1) Mirror Opposites
Penn State fans and UB fans had almost the exact opposite experience on Saturday:
At about the 50 Play mark, UB jump up to a 10 point lead, and Penn State's 10 point lead dropped, from there it kept getting better for Buffalo and kept getting worse for Penn State. After an early dip, UB controlled their game.
2) Pass Game
PSU had the same amount of sacks as completions. Out of their 35 drop backs, 71% resulted in an incompletion, a sack or an interception. 48% of Albany's pass plays were completed, which is really good compared to what we did last year.
Against the Albany defense, UB moved with ease completing 73% of drop backs and having no sacks or interceptions. PSU held Temple to 58% completions on drop backs.
This will be a big match-up this week. Can UB's offense produce against the Penn State defense who did a pretty good job against Temple? Can UB's defense stymie Penn State's offense, or was it just a one week aberration?
3) Run Game
For PSU Brandon Polk was explosive, but only saw a couple of carries, Akeel Lynch ran for about 8 yards per carry, but only saw 10 carries. Despite the idea of the dominant Temple defensive line, they weren't very good against the run, but Penn State didn't commit to the run, especially as sacks created long distance situations.
For UB, Taylor and Johnson each ran for over 5 yards per carry. If they can keep that average up against a PSU team that held Temple to 3.95 yards per run. UB's defense held Albany to 3.59 yards per run (while the game was within 28 points) but they face a much stiffer challenge this week with the bigger Penn State OL and the talented Akeel Lynch
4) WR Targets by Starting QBs
The matchup of the game may be Chris Godwin against Boise Ross. Godwin was targeted 7 times catching 5 balls for 81 yards, 11.5 yards per target and 16 yards per reception.
Buffalo's had four receivers finish with 10+ yards per target: Ron Willoughby, Collin Lisa, Mason Schreck and Jacob Martinez, but we'll need to see more from Matt Weiser who had a team high 6 targets, but only gained 21 yards.
5) Situational Play Calling
UB stayed 50/50 balanced until the game got out of hand late.
PSU was about 65% pass until the fourth until PSU went behind and they moved to heavy pass offense.
By score differential:
UB ran more when the game was close, passed more once they got a lead to make it a bigger lead, then ran the ball to churn clock with a big lead.
PSU was pass heavy with a one possession deficit and with a 10 point lead.
By field position:
UB ran the ball more in the red zone, at midfield and at their own 20, although those numbers are likely skewed by the heavy run offense with a big lead. In spite of the lead, UB threw the ball often inside their own 30 to about midfield. With a one game sample size that seems to be Leipold's preferred passing zone.
Penn State was more balanced deep in their own territory, but once they hit their own 40, it was all pass all the time.
UB (first graph) ran more on 1st and 2nd down and threw more on 3rd. This graph represents UB's play when the game was within a 21-point differential to avoid skew from the heavy run strategy late in the game.
PSU ran more on first down, but threw often on 2nd down and never ran on 3rd down, this can be explained by the next graph...
Average distance per down:
UB played with an average 2nd and 7, 3rd and 5. This allowed UB to remained balance on each down.
Penn State played with an average 2nd and 11, 3rd and 11 and 4th and 12. Temple's ability to sack the QB put PSU in more obvious passing downs which lead to a predictable offense and more sacks.
Can UB sack the QB and force Penn State into a one-dimensional passing team?
Can UB prevent a breakout run from Brandon Polk and contain Akeel Lynch?
Can Boise Ross stop Chris Godwin?
Can Taylor and Johnson run for 5 ypc against PSU?
Can UB's big 4 receivers stay on a 10+ yards per target rate?
Can the UB offense remain efficient in the passing game with no sacks and no INTs?