Prepare to launch
Bulls look to spark winning ways against Rockets
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Let the fireworks begin.
After a tough showing for the football team last week, scoring only six points in a loss against Pittsburgh (3-4, 0-3 Big East), the Bulls (1-6, 0-3 Mid-American Conference) will hope to have some welcome faces join a struggling offensive unit. Junior running back Branden Oliver and junior wide receiver Alex Neutz are expected to return to action after missing time with injuries. Oliver has missed four games for the Bulls with a left MCL sprain, and Neutz missed last week after taking a vicious hit to the ribs in a loss to Northern Illinois (7-1, 4-0 MAC).
The Bulls will definitely have their hands full as they take on another tough MAC foe in Toledo (7-1, 4-0 MAC). Last week, the Rockets’ defense and special teams took control, scoring all of their points in knocking off previously No. 18 Cincinnati (5-1, 1-0 Big East) 29-23. The Bulls have come close to delivering wins, but field position has proved to be the downfall of the team this year.
The last time they met: Buffalo won for the first time in the series between the two teams, beating Toledo 43-33 at UB Stadium in 2007. James Starks’ performance for the ages led the way for the Bulls. Starks torched the Rockets’ defense to the tune of 231 yards and added three touchdowns. The Bulls exploded offensively in the first half and took a 36-13 lead after quarterback Drew Willy hit Ernest Jackson for a16-yard touchdown pass.
The Bulls’ ‘D’ hung tough after Toledo scored 20 points in the second half to make things interesting. Buffalo made enough stops and its running attack kept the ball away from the Rockets to secure the win.
Players to watch:
Terrance Owens– The junior quarterback is not a player to be taken lightly. His athleticism and arm make him a complete quarterback. So far this season, Owens ranks as the fourth-most efficient passer among active NCAA-FBS players with a QB efficiency rating of 153.96. Also, he ranks ninth among active career passers in completion percentage with 66 percent. The Bulls’ secondary will have its hands full as it tries to defend against Owens, an athlete who randomly received a phone call from the San Diego Padres stating they had drafted him in the 40th and final round of the 2012 MLB draft. The funny thing is the guy has never played baseball. That’s how athletic he is.
Bernard Reedy– A 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown last week against Cincinnati, an 89-yard kickoff return against Eastern Michigan on Oct. 13, and a 66-yard punt return for a touchdown against Central Michigan on Oct. 6. The junior wide receiver has cemented himself as a full-time special teamer by winning MAC West honors for special teams in three consecutive weeks. With the Bulls struggling on the special teams side of the ball, it will be interesting to see what their game plan will be against Reedy.
Matchup to watch:Bulls special teams vs. Bernard Reedy. “Speedy Reedy” will look to devour the Bulls’ special teams unit that has given up two kickoff returns for touchdowns this season.
He said it:
“I said this to our team two or three weeks ago, but he is honestly one of the best running backs in the Midwest right now. He’s such a hard runner; he’s got the ability to make cuts in space where he’s getting that extra four or five yards because he’s making somebody miss in the hole. I know I said this before the season, but I really felt that he was going to have a breakout year.”
– Toledo head coach Matt Campbell on running back David Fluellen
Prediction:If Oliver returns to the lineup along with Neutz, the Bulls will be able to move the ball a lot better than they have in recent games. However, the Rockets’ offense has a dual-threat quarterback in Owens, along with a solid complementary running back in Fluellen. Look for offensive fireworks from the Rockets, leaving the Bulls unable to catch up.