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Buffalo Bulls Football: Miami a Must-Win for Quinn?

Buffalo is five years into Jeff Quinn's tenure, but a 2-2 OOC record has us wondering: How critical is UB's MAC opener for the head man?

Vaughn Ridley

Looking back on the Quinn tenure, UB has seen games go one of three ways: a sure win, a competitive loss, or a 'no chancer'. The distribution among three is better than ten years ago, when you could make three categories of 'no way in hell,' 'let's make this respectable,' and 'if everything goes perfect.' I am happy that UB beats the teams it should beat including Stony Brook and Duquesne, but also lesser MAC opponents like EMU last year. Jeff Quinn has come a long way in terms of play calling, awareness during the game, and moving the needle slightly on coach speak. But is it still enough?

I still question his ability to use the best player versus sticking with 'his guy.' He does not have to worry at running back now, with Jordan Johnson injured, but I believe that based on the numbers Taylor should be the change of pace back as opposed to feature back.

Here the Bulls stand in the fifth year of the Quinnsperience. Gone is any excuse that Turner Gill left the cupboard bare. In fact, the argument should have been 'what would this team have accomplished if it was not for what Turner created and brought in (Bo, Neutz, Lee, Mack, Johnson)?'.  That is an argument we can have at the stadium over a frosty beverage and many hours.

My concern is borne from attitudes around this week's game: we have a division foe that has twenty straight losses coming to our house and yet many believe this game will be close or a toss up. This unease goes back to all of us trying to remember games in which Jeff Quinn steered the Bulls to victory when the advantage was not clear well before the game starts. Yes, that is why you play the game but can we be realistic: Last year the only true game that maybe the Bulls could have/should have won was Bowling Green.

To me, Toledo was a 'should win' game and I to this day cannot believe how flat the team started the game. Bowling Green was not a should win. It was a 'could very well win.' Buffalo was in that game but came out flat in the second half. Is that a coach/scheme issue, is it a focus issue, effort, or was it a talent issue? Can anyone really tell me that Bowling Green last year had better talent? I would love to hear that argument from anyone besides a true BGSU fan. Congrats to BGSU but the Bulls had the talent to win.

Circling back to Miami, this week's foe, a team that has 20 straight (have I mentioned that already?) losses with a new head coach and this game has the Bulls as less than a touchdown favorite in Amherst. It does not make sense. Back for Buffalo are five starters on the offensive line, a junior QB who right now is already the second best QB ever to play in Amherst. The Bulls have size and talent on the defensive line as well linebackers who last year made some really big plays.

Let's talk about the one game that UB could have lost and no one would have been surprised, yet won. That game was Ohio in 2011. Ohio was a ten win team that season with losses to Rutgers, Ball State, Northern Illinois, and Buffalo. Ohio that year beat New Mexico State, Gardner-Webb, Marshall, Kent State, Akron, Temple, Central Michigan, BGSU, Miami, and Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. UB came into the game as an eight point underdog at home. This maybe the only game you look back positively on the Chazz Anderson experiment. Ohio had some future pros: including Mickey Tettleton's son and LaVon Brazil, who currently plays for the Toronto Argonauts after time with the Colts. Neutz and Bo also had solid games and the Bulls got their second win of the season before ending the season with a total of three wins.

UB has only beaten one other team in Jeff Quinn's tenure with a winning record besides 2011 Ohio. In 2012, the Bulls beat an Ohio team that ended up 7-6.

For this article, and you may disagree, but I am not counting FCS schools. To recap the Bulls wins:

2010 - A two win Bowling Green team and a win over FCS Rhode Island.

2011 - The game we spoke earlier over Ohio, a one win Akron team, and FCS foe Stony Brook.

2012 -  The Bulls beat Miami and Western Michigan, who had four wins each, UMass with one, and FCS Morgan State.

2013 - The Bulls beat seven-win Ohio, Kent who ended with four,  UConn, who was winless until finishing the season on a three-game run, EMU (two), Western Michigan and UMass (both one), and Miami, who went winless. Buffalo also beat FCS Stony Brook.

I honestly do not have the heart to look at the records of the teams that beat the Bulls over that stretch.  Flip the dial to 2014 and let's look at the Bulls start of the season. UB beat Norfolk and Duquesne - both FCS foes who, I am sorry, they should not be able to compete. Baylor was worlds apart from Buffalo (as Buffalo is to FCS teams - have I kicked this dead horse enough?).

I would probably be in a much better spot if UB beat Army. To be honest, looking at how that played out, UB was not beating Army. That being said Army the last three years has gone 3-9, 2-10, 3-9, and their only win so far in 2014 has been Buffalo as they sit at 1 - 2.

Once again, here comes a team that has lost 20 straight games. Really, the only upgrade for Miami has been at quarterback, but it's been a big one, though Miami also lost depth in the trenches and in the secondary. Buffalo should beat a team like Miami, especially with all the stability that comes with five years under the same coach. Quinn has had a very low bar the past couple of years but that needs to change, as new coaches look to be turning around their programs much quicker than Quinn, who's been lucky to compete against such weak teams. If Quinn struggled to win those toss ups in the past, and doesn't succeed in 2014 with the easiest schedule UB will ever see, then the next couple of years will be rough. Very rough.

I do expect the Bulls to win on Saturday. What I want to see is UB come out and beat a team that has lost its first four games. I understand who the opponents were for the Redhawks. But get up early and do not take your foot off the gas like you did against Duquesne. It happens so many times where the Bulls look unstoppable and then go into a slumber. If you go into a slumber with this team who can see a chance to finally win a game, they will do everything they can to walk out of Amherst with a big win. This game goes a long way to see what kind of coaches Quinn and his staff are.