Meditating on the Minutemen: The Spectrum’s Scouting Report
Published: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 17, 2013 16:10
The Bulls have won their past three games, against lesser opponents, by an average of 30 points. This week, they'll face another underdog: the UMass Minutemen.
Offensive player to watch
Tajae Sharpe, sophomore, wide receiver
Sharpe has emerged in his second season as the Minutemen’s primary offensive threat. After a dud in the team’s season opener, catching just one pass against Wisconsin, Sharpe has hauled in 34 catches for 318 yards and three touchdowns in his past five games. He leads the entire offensive unit in catches, yards and touchdowns. Despite strong statistics, Sharpe hasn’t been much of a deep threat for the offense – the longest of his 35 catches went for just 27 yards.
Defensive player to watch
Devin Brown, senior, defensive back
Brown saw the field in just seven games in 2012 as a special teams player for UMass. But his emergence in 2013 came in UMass’ season opener against then-No. 23 Wisconsin. It was his first career start at safety, and he amassed nine tackles and an interception. His play has remained on par in the Minutemen’s last five games, as he has totaled 52 tackles and two interceptions on the season. Brown’s 52 tackles lead the team and rank eighth in the Mid-American Conference. He is the star of a capable defensive backs unit that has picked off seven passes.
Bulls passing attack vs. Minutemen pass defense
It’s no question the Bulls should be able to run all over the UMass defense, which is allowing 247.3 rushing yards per game. If sophomore quarterback Joe Licata can continue to spread the field and complete the deep ball, the Bulls could be poised to earn their biggest blowout of the season. He shouldn’t have a problem accomplishing that, as UMass has allowed 35 plays of 20 or more yards this year. On third downs – which is often a critical passing down – the Minutemen have been dreadful, allowing opponents a 49.3 percent conversion rate. There’s no reason Licata and the offense can’t have their best scoring output of the season this week.
This is the final game of what has been a slate of ‘cupcake’ matchups for the Bulls. Their last five games (including this week) have come against the weakest opponents they’ll face all season. But they’ve handled their business and done more than just win those games – they’ve blown out their opponents in a fashion Bulls fans aren’t accustomed to witnessing. We expect more of this on Saturday.
Buffalo enters this matchup against UMass as a 21-point favorite – the largest margin in school history. A win on Saturday is extremely likely – the real question is, by how much? Senior running back Branden Oliver will continue his dominance on the ground, senior receiver Alex Neutz will grab a touchdown in his seventh straight game and the Bulls’ starters won’t need to see the field in the fourth quarter.
Buffalo 38, UMass 3