Johnson shines, backup quarterbacks struggle in Blue-White game
Freshman running back Jordon Johnson carries the ball in the Blue-White spring game on Saturday. Johnson had 114 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. Yusong Shi, The Spectrum
The football team got a look at three of its quarterbacks Saturday, but if everything goes according to the Bulls' plan, none of them will see the field in the fall. Buffalo did get a good look at a player who could see major playing time in the backfield this season: freshman running back Jordon Johnson.
Johnson ran for 114 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries in the annual Blue-White spring game Saturday at UB Stadium. The Blue team defeated the White team 20-8.
With sophomore quarterback Joe Licata sitting out the game as he recovers from hip surgery, sophomore quarterback Tony Daniel led the White team, while freshman quarterbacks Collin Michael and Craig Slowick split reps for the Blue team before Michael switched over to the White team in the fourth quarter.
"That Blue defense looked really good today," said head coach Jeff Quinn. "So that was the No. 1 defense. The White offense, we were a little inconsistent at times, but I was pleased over all by the way our kids handled themselves."
Johnson showed off his explosiveness Saturday, particularly on his second touchdown when he ran right up the middle for 43 yards and put the Blue team up 17-5 near the end of the third quarter.
"He's always top notch," Daniel said. "He's really going to help us out this year. He's going to be a great asset. Each of our scrimmages, he's had runs like that. We're going to find ways to get him into the offense ... He showed it again today what he can do to make a play and come out here and change the game for us."
The passing game was an emphasis for Quinn, as there were 78 pass plays compared to just 41 running plays. Quinn said the team wanted to see the timing of its quarterbacks and wide receivers in game-like situations and test its defensive coverage schemes.
Despite the emphasis on the passing games, all three quarterbacks struggled Saturday, as none of them threw a touchdown or completed more than 50 percent of their passes. Daniel threw for 163 yards and an interception on 13 of 26 passing. Michael went 16 of 32 for 175 yards and Slowick completed just 2 of 11 passes for 35 yards.
"It's spring ball, we're still working on our stuff," Daniel said. "We saw some new stuff from the defense that we haven't seen the whole spring. They're pressing our receivers, a little tighter windows to throw in. We struggled a little bit today, but over all I think it was a pretty good day."
The Blue team looked like the better offense throughout. With 2:42 left in the first quarter, Johnson started off the game's scoring with his first touchdown run of the day. Johnson ran up the middle, bounced off the pile and ran to the outside to the left corner of the end zone for a 10-yard score. A 42-yard pass from Michael to freshman wide receiver Jacob Martinez set up the score.
The White offense responded on the next drive as Daniel completed passes of 27 and 34 yards to wide receivers junior Devon Hughes and sophomore Marcus McGill, respectively, to set up a field goal by junior Patrick Clarke.
Freshman linebacker Xavier Davis sacked Slowick in the end zone for a safety for the White team. A punt by sophomore punter Tyler Grassman that landed on the 1-yard line set up the play.
Daniel had an opportunity to give the White team the lead going into halftime but was intercepted in the red zone after his pass deflected off several Blue team defenders and into the arms of freshman linebacker Brandon Crawford. The Blue team led 7-5 at halftime.
After Clarke made a field goal for the Blue team into the win in the third quarter, Johnson scored his second touchdown a few possessions later. Both teams would then trade field goals to close the game.
Though the Bulls faced off against their teammates, the game was physical with several big hits, including one by junior safety Adam Redden on sophomore running back Anthone Taylor in the backfield.
Taylor rushed for 42 yards on 15 carries and was tied for the game-high in catches (four) with sophomore tight end Matt Weiser. Martinez led all players with 56 receiving yards on two catches, while McGill had three catches for 55 yards.
"We all know what we got to do," Johnson said. "We got to get better this summer and come August we got to prepare for those couple of weeks and then go out there and play Duquesne."
The Bulls' first game of the season will be against Duquesne on Aug. 30 at UB Stadium.
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