The Bulls may have a quartet of capable running backs to carry the load, but they found their rhythm on the arm of Jerry Davis Thursday night.
The sophomore quarterback led the Bulls (1-0) with 302 yards for four touchdowns in a lopsided 31-0 shutout victory over Rhode Island (0-1) at UB Stadium.
"[It's helped] in practice, going against our great defense every day," Davis said. "Being a quarterback, you have to manage the game right and that's what Coach Quinn expects out of me."
Glancing at the final box score, however, doesn't tell the entire story.
The Bulls struggled to close out drives in the first quarter. If not for the Rams inability to convert on offense, the contest may have been much closer.
Bulls' head coach Jeff Quinn knows that there will be growing pains but thinks his team played well in the opener.
"This is our first time taking the field together," Quinn said. "From my standpoint, you can build on a 31-0 victory…We saw some things out there that we need to clean up…Overall, I couldn't be more proud of these kids."
Perhaps the biggest statement was made by junior wide receiver Marcus Rivers who has been much maligned for his tendency to drop passes. With a career-high 10 catches for 155 yards and a touchdown, Rivers went above and beyond to relieve all concerns regarding his hands.
"It seemed like the whole world was against me," Rivers said. "Like [the receivers here] couldn't fill the shoes of Naaman Roosevelt and Brett Hamlin. But Coach Quinn has believed in all of us and that we had the ability to [succeed]"
Davis put on an aerial display for the 16,273 fans in attendance as he connected with four different receivers in the end zone. He averaged 14.4 yards per pass and finished the night 21-for-35.
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Alex Neutz picked up where he left off in the spring game. The Grand Island native made several big catches, highlighted by a diving grab at the five-yard line that brought the crowd to its feet.
"[I thought I overthrew him] but I was on my back with two defenders on me," Davis said. "But I heard the crowd and I knew he caught it…I just wanted to give him a chance to catch it and he did a great job catching it. It definitely gave us momentum after that."
Davis then found junior wide receiver Ed Young in the left corner of the end zone to give the Bulls a 17-0 advantage.
The Bulls entered the locker room at halftime with a 24-0 lead after Neutz scored his first career touchdown. The freshman finished the night with 99 yards receiving on five catches.
The play of senior linebacker Justin Winters energized an early lackluster effort by the defense. He recorded eight tackles in the game, two for loss, as well as a sack.
"We have a lot of speed on defense and we practice hard," Winters said. "It's second nature when you practice hard every day…I'm an emotional leader and I just try to be physical."
The shutout was the first by the Bulls since November 3, 2001 when they defeated the Ohio Bobcats 44-0.
Buffalo will travel to Floyd Casey Stadium to take on the Baylor Bears on Saturday, Sept. 11. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.