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Joe Licata: The Bull Run Debate

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Bull Run Debates Joe Licata. After an opening statement, I will address 10 Joe Licata concerns. J. David Brand will then counter with his concerns about Licata.

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The oldest saying in the game, the quarterback gets too much credit for wins and too much credit for losses. But it's ringing true in Buffalo. The negativity around senior QB Joe Licata has gotten stronger each week as Buffalo's offense has sputtered to turn what could have easily been a 5-0 or 4-1 start into another disappointing 2-3 start.

#1 We Only Like him Because he's Local / People Crowned Licata as a Savior

The local argument makes no sense to me. I certainly don't care where a player is from. If he can play, he can play.

I did, and I still do crown Licata as a savior because with Branden Oliver, Alex Neutz and Khalil Mack, Chazz Anderson and Alex Zordich were 2-16 in FBS games between 2011-12. Joe Licata in 2012-2013 was 10-6. UB improved .514 percentage points and went to their second bowl game and the only change was the addition of Joe Licata. Joe was crowned a savior because he was a savior, he saved the last year for Mack, Neutz and Oliver.

Since then, Licata kept the team together through the talent cliff as well as the Quinn firing and led UB to their 3rd best season in FBS history. Licata is 12-8 (60%) against MAC teams, Willy went 12-18 (40%), and every other QB in UB history combined went 13-66 (16.5%) against MAC foes.

We only expect to win now because Licata gave us those expectations. I'm not going to use those expectations to tear him down on his way out.

#2 High Expectations

Speaking of expectations, we expected to have great offense and poor defense. Turns out we got the opposite. That's sucks, but it's okay. Every season has a point where it looks like the year is wasted and it's about how you respond. I want to see how Licata responds, I don't want to bury him. In 2008, UB started 2-4, and was down 24-10 entering the 4th quarter of game #7. The 2014-15 Bulls Men's Basketball team started MAC play 5-6 and looked too undisciplined to put together the string of wins needed to win the MAC Tournament.

What happened in 2008? UB won game #7 with a 4th quarter comeback, and then won five of their next six to win the MAC Championship.

What happened in 2014-15? UB won eight consecutive en route to a MAC Championship.

High expectations didn't mean benching Willy, or benching Shannon Evans or changing the system, or doing anything more radical than working every day and getting better every day. When it clicks, it clicks.

We're five games into the season, and we played three of our four toughest foes. I'd love to win a game or two against the tough guys, but we aren't there, and we can get where we need to go by beating the teams we should beat. Once we do that consistently, we'll develop into the giant beaters. Look how long Ohio and Toledo have been good; we haven't had that success, and we can't have beat Arkansas aspirations, we haven't earned it.

BGSU faces five tough tests in their final six games. They host Akron and Ohio, go to WMU, host Toledo and finish at Ball State. They could lose any of those games and open the MAC East race for any team that just wins the games they are supposed to win. We can still have MAC Championship aspirations and I will until we are mathematically eliminated.

#3 Licata is no Willy

Statistically, Willy and Licata are pretty even. Licata throws for more yards per attempt, Willy was better at avoiding INTs, Licata better at throwing TDs, and has more wins, but Willy was the recipient of less turnovers from the defense per game than Licata. If stats don't tell the story for you remember Willy started 2-4 in 2008 and was down 14 in the 4th quarter of game #7. Ask yourself, was Willy dominant during that the first half of 2008? Was UB going down 27-7 to BGSU in 2008 that much different than going down 28-9 to BGSU in 2015? If UB in 2008 played BGSU in game #5 instead of game #11, would the comeback have happened?

Category

Willy

Licata

Advantage

Yard/Att

6.62

7.08

Licata

Att/TD

25.42

16.36

Licata

Att/INT

44.07

40.59

Willy

Win %

35.71%

47.37%

Licata

Turnovers For/Game

1.74

1.91

Willy

#4 Licata's Stats are all Earned in Garbage Time

Buffalo went down 20 for 4 minutes and 26 seconds against Penn State, down 18 to BGSU for 7 minutes and 32 seconds and down 19 for 6 minutes and 12 seconds. Outside of that 18 minutes and 10 seconds, UB has been ahead or within two scores of their opponent. So I don't think garbage time applies.

