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Gridiron Report Card

Breaking down the seven overtime battle between Buffalo and Western Michigan

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Saturday was not Buffalo’s day. The Buffalo Bulls (3-5, 1-3 Mid-American Conference) fell 24-14 to the Miami (OH) RedHawks in a game where they never seemed to get in a groove. Buffalo had their second lowest yardage output of the season. The Bulls were on their third starting quarterback of the season and it was evident in how the offense played.

Here is The Spectrum’s position grades from Saturday’s game.

Quarterback: C

Kyle Vantrease made his first start Saturday in place of injured backup quarterback Drew Anderson. The true freshman struggled to find a rhythm and completed only 41 percent of his passes. Part of that had to do with too much passing. Buffalo went to the air 41 times in the game which is gonna make it tough for any quarterback making his first start.

Vantrease produced 202 yards and two touchdowns but he also had two turnovers in the game. But he only averaged 4.9 yards per attempt. His first touchdown to junior receiver Anthony Johnson was big and put them within three in the second quarter. His second was a little bit too late as it came with three minutes left when the Bulls were down by 17.

He was holding onto the ball a bit too long and gave up three sacks. A successful run game would have helped but his 32.1 QBR is a pretty solid indication of the inconsistencies.

Running backs: D+

Speaking of run game. Emmanuel Reed has really lost the rhythm he had after getting banged up against Western Michigan. Reed went three straight games with over 100 yards. He only has 111 combined rushing yards in the last three games- all Buffalo losses.

His success is what allowed Anderson to get acclimated to the game and was huge in all of Buffalo’s wins. His lack of success made it a lot harder for Vantrease to get adjusted to the game. While Buffalo was chasing most of the game his lack of success was part of what forced Buffalo to pass so often.

If he can get back to form, this team should start winning games again.

Wide receivers and tight ends: B-

Despite the issues at quarterback the pass catching unit had an alright game. Johnson had a down game and had his lowest yardage total for the season. But he still had a game-high five receptions and was able to bring in a touchdown for the day. Sophomore tight end Tyler Mabry also brought in the first touchdown of his career.

Senior receiver Kamathi Holsey led the Bulls in receiving for the first time this season. Holsey finished with three catches for 67 yards. In total, six different players caught a ball for Buffalo. It wasn’t their best game ever but they were able to create enough separation to give the young quarterback opportunity.

Offensive line: C+

The line has also fallen a bit out of rhythm in the last few weeks. They are just as much a part of the struggles in the run game. They just seem to have trouble creating holes for Reed, who generally has the vision to find a hole if it’s there.

Their pass blocking has been their strong suit but they have given up seven sacks in the last two games. Buffalo has now given up seven sacks in the last two games. Both opponents sent a lot of pressure but the line is gonna have to figure it out because as long as a freshman is starting opponents will keep employing that strategy.

Front seven: C

The run defense certainly didn’t have their worst game of the year but junior running back Kenny Young was able to consistently gash them for most of the day. Young finished with 125 yards on only 18 carries as well as two touchdowns. The RedHawks second running back, junior Alonzo Smith, also found the end zone in the game.

The front seven was not as effective in the pass game as normal and failed to register a sack or even a quarterback hurry.

Junior linebacker Khalil Hodge finished with 14 tackles. He now has double digit tackles in seven of eight games this season and is tied for first in the nation.

Secondary: B-

The secondary continues to be the strong suit for this defense as they held a team under 200 yards through the air for the fourth time this season. But freshman safety Kobe Green was the only player in the secondary to register a pass breakup on the day.

The biggest story of the game was the possible loss of junior cornerback Cameron Lewis. Lewis returned to the lineup three weeks ago after injury his right hand. He has been playing with a club like cast on that hand. He came down on that hand oddly Saturday and didn’t play the rest of the game.

Special teams: B-

Nothing good, nothing bad. Junior kicker Adam Mitcheson kicked two extra points in the game and converted both. Senior punter Kyle DeWeen punted six times in the game for a 37.0 yard average. But he had no pins inside the 20.

Coaching: B-

I thought the coaching staff was fine in this game. I thought the play calling was solid, though they should have passed a bit less. Unfortunately that’s hard to do when you’re down 10-0 before the end of the first quarter.

I think this loss falls more on execution by the players than on the coaching staff who were trying to work with a third quarterback.

Final team average: C

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


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