Buffalo takes on Eastern Michigan: The Spectrum’s Scouting Report
Published: Thursday, October 3, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 10, 2013 13:10
Offensive player to watch
Tyreese Russell, junior, tight end
The junior tight end has eclipsed his previous career total in receptions through just four games this season. Russell leads the Eagles with 23 catches for 230 yards. In their first Mid-American Conference game last week against Ball State, he caught just four passes, but in their previous two games, he snagged a combined 17 passes for 157 yards.
The Eagles’ offense has scored six touchdowns in eight red-zone appearances so far this season. Russell is quarterback Tyler Benz’s favorite target, so the Bulls will need to keep an eye on the 6-foot-3, 242-pound tight end near the goal line.
Defensive player to watch
Mycal Swaim, senior, defensive back
Swaim is a junior college transfer and is now in his second season at Eastern Michigan. He started just five games last season, but this year, he’s leading the team in tackles (29).
Swaim intercepted his first pass as an Eagle in Week Two against Penn State. He is a leader in the defensive backfield and has helped Eastern Michigan shut down opponents on third downs – generally a passing down.
In their last three games, the Eagles’ ‘D’ has allowed a stingy 23.3 percent conversion rate on third downs. On the other side of the ball, the Bulls have converted on just 32.3 percent of third downs this season.
Branden Oliver vs. Eastern Michigan run defense
Last week, we said the Bulls needed to establish their run game in order for the offense to start clicking. They did just that behind senior running back Branden Oliver, who rushed for 90 yards on 23 carries.
As a team, the Bulls rushed 43 times compared to 20 pass attempts. Eastern Michigan’s run defense has been porous this season, allowing 208.8 yards a game and six yards per rush. Last time these teams played, in 2011, Oliver rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns. This is another opportunity for the Bulls to establish their identity on offense – as a physical, run-first offense.
The Bulls will advance to a 3-2 record for the first time in their FBS history. As much as last week’s game against UConn was a ‘must-win,’ this game is a ‘should-win.’
In its last two games, Buffalo’s defense has allowed just two total touchdowns in regulation and the Eagles’ offense lacks any explosive weapons. Their defense isn’t much better, allowing 37 points per game to opponents this season.
The Bulls were able to pound the ball on the ground against the Huskies last week, which opened up the passing game for sophomore quarterback Joe Licata. He attempted 19 passes and averaged 17.7 yards per completion.
This is another key game for the Bulls to continue to build confidence before they enter the true rigors of their MAC schedule.
Bulls 27, Eagles 13