However we can look at first half stats as an indication of a good start and a QB that can dictate the game:

Category

Willy 2008

Licata 2015

Advantage

Comp %

61.21%

58.25%

Willy

Yard/Att

6.42

5.91

Willy

Att/TD

21.4

51.5

Willy

Att/INT

1374

51.5

Willy

Willy's numbers in the first half are better, but not spectacularly so. The 2008 Bulls trailed in half their games at the half.

#5 Licata Can't Win the Big Game

Drew Willy

Joe Licata

Year

Team

Wins

Losses

Year

Team

Wins

Losses

2008

Ball State

12

2

2013

Ohio

7

6

2007

Ohio

6

6

2014

Akron

5

7

2008

BGSU

6

6

2012

Miami

4

8

2007

Toledo

5

7

2012

WMU

4

8

2008

UTEP

5

7

2013

Kent State

4

8

2008

Temple

5

7

2013

Uconn

3

9

2008

Akron

5

7

2014

UMass

3

9

2007

Temple

4

8

2013

EMU

2

10

2007

Akron

4

8

2014

Miami

2

10

2008

Ohio

4

8

2012

Umass

1

11

2007

Kent State

3

9

2013

WMU

1

11

2008

Army

3

9

2013

UMass

1

11

2008

Miami

2

10

2015

FAU

1

3

2006

Temple

1

11

2013

Miami

0

12

65

105

38

123

38.24%

23.60%

Willy's opponents won 34% of their games and the Ball State game. Outside of Ball State Willy's best win was teams that finished 6-6. I feel like a win is a win. If we finish 8-4 this year, I'd be happier than if we started 5-0 with wins over Nevada, Penn State and Bowling Green, only to finish 5-7.

#6 Eye Test

Does the offense look good? No. What is the reason for that? I think it's a new system that needs 11 people to be on the page to work. Defense always develops a little quicker: you read the offense, you go where you're supposed to, and you react to the play. On offense, you have to be on rhythm from everything from the snap count to the blocking protections to the routes. To be able to trust the eye-test you'd need the all-22 film and to sit down with Lance Leipold to figure out what has broken down when the offense is going bad.

We haven't seen this offense play well against an FBS opponent. We don't know what it looks like when it's working. We can't identify and diagnose the problem at this time.

#7 Licata will not have Pro Potential

Who cares? There are a litany of championship winning QBs that didn't play at the next level. I never understand that question.

#8 Licata Lacks Arm Strength / Licata has no Touch / I've Never Seen Licata THIS Bad / Give Someone Else a Try

If you think he can't pass, remember he has thrown for 7,758 yards in his career. You're wrong.

As far as looking bad, if he continues on this path he will set a career record with 281 completions, and 2,981 yards. The real disappointment will be his TD-INT ratio, which was +16 and +18 in the past two years, but projected to be only +5 this year.

Licata was able to practice and observe in the Quinn system fore 15 months before playing and then he played in that system for 2.5 years. He threw TDs and avoided INTs with the best in the nation. This year he is struggling in those categories, usual TD passes are turning into INTs in the end zone. Again, it's so out of character and the only change is the system. Leipold has been here for 8 months. It's a new system and if Licata, the QB with all the game experience is struggling, a non-starter and the true freshman with the same amount of preparation time are going to look awful in it.

#9 Licata Lacks Mobility

He's a pocket passer. NEXT

#10 Licata Lacks the Will to Win

This is the hottest take. If Joe Licata lacked the will to win, he wouldn't play. He'd stay on the bench, he'd use his hip as an excuse to sit. No one goes through all the work and punishment to lose. Don't be the guy on the couch throwing this argument at an athlete getting bruised and broken trying to win every single play.