Bulls’ dual backfield could bring a different look
Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 20:09
For the last two seasons, the Bulls’ running game has been the foundation of the offense behind senior running back Branden Oliver. A new back might be on the horizon for the Bulls.
We know Oliver’s story: first-team All-Mid-American Conference as a sophomore, named to several national preseason watch lists this year and on pace to become UB’s all-time leading rusher.
We don’t know the story of sophomore Anthone Taylor, who exploded onto the scene last week against Stony Brook for 125 total yards (including 118 rushing yards on 24 carries, an average of 4.9 yards per carry) and two touchdowns while Oliver sat out with a knee injury.
“Before the season started, I told you we had other guys that could do the job just as well,” Oliver said.
Perhaps the most notable thing about Taylor’s performance was his abrupt insertion into the starting lineup. Head coach Jeff Quinn was told just moments before the game that Oliver wouldn’t play.
Quinn preaches to his players to be prepared because they never know when it will be their time. That preparation paid off for Taylor.
“[Taylor] answered the call,” Quinn said. “I tell the players all the time: you put yourself in the mindset that every week, you got an opportunity to play if you’re the next guy in. Before the game, when I heard [Oliver wouldn’t play], not even a word came out of my mouth and [Taylor] said, ‘Next Bull In, coach. I’m ready.’”
Oliver returns from injury this week and will play against Connecticut on Saturday, while Taylor’s role – as the second part of a potential two-man backfield – seems unclear at the moment. During Tuesday’s press conference, Quinn wouldn’t talk specifics on using both backs.
“We’ll get him in there,” Quinn said of Taylor, after noting Oliver will be the starter and is deserving of such a role.
It’s clear Oliver is the starting tailback for the Bulls, but how much will Quinn divide the touches between the two?
Taylor said he hopes the offense will have a two-man rotation so Oliver can get the breaks he needs in order for the running game to get an extra boost. Oliver has been injury prone for the past two seasons, but he said Tuesday, “The knee feels great.”
Taylor is unsure of how big his role will be on Saturday, but his preparation remains the same.
“I see myself coming in to get [Oliver] a spell and to be sure that when I come in, it’s like he never left,” Taylor said.
The Bulls are averaging 96.3 rushing yards per game this season. In comparison, they averaged 190.1 last season.
They will need a productive run game to beat UConn on Saturday, no matter which back ends up getting the bulk of the carries.