Deep into this game, I was considering scrapping the "Good" and "Bad" headings altogether and simply listing everything I had to say under "Ugly."
But you have to be pleased with the defense, which used timely big plays to give up yards and few points in the first half and little of anything in the second. Singlehandedly Brian Borland's defense won this game, scoring 23 points and gift-wrapping a few more for the offense.
Big Play Defense. Let me make sure I credit everyone by name. Travis Pitzonka (60, TD), Ryan Williamson (34), and Brandon Crawford (11, TD) all had big returns of fumbles forced by Brandon Berry, Max Perisse, and Okezie Alozie, respectively. Boise Ross a 39-yard pick six, and Williamson an interception on the goal line. I think Perisse had the tackle on the safety. Pitzonka (.5) and Alozie (1.5) combined for a pair of big third down sacks. Berry with three tackles in the first half, and a huge pass break up on 3rd or 4th and one.
Two offensive drives. A late third-quarter drive to extend the lead to 26-9 was built on a long pass to Malcolm Robinson and a 19-yard touchdown run from Jordan Johnson. When FAU closed to 26-15, UB used a steady dose of runs to burn 8:37 on 14 plays.
Cameron Lewis. His work to down a Tyler Grassman punt at the half-yard line earned UB two more points a play later, and Grassman-to-Lewis-to-Defensive Line was about as productive an offensive strategy as we saw all day.
Offensive playcalling. The small success in the second half, when UB, not FAU, was the team taking advantage of fatigue in the Florida heat, bumps this out of 'Ugly.' Buffalo got a field goal out of Williamson's fumble return, but they did so by running three times to the same gap. The first play of the game was tremendous, a little rollout and short pass to McGill in space, but otherwise it felt like UB couldn't find any rhythm at all. The Bulls had only one drive last longer than five plays.
First half defense overall. Two of the big plays above came in the first half along with two fourth down stops, but FAU moved easily up and down the field, racking up 300 yards. UB looked slow and sluggish in the trenches, but always did just enough to keep the Bulls in range.
Penalties. Eight for 75 yards doesn't feel as awful as last week, but a few were backbreakers. A hold that negated a strong Anthone Taylor run, two roughing the passer penalties, and a personal foul on a late hit. No cut blocks this week, but still too many.
Licata in the first half. He didn't have a good game overall, finishing without a touchdown pass for just the third time in this career, but the first half was really awful. I thought FAU's safety came after the senior got happy feet and moved himself into pressure, and then of course he didn't throw the ball downfield enough. The interception was moments away from a coverage sack, but Joe threw too late to his crossing receiver and the route got jumped.
The rest of the offense. Two drives in the second half were all the offense has to go for it. I was surprised at the end of the game to see how many yards Taylor and Johnson racked up, because as I said above, UB had nothing that resembled a sustained drive all day other than one that ended in no points. 3-17 on third down almost earns its own bullet point, but not quite.
Adam Mitcheson missed a kick.
The announcers. We stopped paying attention to this once we had bigger issues, but there were spelling mistakes on graphics, misidentified head coaches, mispronunciations, and more. It was already a pain to find the American Sports "Network," and once we did we got a subpar delivery to say the least.