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Gridiron Report Card: Breaking down the Bulls 34-31 win over FAU

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The Buffalo Bulls (2-2) had a fantastic showing Saturday night as they got on their first winning streak in almost two years. New head coach Lane Kiffin and his Florida Atlantic Owls (1-3) came in with some hype but Buffalo was ready for them. The Bulls jumped out to a 14-0 lead. The Owls rallied back and the had things tied at half but the Bulls never trailed in the game.

Here is The Spectrum’s position grades for the game.

Quarterbacks: A+

Redshirt sophomore Tyree Jackson’s injury was the story of the game. He was having a great game prior. He had 145 total yards and two touchdowns.

It could have been demoralizing, but Junior Drew Anderson did a fantastic job filling in under center. He completed his first six passes and finished 7-of-9. When he stepped in the game was tied but he extended the lead to 10 points on two separate occasions. Anderson had great clock control once the Bulls secured a lead and finished the game with an 89.8 QBR. He put the exclamation point on the game with a 20-yard touchdown pass to redshirt junior receiver Anthony Johnson.

Running back: A

The running backs have been on a streak the last two weeks. They have 349 yards over the last two games after combining for less than 100 yards over the first two games.

Emmanuel Reed has been the breakout star over the last two games and had performances of 120 yards and 107 yards plus a touchdown. Reed got his first start Saturday and didn't disappoint as he kept the ball moving. Redshirt freshman Theo Anderson got his first substantial action and had 57 yards and a score in the game.

Wide receiver: A+

This was the best game of the season for this unit. Six different receivers caught a ball in the game, with five catching more than one ball. For the fourth straight week, Anthony Johnson led the way for the receivers with six catches for 87 yards and a score. The Bulls were able to find a lot of space against an athletic secondary. Their route running looked great and everyone was involved.

Tight end: B-

Sophomore Tyler Mabry looked the best he has all year. He had a huge 58 yard catch last week but looked more active in this one. He had two catches for 39 yards and seemed to be able to be involved in the blocking for a lot of short pass plays.

Offensive line: A

This line is really coming together at the right time. They had their set of struggles in run blocking for the first two weeks but things have started to come together in the last two games. They bullied Colgate’s defensive line but that was an FCS opponent. Now against another FBS opponent they were still successful. The team ran for over 200 yards and gave whoever was in at quarterback enough time to throw the ball.

Defensive line: B

The line struggled a little bit with the run in the game but eventually got things figured out. Sophomore running back Devin Singletary finished with 156 yards but a majority of them came in the first half. They could have had more success against the run but FAU runs with a relentless pace and they kept up with them all game.

Linebackers: B+

The linebackers were just as responsible for the struggles against the rush as the defensive line. But just like the defensive line, they clearly figured it out by the second half and kept pace with the Owls.

Junior Khalil Hodge had his third double digit tackle game of the season. He is currently tied for second in the nation in tackles. He proves week after week that he is one of the best linebackers on any mid-major team.

Defensive backs: A

The secondary has been excellent in coverage all year. Even with junior cornerback Cameron Lewis not playing they stopped the Owls from getting anything moving through the air.

Junior cornerback Tatum Slack dominated with three pass breakups. In the last two games he has had plays read before the throw even occurred. Senior Ryan Williamson came up with an interception on the first possession of the game for the Owls that helped the Bulls jump to a two score lead.

Special teams: B+

Junior kicker Adam Mitcheson had a great game and made all six of his kicks. They did allow a 28-yard punt return that gave FAU good field possession but otherwise a pretty successful night for special teams.

Coaching: A

Head coach Lance Leipold and staff were impressive in this one. FAU came in with a highly touted coaching staff with plenty of power-five experience. But Lane Kiffin and his national championship offense wasn't able to get the job done against Buffalo. Defensive coordinator Brian Borland made some great second half adjustments and the improvement was evident. Leipold has now started the second win streak of his Buffalo tenure and heading into MAC play he could make it three straight.

Daniel Petruccelli is the Co-Senior sports editor and can be reached at daniel.petruccelli@ubspectrum.com


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