Dysert Dissects Bulls
Bulls still searching for answers late in the season after rout
The Bulls’ offense struggled to find the end zone on Saturday en route to a 41-13 defeat at the hands of the RedHawks. Meg Kinsley /// The Spectrum
The Bulls entered Saturday's game with momentum and confidence. Senior quarterback Chazz Anderson was coming off a record-breaking performance and sophomore running back Branden Oliver looked ready to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark on the season.
These numbers proved to be superficial – the Bulls (2-7, 1-4 Mid-American Conference) are still struggling, and they may have just hit rock bottom.
Buffalo traveled to face Miami (Ohio) (3-5, 2-2 MAC) in the RedHawks' 98th homecoming game. The trip gradually became a nightmare for the Bulls, as they couldn't find a way to stop the defending MAC champions' aerial attack. They were thrashed, 41-13.
The RedHawks have not played like title contenders this year. Miami entered the game a loss away from matching the Bulls' record, coming off of a crushing defeat at the hands of Toledo.
However, Miami made it clear that its squad was still far superior to Buffalo's. The Bulls' embarrassing loss to the RedHawks marks their eighth consecutive road loss.
Head coach Jeff Quinn expressed how aggravated he was with his team's poor play. He has yet to win a road game with the Bulls in his two seasons as head coach.
"I'm sick and tired of losing," Quinn said. "I care about this team and I love them. It's just one of those things where you're just going to have to fight through [the struggles]. I'm not going to quit and nobody in that room is going to quit. We'll figure it out."
Miami quarterback Zac Dysert quickly imposed his will on the Bulls. On the second play from scrimmage, Dysert made Buffalo pay for its lackluster coverage and connected with wide receiver Dawan Scott for a 71-yard touchdown.
"It was clearly a miscommunication," said senior safety Josh Copeland.
Dysert tossed touchdowns in the red zone on the next two drives and remained sharp throughout the game. Buffalo held Miami's top receiver, Nick Harwell, to a modest game – he finished with six receptions for 40 yards. But Dysert had no trouble finding other receiving options, and finished the game with 313 yards and a career-high five touchdowns. While picking apart the Bulls, he became the 21st quarterback in MAC history to throw for 7,000 yards.
At first, it appeared the game would be an offensive battle, as Anderson was quick to respond to Miami's first touchdown. He successfully completed a bomb to sophomore wide receiver Alex Neutz for a 60-yard touchdown, the longest catch of Neutz's career.
Anderson ran it in himself from 1-yard out on the very next drive, but that would be the Bulls' last offensive highlight. Senior kicker Peter Fardon missed the extra point, and Buffalo couldn't put together another scoring drive for the rest of the day.
The Bulls' next opportunity to score came when the game was well out of reach in the fourth quarter. Senior safety Isaac Baugh returned a fumble caused by freshman defensive lineman Kristjan Sokoli to the RedHawks' 1-yard-line. Buffalo had four shots to score from the goal line, but failed to get into the end zone, much to Quinn's frustration.
"We were on the freakin' 1-yard line, and we can't get the damn ball [in]," Quinn said.
Baugh believes that Buffalo's failure to score on that drive was a symbol of the team's struggles throughout the game.
"It was just hard that we weren't able to capitalize on anything – the offense, special teams, or defense," Baugh said. "We've got a great offense…special teams, and defense. It's hard because you know about the potential of all three phases of the game, and when you don't execute, it's not just hard for us to watch the offense, but it's hard for the offense to watch us."
Neutz, who finished the game with four receptions and 110 yards, left the game at halftime because of a fractured wrist. The team looked to Oliver for help, but the running back couldn't deliver.
Oliver had his worst game of the season against Miami. The sophomore couldn't find any holes in the RedHawks' front seven and ran for a season-low 47 yards.
Oliver's struggles also led to points on the board for Miami. RedHawks' defensive end Jason Semmes stripped the ball from the running back after he caught a short pass. Miami recovered, and scored on the ensuing possession for the final points of the game.
Quinn believes that Buffalo's poor day on the ground goes beyond X's and O's.
"It's an attitude," Quinn said. "You have to have the right attitude every single Saturday…They ran gap plays [and] zone plays just like we did. The difference is that they out-executed us with more determination, and it's disappointing."
The Bulls hope to regroup during their upcoming bye week. Quinn believes this is by no means an off week, as Buffalo will need to refocus on its final three games of the season.
Buffalo will play its next game on the road against Eastern Michigan on Nov. 12. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.
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