Harumph harumph harumph. That was no good yesterday.
I'm going to forgo the summary that I included in last week's takeaways post and just get right to my thoughts, since by now you can find out what happened elsewhere.
I think a number of things are evident about our wide receivers. Willoughby isn't the clear #1 that we saw against Duquesne, but for the first time in a couple recruiting cycles, we have a balanced WR corps across three or four options. Marcus McGill was the guy who got the biggest numbers this week, but preseason favorites Devon Hughes and Boise Ross got more action than in the first game.
Ignoring everything else that happened yesterday, it's nice that it hasn't taken until someone's senior year (Marcus Rivers), or someone to miss time due to concussion (Alex Neutz) for our QB to develop rapport with multiple targets.
The most frustrating part of this loss is that for the most part, UB just flat out got beat by scheme. The triple-option is really different from most college offenses, but it's not exactly a surprise. It's also not difficult to map out - nearly every high school team in WNY runs it. You've got to know that the offense thrives when the quarterback is waiting as long as possible to make his decision, and you've got to do everything possible to force that decision earlier. Without ny backfield penetration, UB couldn't do that.
That said, UB's deficiencies on pass defense are entirely different from what happened against Duquesne. No less frustrating, but entirely different. If you thought our defense didn't look great with a single corner and no safety help, then it looked a lot worse when Army completed a half dozen passes to completely uncovered men.
Since UB's linebackers couldn't control the running threats of the option, the cornerbacks were forced to pinch in and help Santiago from gaining the edge. Once they did that, it was game over, since they were leaving their man open and giving Santiago an easy completion.
Brandon Crawford was seen on crutches on the sideline. That sucks.
I made a note on Twitter late during the game that in my high school cross-country days, it was a bad thing if you finished a race at a full sprint. Of course you wanted to finish strong, but you also should have used up that energy long ago. I'm not at all the first person to say this, but just like the Toledo game last year, it's almost worse to see the offense put some firepower and efficient quick-strike aspects in once the game was out of reach.
Last year, I used the second half of the Toledo game as a source of optimism that the team could score on the better squads in the MAC and convinced myself that the first half was a blip on the radar.
Since then, it's become apparent that frequently under Quinn the team just isn't ready to play, and that is a bad thing. I'm not encouraged by the second half comeback, because I already knew UB could score on Army.
I was a fan of the coaching decision to be aggressive at the end of the first half, despite the point swing after Licata's interception. With 50 seconds and a timeout or two, UB could have gotten into FG territory at least, and made it a one-possession game. That said, Licata's throw on the interception was truly into no-man's land between two receivers who were both covered. It was a surprising departure from the usually aware and sound decision-making of the junior QB.
Another disappointing thing about this is UB's prospects against Baylor, even a Baylor that's depleted at QB and WR. The Bears run an offense completely on the other end of the spectrum from Army's, and it doesn't look like Buffalo can stop that either. At least there's a pregame concert.
It feels now like we have weeks until there's a game that will tell us anything. After Baylor we take on FCS Norfolk State and Miami. Without a doubt, we should beat Norfolk, and if we don't, there are even bigger issues than were uncovered yesterday. We should also beat Miami, but who can be sure right now? It's strange and deflating to be so unsure about this team but to be pretty confident that they'll still be 3-2 at the end of the month, because the next three opponents occupy such extremes of the CFB spectrum.