For the very first time today we got to see the new look UB Football team under new head coach Lance Leipold and his staff. I'll run though some general takeaways and observations from my first experience watching Leipold's Bulls.
The Offensive Playcalling is Very Balanced:
One of the calling cards under Jeff Quinn was the inevitability that the run game was going to dominate and that the offense was going to pound the rock. Under Leipold it looks like that the offense is going to be much more balanced - there was a good mix of both run and pass, using shotgun, pistol and I formations. There was even a bit of trickery thrown in with Tony Daniel nearly executing a flea flicker bomb on the very first play, just overthrowing receiver Jamarl Eiland who was wide open about 40 yards downfield.
Two tight end sets were a staple of the offense at Wisconsin-Whitewater and it was used heavily today; Offensive Coordinator Andy Kotelnicki will be leveraging Mason Schreck and Matt Weiser to their fullest. In fact, Schreck scored the first touchdown of the day on a quick strike from Tony Daniel in the red zone.
There was also a good balance among the run and pass plays themselves - a mix of sweeps, draws, and off-tackle runs and a mix of short, medium and deep passes.
The Offense Still Needs Work:
There were a few times when the offense looked like it had only been installed for a few weeks and will still need some work before the season starts. There were a few miscues - particularly the fumbled snaps were the most concerning. Obviously, the offensive line is a work in progress and will need time to gel together and with the quarterbacks to get the timing on snaps down just right.
Speaking of the offensive line - this was the grouping that ran with the first unit (from Left to Right):
John Kling - Dillon Guy - James O'Hagan - Brandon Manosalvas - Bobby Blodgett
Todd Therrien, Andy Fidler and Albert McCoy also got some work in with the first and second teamers.
There were times when the offensive line really got on the defense and were opening up holes for the running game, but there were other times when the defense just seemed to dominate the trenches and were in the backfield on a regular basis.
The Defense Shines:
I'm really digging Defensive coordinator Brian Borland's 4-3 attacking defense - it stole the show from the offense. The starting defensive line which consisted of Demone Harris, Max Perisse, Brandon Crawford, and Solomon Jackson. The D-Line got consistent pressure and penetration on the offensive line - particularly Perisse and Crawford dominating at the point of attack.
Solomon Jackson tallied a sack, and redshirt-freshman Randy Anyanwu collected a pair of impressive sacks. The defense also forced a pair of turnovers with starting safety Ryan Williamson collecting a diving interception on Tony Daniel, and Kyril Threats recovering a Michael Forman fumble.
The defensive backfield also seemed to be much improved from last season; the guys on the field with the first team were: Boise Ross, Marqus Baker, Brandon Williams, Andrews Dadeboe, and Williamson. They played tight coverage all day and when they did give up the catch the yards after were minimal - a very positive thing for a backfield that gave up a lot of big plays last year.
We all know the struggles of Patrick Clarke last season - and the two kickers on the roster, Adam Mitcheson and Sean Seefeldt will duke it out for the starting kicking duties. Seefeldt missed the only field goal attempt of the day, while Mitcheson missed an extra point attempt after the first touchdown. This will definitely be a battle to watch throughout the summer.
Other Odds n' Ends:
- There was only 1 penalty called throughout the scrimmage - Okezie Alosie was whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct after the Kyril Threats fumble recovery. Coach Leipold gave Alosie a talking to on the sideline during the next series. Overall, it was a very clean game, something Leipold mentioned that he wanted in a previous interview.
- Vanier College transfer Dev Lamour got some looks at receiver and fellow Canadian, quarterback Chris Merchant was looking for Lamour on several occasions.
- As I mentioned on Twitter, Jordan Collier, the UAB transfer looked fast and fluid on the field. He can definitely be an asset in the defensive backfield.
- Redshirt Freshman Gary Hosey got a few looks in at running back, and the 5-11 247 pound back looks like a tank. On a couple of occasions it took 3 or more defenders to bring him to the ground.
- The team was also injury free for the most part. The only stoppage in play due to a downed player was for Jacob Byron, a walk on tight end. Byron was down for a couple minutes then got his ankle looked at on the sideline. He would later return to the game.