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Gridiron report card: UB Bulls fall to Penn State 27-14

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Quarterback: B+

Joe Licata did everything you’d want in your senior quarterback except pull out the victory.

He was poised in the pocket, didn’t get distracted by the wild Penn State crowd and even outplayed future NFL quarterback Christian Hackenberg. His best throw on the day was his second touchdown pass to Marcus McGill, which fell perfectly into his hands at the corner of the endzone.

But, he didn’t get the win. And that was the only thing stopping him from getting an ‘A.’

Running backs: B

Buffalo knew the extent of what Penn State’s defensive line could do all week. And it proved to be so.

Nonetheless, senior Anthone Taylor pulled out an impressive game by running for 93 yards on 18 carries and punched his ticket into the Buffalo record books as one of three backs to run for 2,000 in a career.

But the grade is because of Taylor’s counterpart, sophomore Jordan Johnson. He couldn’t find many holes and wasn’t elusive enough to make a difference. His nine rushes for 23 yards is a problem.

Wide receivers and tight ends: B+

Nine different receivers caught a pass on Saturday as senior Ron Willoughby quietly caught eight passes for 80 yards to lead Buffalo and Penn State in both categories.

Willoughby and senior Marcus McGill each caught a touchdown pass and combined for more than half of the teams’ receptions.

Tight ends Matt Weiser and Mason Schreck, who each had big weeks against Albany, only combined for three catches and 20 yards as the Nittany Lions secondary took care of pass coverage for them.

Offensive line: D

Allowing seven sacks on your quarterback is never a good way to get on your coach’s good side.

After an impressive outing last week, the young offensive line was exposed – as many people thought it would be after three starters graduated. The Penn State front seven had a day against a young Buffalo O-Line.

The only reason the unit didn’t fail was because the strength of the opponent. Penn State features two interior defensive linemen this year in Austin Johnson and Anthony Zettel that will eventually make their way to the NFL.

Defensive line: C

The line allowed 200 yards rushing and didn’t sack Penn State quarterback Christina Hackenberg – who got sacked 10 times against Temple last week – but its grade is a ‘C’ because it disrupted the line a few times early in the game.

Linebackers: D

The linebackers really didn’t stand out in this game.

They were part of the reason Buffalo allowed 200 rushing yards. Too often they allowed the Nittany Lions to beat them around the edge, including on a few end-arounds. They also didn’t generate any play making ability like interceptions, sacks or fumbles – despite the wet conditions.

Secondary: A-

Outside of a big 38-yard pass from Hackenberg to Chris Godwin, the longest completion the secondary gave up was 11 yards.

That’s great for any secondary – let along this young, inexperienced one. There is a caveat though. Sophomore safety Ryan Williamson gave up what should have been a long touchdown to tight end Mike Gesicki, but the Penn State sophomore dropped it. But by giving up just 128 passing yards to a potential first-round draft pick, the secondary should be proud of itself.

Coaching: B

Lance Leipold has his seventh career loss. It’s also his first one since October 2012.

Obviously this was expected with his Buffalo team taking on Penn State in Happy Valley, but Leipold gets just a ‘B’ because of some questionable play calling. The Bulls decided to kick a 47-yard field goal in the rain on one of their first drives instead of going for it – which would have been nice to see for the underdog. The Bulls were also questionably conservative on third down at times.

Leipold gets major points for his team playing relatively well in the most hostile environment this team will play in all season though. Buffalo definitely didn’t look intimidated.

Tom Dinki is the Editor in Chief and Jordan Grossman is the senior sports editor. Questions and comments can be directed to sports@ubspectrum.com.


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