Each week leading up to the 2014 football season we'll be profiling current UB football players who are looking to "Make the Leap" or breakout this season. These can include any current UB players whether that be a backup coming into a starters role or a starter that is ready to elevate their game to the next level. Our offensive player for this week is big tight end Matt Weiser.
2013 Season Review
Last season coming out of camp Matt Weiser earned the starting tight end job and never looked back. He played in and started all 13 games, and recorded 13 receptions for 154 yards and one touchdown. His lone touchdown of the year was this beauty in the season opener against Ohio State:
Contrary to what the announcer says in the video Weiser was on the receiving end of the touchdown not teammate Mason Schreck.
While he didn't have a great statistical season, Weiser provided a sure-handed target in the flat and up the seam for Joe Licata and he also pitched in as a blocker in both run and passing situations putting his big frame (6-5, 240) to good use as a 6th offensive lineman.
Heading into his junior season Weiser won't be without several obstacles to a successful time out on the gridiron:
- The Old Quinner: During his tenure as head coach of the Bulls Jeff Quinn's offense has never produced a tight end that has exceeded 200 receiving yards or 2 touchdowns. That statistic alone is reason for pessimism; Quinn and offensive coordinator Alex Wood's spread offense relys heavily on possesion wide receivers and a strong running game. Therefore, the tight ends are relegated to the more traditional duty of acting as an extra blocker and a safety valve if need be.
- Competition: Even if Weiser earns the starting job this season he will be facing heat from sophomore Mason Schreck for playing time and catches. Last season as a freshman, Schreck, a converted quarterback emerged last season, catching 17 balls for 147 yards and 2 touchdowns. Schreck has enormous upside because he's played the position for so little time so Weiser will need to be at his best if he'll want to hold him off.
2014 Season Expectations
Weiser has a very good chance to buck the trend of Jeff Quinn's tight end's not produce much statistically, for several reasons. First, Weiser returns as the member of the total receiving corps (TE + WRs) that has the most starting experience with 13 starts under his belt. Second, entering the 2014 season the Bulls will be looking for any help they can get in the pass catching department given the losses of leading receivers Alex Neutz and Fred Lee; so, Weiser may be relied upon because he is the most experienced receiver on the roster. Finally, Weiser has the size to be a real mismatch in the seam when lining up across from linebackers, he's also surehanded enough to make an array of different catches.
Be on the look out for Weiser this season, he could be an integral part of the offense if the coaches help tailor two tight end packages around him and Mason Schreck. I think Weiser will improve on his numbers from last season, but I'm skeptical about the involvement of the tight end in the passing game in Alex Wood's offense
Prediction: 20 receptions, 225 receiving yards, 3 touchdowns