Bulls hold annual Blue-White spring game under Leipold

Daniel leads white team to two touchdown drives in spring game


Welcome to the Lance Leipold era of Buffalo football.

On the first play the spring football game Saturday afternoon, senior quarterback Tony Daniel handed the ball off to senior running back Anthone Taylor. Taylor tossed it back to Daniel as he flung the ball for an incomplete pass downfield.

And according to head coach Lance Leipold, it may not be the last time it’s run.

“We were trying to work some play action things, but we’ll work on that, ” Leipold said.

On Saturday, the Bulls held their annual Blue-White spring football game at UB Stadium. It was the first time the Bulls played the annual spring game under Leipold, who was hired to take place of former head coach Jeff Quinn in December. The white team was made up of the offense, while the blue team was the defense. The first half consisted of 20 plays per quarter, while the second half had 15 plays per quarter.

While there was no official score held, the white team found the end zone three times.

Leipold said he was happy with the offensive performance.

“We just worked on the game plan we wanted. We kept it simple – some passes on all three phases, some simple running plays,” Leipold said. “I liked the way our offense looked.”

With junior quarterback Joe Licata out for spring practice as he recovers from offseason hip surgery, Daniel started with the first team and played the first two drives in the first and third quarter.

Daniel said the team “looked good,” despite the few snaps played on offense.

“We had a good day,” Daniel said. “We just did some baseline stuff, trying to get our plays in. Fifteen plays isn’t enough to show or do everything, but I thought we did well from an offensive standpoint. Receivers looked good, our backs look good and the offensive line played well.”

Daniel went 8-for-14 with 76 yards and two touchdown passes and one interception on the day. His first touchdown pass was a 14-yard pass to junior tight end Mason Schreck in the first half. His second was a 15-yard pass to senior wide receiver Marcus McGill in the second half.

McGill finished with three receptions for 42 yards. Leipold said McGill is a “really talented guy” and he will look to find an appropriate role for him, whether he plays as an inside or outside receiver.

Four quarterbacks would ultimately play in the spring game, while arguably the second best performance was from junior quarterback Collin Michael. Michael went for 5-for-8 for 115 yards and one touchdown – a 26-yard pass to senior wide receiver Mikel DeMonte – on the day.

Leipold said he was pleased with the performance on both sides of the ball. While both sides had their own play calls, Leipold said both teams played “generic,” adding that after he speaks to his coordinators, he plans to install different plays on both sides of the ball.

The Bulls defense racked up eight tackles for losses, five sacks and one interception on the day. The defensive line didn’t blitz much throughout the game, but often created pressure on both the quarterback and ball carrier out of the backfield.

Leipold said the defensive line played well, while offering another small note about how the team plans to use the talent they brought in on the front four.

“I thought they did really well,” Leipold said. “You can see some good penetration from the interior two guys, you can see some nice play from the three defensive ends – actually, all four defensive ends did a nice job. I know Tim Edwards, our defensive line coach said that we’ll have eight to rotate and feels good about that.”

Sophomore free safety Ryan Williamson got the defense started with an interception off Daniel on the second drive of the game. Leipold called the interception a “nice move by Williamson.” Williamson, who is usually known for his hard-hitting ability, is “showing growth as a playmaker.”

Freshman defensive end Randy Anyanwu finished with two sacks and two tackles for loss, while sophomore defensive end Solomon Jackson added two sacks of his own. While the defense stayed in a 4-3 formation for much of the game, the offense used different formations throughout.

Offensively, the Bulls used numerous sets, from two tight ends, to I formation and even some spread, incorporating four or five receivers on the field at the same time. On two of three touchdown drives by the offense, the Bulls were in their spread formation when reaching the end zone.

Heading into the last few practices of the spring, Leipold said the spring game allowed him to see what the team is capable of heading into the summer and eventually into the season.

“We have a baseline of where we’re at now,” Leipold said. “We’re going to see what needs to be added or removed on both sides I think this group of players and coaches understands what’s going to be expected from them and what needs to be modified. We have a great foundation.”

The first game of the 2015 football season will be on Saturday, Sept. 5 against Albany.

Quentin Haynes is a sports editor and can be reached at quentin.haynes@ubspectrum.com