With last Thursday's loss to the Ohio Bobcats, the Buffalo Bulls will once again not be going to a bowl. It seemed like a tough road ahead after the opening loss to Albany anyways, but hope was always there. So now that the team is officially eliminated from consideration, a big question looms. Now what? What should this team look to do in these final three games against Miami, Western Michigan, and Bowling Green. Here's a look in to what I hope to see from this team to provide hope towards the future.
A Fight to the Finish
I've notoriously been very hard on this team for their lack of energy. It's inexcusable not to come out and play your heart out every week. That being said, I hope to see a fight build in this team. Not one that will get them to a post season game, but one of pride. Last season, the Bulls were not ineligible from a bowl until the last week of the season. This year, there are still multiple games on the schedule. I do not want this season to go down as a complete loss. I still believe this team is capable of winning 2 of the final 3 and coming away with a four win season. To do this however, the team needs to have pride. If they come out defeated because they have been eliminated from bowl contention, then this season will continue it's plummet. Yes these games don't mean anything for this season, but the implications for next year are huge.
Continued Development of Tyree Jackson
I'm the first to admit that I've been slightly disappointed with the play by freshman quarter back Tyree Jackson. That being said, I've also seen great moments. It's my believe that he would be better suited as a run first quarterback who can complete the 5-10 yard passes instead of the constant deep ball. I look at the highlights against Akron and Jackson was able to do so well just by using his legs. I hope to see a game plan better suited to their young play caller versus one that results in low completion percentages and constant punts. I think these final three games will show us a lot about Jackson as well. Does he choose to phone it in or does he too fight to win every game. He's a leader on this team, and I hope to see him give everything he has this season until the clock hits 0:00 against Bowling Green.
Play Calling to be Suited Towards the Teams Strengths
I have not been impressed with the offensive play calling this season. In the losses I feel as if too much is put on the home run play and not enough is about moving the chains. In the teams two wins Jordan Johnson was utilized and the deep ball wasn't the go to play. I would love to see more passes to the TEs and more designed runs for Jackson. This team has weapons, it's just about being able to properly utilize them. This is not an offense that can run a pro style set. Experiment with the triple option here or there. Try new things that can be built upon in future. I'm not saying that the team should try and learn an entire new offense in these final three weeks, but I'd like to see our game plan focus our key players and play makers.
I feel as if this concept hasn't been addressed enough this season. While I've been disappointed with the defense, I feel as if the offense hasn't helped them enough. Complimentary football is huge to any programs success. Take a look at Louisville. Everyone raves about Lamar Jackson and their offense but they also have a defense that lets them compete. In order to win college football games, you need to have an offense that compliments the defense and vise versa. In the Boston College game, the defense made numerous three and outs just to have the offense turn the ball right back over. Other times like against Kent State the offense would get a first down or two only to have the defense let up big plays on the following drive. If you look at the two wins, Akron and Army, the Bulls played well on both sides of the ball. The two groups helped the other. I'm looking for more of that in the next few weeks to help build towards next year.
Overall, this has been a very tough year. It's hard to feel excited about all these next few games but you have to keep the faith. Let's watch for this few points among other things and see what this team has left. Winning 2 out of the last 3 and 3 of the last 5 to close a tough season gives hope to the 2017 campaign. If the team sputters in these final 3, I do believe changes have to be made. Until then, I'm going to hold faith and hope for the best.