After having two weeks to prepare for their game with Nevada, the Buffalo Bulls are now 0-2 following a 38-14 rout. Because of this awful game, for the second straight game this post will not don the usual title of "Good, Bad, and Ugly". Anyway, let's get into what happened yesterday:
The slightly good
When a special teams player is performing well I really try to give them as much credit as possible. DeWeen had a strong night punting the ball with an average of 42.7 yards and pinning the Nevada offense within the 20 yard line twice. It's very nice that we have a reliable punter replacing Tyler Grassman this year and because of that, MVP accolades go to the punter this week.
The rushing game (when we used it)-
I feel it's a bit criminal to call the rushing game "slightly good" but there were still faults to it (I'm looking at you draw play up the middle). Jordan Johnson showed once again why UB should continue to establish a strong rushing attack throughout the game considering he brought in 87 yards and a touchdown.
Johnson isn't the only ray of light in this department though. Johnathan Hawkins showed the fandom that he too is an incredibly capable rusher in the small number of attempts that he had. Hawkins brought in 53 yards despite having only 9 attempts to do so. Add in the massive dual-threat of Tyree Jackson and you'd be crazy to not take advantage of all of this.
The three players mentioned above all had over 5 yards per carry and Jackson was almost at 11.
The failure to involve more receivers-
This point isn't to make a case against the bad play calling (just keep reading for that). Anyway, just take a look at this:
Look at the number of people Nevada got passes off to compared Buffalo. Many will shout that the run game gets abandoned but do we really have a passing game when only running backs and tight ends get involved? Two wide-outs by the name of Marcus McGill and Kamathi Holsey didn't receive a catch in this game.
Last game I mistakenly said that McGill didn't receive a catch. That is wrong and I recant that statement. I bring this error up because that is how little his presence is in an offense that could really use a guy with hands as good as his. I'm also a big fan of what Kamathi Holsey can do since he's much faster and not using either of these guys to their strengths is illogical.
The same problems from last year are plaguing the hyped up cornerback. Sure, the defensive back has the prowess to break up passes with ease — in which he recorded two in this edition of UB Football — but he continues to have problems tackling players. If this continues, Buffalo will continue to get burned by screen passes and wide runs on Boise's side.
Some of the awful monstrosities this game had to offer
The rush defense-
I just can't make any sense of this whatsoever. Buffalo returns an incredible defensive line this year, runs a 4-3 defensive scheme, and also returns an almost carbon copy of their personnel from the last season but is getting destroyed in the running game. Nevada brought in 352 rushing yards as James Butler kept breaking through the line with ease. I don't think the mistakes made are the player's faults (mostly), I think this is all on Brian Borland.
Andy Kotelnicki's play calling-
I've been beating this dead horse for so long and so hard that there's a ten-foot crater in the ground. Kotelnicki's use of Tyree Jackson in this game just doesn't sit well with me. I will give Kotelnicki credit, there was a lot more use of the run game and I appreciate it. But, there's a problem with how the running game was used. Time after time again, we'd see the most predictable play this offense offers: the draw play up the middle. Buffalo's first two drives versus Albany opened with this exact play and it made plenty of appearances in this game.
The draw play isn't my gripe with the philosophy though. My biggest problem is the failure to recognize that Tyree doesn't quite have the accuracy yet for the deep ball — he does however have the strong arm for it — and that there was a refusal to draw up short and intermediate routes that could get guys like Holsey, McGill, and the strong tight end unit that Buffalo has.
Yes, we know that Tyree is the future of the program and he'll definitely be able to develop that deep ball but we need to cater to what his strengths are now while he continues to develop. Jackson looked amazing in short passes during spring training and I think a strong short pass attack coupled with this team's powerful rushing ability could be something to make opponents scared of.
The lack of energy-
This is all on the coaching staff and this is my short rant to you:
I've met many of these players and a large chunk of them have the personalities to easily get fired up. This is a fun and rambunctious bunch you have got here (probably the second best team at UB in that regard). I am speechless to the fact that these guys come out to every game and look like shells of what what they could be. Last season you played UMass and failed to make bowl eligibility not only because your level of play was decrepit, but the energy of your team was lackadaisical.
A team having one more shot at bowl eligibility before their season over should be jumping up and down with energy ready to put in work. That's not what I saw on that cold November night and the fact UMass had boat loads more energy is the reason why I left at halftime.
Someone needs to keep this team fired up. It doesn't need to be someone on the coaching staff but there needs to be a person that takes on that role. A team with a positive energy flowing through their veins will win a lot more games than a team with a "frustrated Johnathan Hawkins muttering expletives under his breath" on the sidelines.
This is the second straight game I'm putting you here, coach. All of the above problems are enough to where I don't have to explain anymore. I'm not trying put pressure on you but your name is actually here because performances like these really degrade the capabilities of Division-III coaches in the eyes of many. I know that there are D-III coaches out there who could handle a D-I head coaching job in their futures but when a six-time national champion coach falters, it's going to hurt the Vince Kehres and the Dan MacNeill's of the football world. This especially rings true since Wisconsin-Whitewater has a 14-2 record since you left.
I do believe that football is indeed football, but that is slowly changing in many peoples minds.