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Monday, June 17, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Bulls Battle Bulls

It's never too early to start thinking about football, even if it's only April.

The football team held its annual Blue and White game on Saturday afternoon. The game was originally scheduled to be held at UB Stadium, but inclement weather forced the team to move to the Buffalo Bills' field house at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Due to lack of space, the event was closed to the public.

The crowd was much smaller than most of the players are used to seeing on game day, but that did not stop them from putting forth their best efforts, as the offensive and defensive squads competed in one of the oddest-style games that they will play in their college careers. The offense accumulates points based on a normal football scoring system, but the defense is awarded points based on accomplishments, such as sacks or interceptions, and its ability to stop the offense's progress. The offense defeated the defense, 49-34.

While the game-style scrimmage was fun for everyone involved, the real reason that the game is played is for the coaching staff to evaluate the talent on the roster. Every player participated in the scrimmage, and head coach Jeff Quinn was pleased with what he saw from all of them.

"From an offensive standpoint, we saw some big explosive plays," Quinn said. "We did have two picks, but we had no fumbles. We put a great deal of emphasis on taking care of the ball. We were able to run the ball and put the ball in the end zone. Defensively, we were opportunistic at times. We took Josh Copeland, who was a linebacker at the beginning of the spring, and put him at safety and he was very productive. So we were very pleased with that."

The most explosive of Quinn's players was senior wide receiver Marcus Rivers. The fifth-year athlete burnt the defense for 198 yards and three touchdowns on nine catches. He was able to succeed no matter which quarterback was under center, as he had long touchdown plays from both junior quarterback Jerry Davis and sophomore quarterback Alex Zordich.

Rivers was excited after the scrimmage but understands that just being successful on his own is not the ultimate goal.

"I just want to win a MAC championship," Rivers said. "It's for the team. I had a sense of that in 2008 but I didn't contribute like I wanted to. I just want to get back there so we can have a sense of pride again about UB because the team and the fans deserve it."

For the team to attain that goal, it must first decide who will lead the charge. Davis and Zordich both spent time starting for the Bulls last season, and they are currently in competition to decide who will keep the job.

Both players performed well in the scrimmage. Davis finished the day having thrown 9-of-16 for 153 yards and two touchdowns, while Zordich went 6-of-13 for 169 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions.

Although the position is open to whichever player proves himself before the season begins, Quinn acknowledged that Davis is currently the frontrunner.

"Davis started today's game so he has the slight edge," Quinn said. "He'll have that edge through the summer and heading into camp, but it's going to be competitive and that's important. I like that Jerry's gotten better. He's really demonstrated a more commanding attitude [over the offense]."

If the quarterback competition was not enough of a question mark for the offense, the squad is also facing the challenge of learning under a new offensive coordinator. Alex Wood took over the offense after Greg Forrest was fired after the season.

The players seem to be responding well to Wood's mentality and are excited to have the opportunity to work with him this season.

"[Coach Wood] is bringing in a winning attitude which I love," Davis said. "He's very positive, not a negative guy at all. He's hard on us, but that's only going to make us better. I think he's done a pretty good job up to this point, and he's going to keep moving forward."

The offense is not the only part of the team adjusting to changes. The defense was forced to replace most of its backfield after it lost four seniors. Quinn understands that the process of replacing the production that was lost will be difficult, as the new starters will take time to become accustomed to everything that will be expected of them.

"We've got to do more work on the back end of our defense, and I know [defensive coordinator William] Inge understands that," Quinn said. "We kind of held back some of the things that we wanted to do defensively that I think may have eliminated some of the situations, in terms of the quarterback getting the ball out of his hands. We need some work and we need some more time, but that's why the summer is going to be so valuable for those kids getting more experience."




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