffalo two weeks from now when the Bulls hit the field versus Connecticut.

That’ll relegate Taylor back to backup duty but make no mistake; the sophomore running back has proven that he has the skills to get the job done.

Expect Taylor to become more involved in the Bulls offense than was previously thought.

Paired with Oliver, Buffalo now displays a solid running back duo.

So while Oliver is still the leader of the Bulls offense, it may only be a matter of time till he passes the torch over to Taylor.