For the second week in a row it was too little, too late for the Buffalo Bulls in yet another winnable game. The offense moved the ball well, with 7 drives of 50 or more yards, with 6 of those having 12 or more plays. But, what killed UB was the fact that the first 4 of those 50+ yard drives ended in 3 field goals and an interception in the endzone. Turn those field goals into touchdowns and this is a drastically different ball game.
The offense - generally...again. Before you get out your pitchforks and torches, there will be more on the offense below. The offense in general had another strong outing; gaining 500 total yards is nothing to sneeze at, 10-19 on 3rd down is a great number. UB also had a program record 34 first downs. I wasn't too pleased with the pass-happy offense in the 1st half with Licata attempting 32 passes in the first half, bu tyet again when relied on, the run game showed up with Taylor and Johnson combining for 138 yards. Matt Weiser also continued his strong play reeling in 8 receptions for a team high 90 yards. Ron Willoughby and Marcus McGill also caught 8 passes apiece and pitched in 88 and 73 yards respectively.
The Running Game - when used. UB abandoned the running game at points during the game, as I mentioned above the offense was pass-happy at times, but, whne it was used it was quite effective. Taylor and Johnson were able to eat up chunks of yards and as mentioned above they combined for 138 yards and both averaged over 4 yards per carry.
2nd Half Defense. After giving up 280 passing yards in the first half to Matt Johnson and being torched by the nation's leading receiver Roger Lewis to the tune of 196 yards, the defense came out of the half and held Johnson and Lewis to 44 and 5 yards respectively. Johnson was held to under 400 yards passing for the first time this season.
Field Goal Kicking. Small comfort in this one, but Adam Mitcheson looked good in poor weather conditions hitting all 3 of his field goal attempts from 27, 28, and 30 yards.
Sack, sack, sack. On one drive in the first half three defensive linemen, Max Perisse, Demone Harris and Brandon Crawford all brought down Matt Johnson.
Play Calling. On the offensive side the play calling was questionable to say the least. As I mentioned above the run game was abandoned at inopportune times throughout the game, and it seemed where the coaches forgot that they had Taylor and Johnson was after they crossed the Bowling Green 30 yard line. They consistently went to the air even with the conditions as poor as they were. One drive that was frustrating in particular was the second field goal drive where UB marched down to the 10 yard line then threw 3 consecutive times. On defense the pressure early on BGSU was good and forced them into a few mistakes, which resulted in the 3 sack drive, but they seemed to back it off as the game went on.
The Defense. The defense in the 2nd half kept UB in the game, there's no doubt about that, but early in the game they were unable to keep up with Bowling Green's pace or contain Roger Lewis. They stay out of the ugly this week thanks to a strong second half effort, the offense making them look worse by comparison because of their inability to score, and Lewis is going to torch plenty of teams this year.
Weather. I said earlier tin the day that the weather reminded me of the 2013 game vs. UMass, and it was cold, windy, rainy and miserable outside today. It definitely hurt attendance at UB Stadium.
#MACRefs. Blown calls, phantom penalties, calling the wrong penalties. Just another day at the office.
Finishing Drives. Woof. As I said above, the UB offense through the first three quarters had several drives of 12+ plays and 50+ yards, the big problem? They couldn't punch the ball into the endzone. Even on their first touchdown drive in the 4th quarter it took 4 tries from the 1 yard line to break the plane. UB had 2 three-and-outs in the 2nd quarter and that was it for the game, so it makes not scoring touchdowns look even worse.
Penalties. There were fewer this week, but they're still a big issue for UB. 8 total penalties for 88 yards including a couple brutal holding calls, one that wiped out a 18-ish yard Jordan Johnson run into the redzone and ended up stalling the drive resulting in a field goal.
The Interception. Even though he threw for 300+ yards the one throw that swung the game in Bowling Green's favor was Licata's interception in the endzone. BGSU blew the coverage and left Matt Weiser wide open in the flat but he tried to force it into double coverage and it went right into the Bowling Green player's hands.
This was another frustrating loss because of the lack of finishing on offense, and the defense being torched in the first half. But, the silver lining that I saw from today is that if UB is able to find consistency in execution on offense, this is going to be a very scary team going forward. It's all about making good decisions, executing, and finishing drives.