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It’s time to Quinn

...and the Bulls are dangerously close to doing so

Senior Sports Editor

Published: Sunday, September 30, 2012

Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11

nate

Spectrum File Photo

 

Coaching legend Bill Parcells once said after a frustrating loss: “You are what your record says you are.”

That might be true. The Bulls, after a tough 24-17 loss to UConn on Saturday, now sit at 1-3 a third of the way into a critical 2012 season. They haven’t beaten a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team this year. They are 0-1 in the Mid-American Conference after an ugly home loss to Kent State, on national television no less.

With road trips to Ohio and Northern Illinois on the docket and a homecoming game against Pittsburgh on the horizon, the Bulls are edging close to the danger zone: the season slipping away in a heartbeat.

But, after watching the Bulls play Saturday, one thing’s for certain: The Bulls are this close to putting it all together.

Despite its inability to play a complete football game, Buffalo has been close all year. Against Kent State, even though junior quarterback Alex Zordich set the forward pass back 50 years with a 4-for-22 performance, the defense held the Golden Flashes close and the Bulls were a possession away from taking a lead in the fourth quarter. Against Georgia, the Bulls were within eight points at halftime on the road, and they had the Sanford Stadium faithful booing a team that is still ranked in the top five in the nation – a serious threat to win a national title this year.

Against UConn, head coach Jeff Quinn went for broke and coached his ass off, at least on the offensive end.

After Buffalo’s first touchdown drive, which included a well-timed screen pass on fourth-and-five to freshman running back Devin Campbell that went for 30 yards, Quinn decided to go for the onside kick. It worked to perfection, and although the resulting drive left the Bulls empty-handed, it was a sign to the team that he was willing to do whatever it took to win this crucial road game.

Another sign of Quinn’s aggressive nature: late in the game, the Bulls decided to reach further in their bag of tricks with a “Hook and Ladder” play. Zordich threw a short pass to junior wide receiver Alex Neutz, who flipped it to junior running back Brandon Murie. Murie was wide open. He scampered 50 yards for the score.

Speaking of Murie, how about that running back duo? With junior running back Branden Oliver nursing an injured leg, Murie and Campbell – the “Gruesome Two-some” – filled in nicely. Both scored a touchdown, the first of their careers. This is a promising sign, especially because when Oliver does return, the Bulls won’t have to rely too heavily on his production to stay in games.

As a result of Quinn’s aggressiveness, the Bulls ended up with the ball and a chance to tie the game with moments left in the fourth quarter – an astonishing feat after being down 24-7 late in the third.

It wasn’t all good: Zordich did finish 13 for 30, he did throw a terrible interception in the second quarter and that last drive for the Bulls was a bit of a head scratcher with all the short routes that were thrown. But Zordich just takes punches, owns up to them and keeps fighting.

They say playing the quarterback position is mentally taxing, and it’s refreshing to know he is the type of guy who is his toughest critic. He may not throw the prettiest ball at times, but he does make plays with his feet – which was evident against two of the best rushing defenses, UConn and Georgia, the Bulls will face all year.

After games, it’s evident his teammates will continue to have his back and defend him; after all, they do know that he, and the team as a whole, are a few plays away from winning these games. He has the potential to make those plays. Quinn agrees, which is why he refuses to wilt to public pressure to switch to the hometown choice, freshman quarterback Joe Licata.

Winning doesn’t happen by accident. As German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said: “He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.”

The Bulls are dangerously close to hitting the skies.

 

Email: nathaniel.smith@ubspectrum.com

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