UB Bulls vs. Florida Atlantic: Who has the edge?
The Buffalo football team should be proud of its performance last weekend.
The Bulls (1-0) played perhaps their hardest opponent all season and did so with style, holding the Nittany Lions to just 13 points until the fourth quarter.
Of course, there were issues, but overall, it was a successful game. The question now is will the personnel repeat its successful ways against a comparable opponent in Florida Atlantic (0-2) this Saturday on the road?
The Spectrum decided which team has the edge at each position.
It doesn’t matter who starts for Florida Atlantic at quarterback. Whether it’s the elusive Jacquez Johnson or the strong-armed Jason Driskel, Bulls senior quarterback Joe Licata is better than both of them.
Licata showed great poise in the pocket during a rainy, sloppy game last week and still managed to throw for more than 200 yards and two touchdowns. He has looked locked in this season and there’s no sign of him slowing down.
Running backs: Florida Atlantic
It’s hard to pick against Buffalo’s senior Anthone Taylor. But this position is a team effort, which is what Florida Atlantic preaches.
The Owls possess two running backs that have already gained around 200 rushing yards in sophomore Greg Howell and junior Jay Warren. Their quarterback, Johnson, has more than 100 rushing yards. Taylor is the most talented rusher in this game, but he cannot hold down the position alone. Junior Jordan Johnson is coming off a down week where he averaged less than two yards per carry.
The Spectrum is going with the platoon over the star.
Wide receivers and tight ends: Buffalo
Each team has one clear standout wide receiver, so it’s easier to judge talent based on the depth. The Owl’s top receiver, Jenson Stoshak, has accumulated 10 catches for 150 yards and a touchdown this year and is the clear-cut favorite to receive most of the receptions against Buffalo.
After Buffalo senior Ron Willoughby, the Bulls possess quick talent in the slot in Collin Lisa and Jacob Martinez, as well as red-zone-threat Marcus McGill.
And let’s not forget Licata’s best friends on the field: the tight end. After a down week by the position, senior Matt Weiser and junior Mason Schreck can regain their first-week glory and become important pieces in the passing game.
Offensive line: Florida Atlantic
This may be the biggest mismatch of the game.
The Owls’ line is nothing to be that impressed with, but its an upgrade from what the Bulls have. Florida Atlantic allowed four sacks through their first two games. Buffalo has allowed six – with all six coming against Penn State – and accumulated a plethora of mental penalties, 10 to be exact from last week alone.
The Buffalo O-line is shaping up to be the Bulls’ offenses’ biggest problem moving forward. The young unit will eventually get there, but not this week.
Defensive line: Buffalo
Again, it’s hard to judge Buffalo’s game against the Nittany Lions last week, but this unit didn’t even come close to hitting Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg.
The Owls don’t exactly have an impressive track record this season either. They’ve allowed more than 450 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns – not a good stat on any level. Florida Atlantic will have trouble dealing with Taylor, who The Spectrum expects to have a tremendous day.
The emergence of Buffalo’s Okezie Alozie, Nick Gilbo and Brandon Berry has been a nice surprise after the departure of Lee Skinner and the injury to Jarrett Franklin. Alozie currently leads the team with 14 tackles and a sack and Gilbo had one of the most impressive days on the Buffalo ‘D’ last week.
Florida Atlantic’s linebackers are elusive and accumulate tackles, but they don’t seem to be as big of threats than what Buffalo faced last week at Penn State or ‘Linebacker U.’ The Bulls’ unit will only get better with time, beginning with this week.
Neither team shines in this category, but one team has given up more than 700 passing yards. One team has only given up 256.
The Owls’ secondary is the former and has averaged more than 350 passing yards allowed per game. Buffalo’s secondary has surprised many and even held a future NFL quarterback to less than 200 passing yards last week. Sophomore cornerback Boise Ross’ play as of late has been a comforting sign for a rebuilding secondary and a rotation of young talent. Safeties Ryan Williamson and Andrews Dadeboe have helped this unit as well.
Licata will have a field day on the Owl’s secondary.
Head coach Lance Leipold made some questionable decisions last week, including to run the ball three times within the Penn State 30-yard line and a draw play on third-and-long. But overall, Leipold’s adjustment to Division I has been painless.
This will be the first week where Buffalo will not play an outlier. Albany is a Football Championship Subdivision team and Penn State is a Power 5 team. Florida Atlantic will be the Bulls’ first opportunity to play a comparable opponent. Leipold is ready for the task.