This post needs little explanation.
Joe Licata came out and looked sharp against the Great Danes, completing 77 percent of his passes for 246 yards and 2 touchdowns. Licata made smart decisions throughout the game, and took advantage of the "married" plays that are a staple of the Leipold offense to lead UB on multiple touchdown drives. Licata also showed off a nifty scrambling ability, picking up a first down on a 9 yard scamper early in the first quarter, although I'm sure Coach Leipold would prefer Joe not run if he can help it.
Licata was also impressive spreading the ball around to his playmakers, and showing off a range of short, medium, and deep passes that will keep defenses on their toes. With his two touchdowns, Joe also became the UB career leader in total touchdowns scored in a career. Back-up QB Tony Daniel also scored a rushing touchdown on a QB sneak late in the game after taking over for Licata in the 3rd quarter.
Running Backs: A+
Anthone Taylor and Jordan Johnson proved to be the solid 1-2 punch that everyone expected them to be at the running back position. Taylor showed off his vision and violent running style, gashing the UAlbany defense for 104 yards on 17 carries with 2 touchdowns. This was Taylor's 10th career 100 yard rushing effort. Backup Jordan Johnson also rushed for over 6 yards per carry, picking up 69 yards on 11 carries and scoring a touchdown as well. Johnson also caught an 11 yard pass from Licata showing off a receiving ability as a safety valve out of the backfield.
When the game was well out of hand true freshman Johnathan Hawkins also saw the field, and had a few impressive runs of his own, showing vision and power that the SEC schools that were recruiting him were clamoring over. Hawkins finished with 37 yards on 10 carries. You can't ask for much more when the team runs for over 200 yards.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: A
The tight ends were the real story for the Bulls, as Mason Schreck and Matt Weiser combined for 9 receptions and 83 yards. Schreck set a new career high in receptions, and could have scored twice, if not for being tackled at the goal line after catching tough passes in traffic from Licata. Jacob Martinez and Marcus McGill each caught touchdown passes from Licata; while Collin Lisa, the UAB transfer lived up to the hype surrounding him, catching a beautiful 46 yard bomb from Licata to set up another UB touchdown. Lisa finished with 3 receptions for 56 yards. Ron Willoughby also caught 3 passes for 60 yards. There was no 100 yard receiver in the game, but there didn't need to be because the ball was distributed so evenly, and the Bulls didn't need to pass the ball for much of the second half.
Offensive Line: B+
The three new starters along the offense fared well in their first game action together as a unit, keeping Joe Licata's jersey clean for the entire time he was in the game, and paving the way for Anthone Taylor and Jordan Johnson to each average over 6 yards per carry. However, where the line fell flat were a few miscues that cannot happen later on in the season. James O'Hagan, the redshirt freshman center, had a botched snap that went sailing over Joe Licata's head and was luckily recovered by UB. However, mistakes like that can cost games. Other than the few miscues the line played well.
Defensive Line: B+
The other new look trench will be a focal point for the defense this season, and the defensive line played well during their first outing as well. In run defense, while the starteres held the Albany offense to just over 2 yards per carry on the ground, which is a big positive and a nice first step. However, what knocks the grade down was the lack of tackles for loss and sacks against an undersized Albany offensive line. The only sack produced by the defensive line was late in the game when backups Randy Anyanwu and Chris Ford split a sack. I'd like to see the starters get some sacks, otherwise they played well in their first outing.
A group that was down a starter and with a regular was limited due to injury, the linebackers stepped up when it counted most. Late in the first half Nick Gilbo dropped back into coverage and picked off a UAlbany pass to halt a drive in its track and to knock any momentum that they had began to build right out of them. Then, later in the game, Okezie Alozie had a beautiful strip sack after blitzing off the blind side. The linebackers played well, like most of the other position groups. Not too much to harp on.
Defensive Backs: A
What was once a weakness for the Bulls last season has suddenly become a strength of the young Bulls squad. The backfield was down a starter in Andrews Dadeboe who suffered an injury late in camp and was replaced by true freshman Brandon Stanback, who more than held his own in the starting role, he even recovered a CJ Stancil fumble in the second half. Corners Boise Ross and Marqus Baker held tight in coverage, minus the first drive that Albany had. Ross also snagged a diving interception, after dropping an easy INT earlier in the game. Outside of the first drive, there's not much to complain about.
Special Teams: A-
Adam Mitcheson drilled his field goal attempt, Tyler Grassman was solid as usual, and Jacob Martinez returned a punt for a touchdown. Pretty solid. Only thing that gets this knocked down is the blocking on XP and FG attempts. One XP was blocked later in the game due to poor blocking, and on the field goal attempt Albany had more penetration than I would have liked to have seen. But, its nothing that can't be polished in practice.
Lance Leipold and company showed off a variety of plays and formations on offense, something that Bulls fans aren't used to at all. The variety helped the offense keep the Albany defense on its heels the entire game and allowed for several big plays to either score, or set up for scores. Defensively the playcalling was good as well, I think the 4-3 base scheme was a rousing success over Tepperball. Leipold was also gutsy and trusted his players on 4th day twice, and twice the UB offense converted. Leipold trusts his players and it paid off. The playcalling was excellent, and has been a nice change of pace from years past.
So that was a pretty nice, wasn't it? I hope every week I can give out grades like this.