The Edge: Buffalo vs Colgate
Breaking down the Bulls home opener against Colgate
The Buffalo Bulls (0-2) have spent the last two weeks on the edge of victory. They came within 10 of a Big Ten opponent and the game against Army was up in the air until the final minutes. This week the Bulls have a chance to get things back on track when they open things at home against an FCS opponent, the Colgate Raiders (1-1). Buffalo will have to avoid last year’s pit fall when they lost to an FCS opponent in their season opener against Albany. The Bulls look like a different team from last year and they should come out with a win.
Here is The Spectrum’s breakdown of the matchup.
This game is a mismatch through and through, and it starts with the quarterbacks. Redshirt sophomore Tyree Jackson has stepped into his own this year and in the first half of the Army game he looked fantastic. This game should give him the opportunity to work through the offense more and I see him dominating the FCS secondary.
Running backs: Colgate
This is one of the only matchups that Colgate has the advantage. UB’s leading rusher is junior Johnathan Hawkins, and he has 62 yards in two games while sophomore Emmanuel Reed has been the second rushing option and has 13 yards. Neither one has scored this season.
Colgate has two rushers who have crossed the century mark for the season. They have also combined for three touchdowns. They were playing FCS opponents but both opponents were ranked. Buffalo should and can win this matchup but the running backs have yet to deliver.
Wide receivers: Buffalo
Anthony Johnson. Period.
Offensive line: Buffalo
They haven’t played up to their potential quite yet in the run game, but the offensive line has looked good in pass blocking. They have given Jackson time in the pocket so that receivers have been able to get open for big plays. It was clear last season that the Bulls want the long ball and with the offensive line setting the pocket it’s starting to come to fruition.
The line needs to open up holes in the run game; but they have been able to get Jackson yards on the ground so far, so it might be on the running backs.
Defensive line: Buffalo
The front seven for Buffalo has been having a great year and have looked vastly improved from last year. Senior Chris Ford and junior Justin Brandon have been great in the interior of the line and have clogged things up in the middle which has had noticeable impact on the linebackers being able to get to the ball.
The Bulls currently have two players ranked in the top 10 in the nation in tackles per game. Junior Khalil Hodge and senior Jarrett Franklin are averaging 15.5 and 11.5 tackles per game respectively. Hodge leads the nation.
They look like a completely different unit than the abysmal run defense that occupied Western New York a year ago. This should continue against an outmatched opponent.
Defensive backs: Buffalo
The secondary has looked great this season. Junior cornerback Cameron Lewis has established himself as a shutdown corner and come up with some big plays in both games so far. Junior Tatum Slack has two pass breakups of his own.
Senior safety Tim Roberts is leading the secondary with 17 tackles and a tackle for loss. They should be able to dominate Colgate who had to deal with an injury to their starting quarterback last season.
Special teams: Colgate
Junior Adam Mitcheson has been an issue for the Bulls in his career. He’s a 63 percent field goal kicker and is one-for-three this season. Colgate’s sophomore Chris Puzzi is 3-of-3 in his career and an opponent doesn’t matter much when it comes to how far and how accurate you’re kicking.
It’s been a slow process but Lance Leipold and his coaching staff are starting to finally get things where they want in Buffalo. Their offense isn’t perfect but the addition of an elite receiver like Johnson has opened things up and the team is starting to click.
If the run game gets sorted out this is a team that could put up big numbers against anyone, especially an FCS opponent.
Daniel Petruccelli is the Co-Senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org