Bo O., this offense is magic, you know
Published: Sunday, September 9, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 19:11
Just a home win over an FCS school, a team you’re supposed to beat handily. We’re talking about the second week of the season, anyway. Not buying in. Nuh uh.
That was last year, a sad offense that couldn’t get the job done.
Take it from a skeptic: this 2012 UB (1-1) football team – the team that won 56-34 over Morgan State (1-1) in front of a blued-out UB Stadium on Saturday evening – is one to watch. Defense may win championships, but offense wins fans – something the Bulls desperately need.
Nobody came to games last year, and frankly I couldn’t blame fans. Who wants to watch a 3-9 team that consistently underperforms?
This year, though, things are different. The squad’s offense is one of the most electrifying in the nation.
A trio of juniors is lighting up scoreboards and stat sheets. Mr. Reliable, Branden “Bo” Oliver, is second in the country in rushing yards (and first in the Mid-American Conference) with 349. Wide receiver Alex Neutz, who may have had glue surgically implanted in his hands this summer, leads the country in receiving touchdowns with five. The most surprising of the bunch is a Tim Tebow clone: quarterback Alex Zordich, who won a position battle with redshirt freshman Joe Licata this summer. Zordich has the top passer rating in the MAC (170.8), which is good for 16th in the nation. (All stats according to ubbullrun.com.)
In Saturday’s game, Buffalo racked up 571 yards of total offense on 19:50 of possession (that’s less than half the time Morgan State had the ball).
If that’s not reason enough to get to a game, the Bulls scored 56 points – fifty-six! – which marks a school Division I record, even though they slowed it all the way down and mercifully let up in the fourth quarter. Before the fourth, Buffalo put up quarters of 14, 21, 21, respectively.
I know some people out there are saying, “I’ve seen this before.” Last year, the Bulls opened their schedule by playing a big-time school (Pittsburgh) tough on the road. Then they put a hurting on an FCS school (Stony Brook) at home. It seems to be déjà vu in 2012 (Buffalo played surprisingly well at No. 6 Georgia last week).
There is a big difference, though, and it might not be noticeable unless you see the guys off the field. The difference is in their self-assurance, in the way they carry themselves. Last year, the team’s leader was essentially an outsider – a newcomer who had just transferred from Cincinnati, fifth-year senior Chazz Anderson. Head coach Jeff Quinn (who coached Anderson at Cincy) loved the quarterback, but the rest of the offense looked uncomfortable. Anderson had tons of athletic ability, but the offense had no chemistry.
Zordich, who is in his third year in Quinn’s system and selflessly took a backseat to Anderson last year, looks like a seasoned veteran. He has shown remarkable poise in the pocket and a running ability that can’t be understated. He’s been accurate, too, and Saturday he went 10-for-10 in the first half.
Oliver is the best college football player who nobody has heard of – though they’re starting to learn his name. It’s tough for him to get publicity like guys from SEC schools, but Oliver is one of the best tailbacks in the country. He will not be satisfied with fewer than 100 yards. Ever. He probably won’t be satisfied with fewer than 150. His father – who travels to every game from his home in Miami, Fla. – told Bo after the last game, “we could’ve had 300 [yards].”
Neutz said he once caught four touchdowns in high school (he went to school 15 minutes down the road from UB), but he’s never played with this kind of confidence. I don’t think it makes sense to doubt a guy who is catching every pass in his direction.
Neutz was on the cover of The Spectrum the day before the game. Coincidence? Not a chance.
The Spectrum has become the reverse-Madden curse. Get on the cover and you’re headed for a dynamite performance.
The Bills didn’t give us much reason for optimism on Sunday. Get to a UB game and you’re going to see some blue and white offensive fireworks. Book it.