Bulls look to bounce back at home
Central Florida visits Buffalo Saturday night
No one said starting over was going to be easy.
In just their second game running the spread offense, the Bulls (1-1) found that changing systems requires a learning curve when the Baylor Bears (2-0) defeated Buffalo 34-6 last Saturday. Buffalo hopes its offense is more effective Saturday night when Central Florida (1-1) makes a visit to UB Stadium.
As disappointing as the game was, Bulls head coach Jeff Quinn won't allow his players much time to lament a win or a loss.
"We have a 24-hour rule," Quinn said. "We have moved on [from the Baylor game] and are getting ready for Central Florida. It's great to get back home to our fans and our families."
Returning home may be exactly what the Bulls need to restore their confidence. They dismantled Rhode Island, a Division I FCS team, in a convincing fashion two weeks ago at UB Stadium and hope to utilize the home-field edge this weekend.
Quinn shook things up in the defensive backfield after last week by naming senior cornerback Domonic Cook as the starting strong safety against UCF. Cook has played his entire career at corner, but Quinn wants his best 11 defensive players on the field.
"Domonic is a very smart football player and he always puts the team first," Quinn said. "In doing this you're trying to put your best players on the field… if you have three senior corner's that are [three] of the best of your four, then find a way to get them on the field. That's what we've done."
Senior cornerback Sherrod Lott will take Cook's spot at corner to give the Bulls four seniors in the secondary.
The defense will also gain experience with the return of senior defensive end Jerry Housey, who missed the first two weeks due to injury. Housey adds size, strength and leadership qualities to Buffalo's defensive front.
Central Florida's defense needs no additional strength. The Knights come to Buffalo equipped with the No. 13 ranked defense and the eighth best pass defense in the country.
Sophomore quarterback Jerry Davis needs a rebound performance to offset the Knights' defensive strengths. After a poor performance against Baylor that included only 163 passing yards, Davis looks to channel the energy he possessed during his 21-of-35 performance against Rhode Island.
The task will not be easy, but Quinn has faith in his quarterback.
"Jerry said he was pushing [the ball] too hard and he was forcing things against Baylor," Quinn said. "Jerry doesn't have to win the game but he has to manage it. He's shown accountability and ownership and we're going to get him to be the guy. He wants to lead this football program."
Leading the charge for the UCF defense is college football's active career sack leader Bruce Miller, who has 28 sacks. In a preseason listing on CBSSports.com, Miller was named to the Preseason All-American Third Team and was the Conference USA Preseason Player of the Year. He has recorded eight tackles so far this season and had one sack against N.C. State last Saturday.
This week's game against UCF presents a whole new set of challenges to the Bulls. The Knights feature two quarterbacks in their system. Junior Rob Calabrese should get the start for Central Florida, but freshman quarterback Jeff Godfrey found the most success last week.
Godfrey is a dual threat who can hurt a defense both on the ground and through the air. In his first action of the season last week, Godfrey threw for 107 yards and led the team in rushing with 53 yards.
With Central Florida down 28-7 heading into the fourth quarter, Godfrey almost completed a miraculous comeback with two rushing touchdowns. But the clock ran out and the Knights fell to the Wolfpack, 28-21.
Senior free safety Davonte Shannon doesn't see UCF's dual quarterback system as much of an issue.
"It will be about paying attention to detail in the film room," Shannon said. "We have to stay on our game and execute when it's time to make a play. The defensive coaches will come up with a great plan to stop both quarterbacks."
The running game improved last week behind strong performances from freshman running back Branden Oliver and sophomore running back Jeffvon Gill. The Bulls will have to continue to incorporate the run to keep the UCF defense off balance.
Another key to the game is striking quickly against the Knights' defense. Early success could be what wins or loses the game for either team.
"Early on, we need to answer the bell," Quinn said. "The first quarter is going to have a lot to do with [the outcome] of this game."
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday night at UB Stadium.