Gridiron report card: UB Bulls fall to Nevada
Senior quarterback Joe Licata would have received an ‘A’ if he hadn’t thrown two interceptions. He completed 28 of 46 passes for 338 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. His first pick came off of an overthrown deep ball that was picked off by Nevada’s Daemon Baber inside the end zone.
His second interception came on Buffalo’s last offensive play of the game as he tried to bail Buffalo out of a 4th and 15. Licata managed the game very well and when it came down to make a play, he made it for the most part.
Running backs: C
The running game was a tale of two halves for the Bulls.
In the first half, running backs Jordan Johnson and Anthone Taylor amassed a total of 37 yards combined, mostly due to excellent tackling by Nevada defenders. Buffalo then rushed for 112 yards in the second half. Johnson’s costly fumble late in the fourth quarter stopped momentum that ultimately could have led to a score.
Receivers and tight ends: A
What a day to be on the receiving core.
Seniors Matt Weiser and Ron Willoughby amassed a total of 253 receiving yards. It was a career day for Weiser as the tight end caught 10 passes for 131 yards and a score en route to the best single game for a tight end in Buffalo’s Division-I history. Sophomore wide receiver Collin Lisa was “Mr. Reliable” on the day as he caught four passes for 51 yards and a score. Lisa also caught two of his four receptions on critical third down plays.
Offensive line: C
Inconsistent is the word to describe the Bulls’ offensive line.
Every time the unit took a step forward, it took two steps back. Licata was under constant pressure because the line kept getting beat off of the snap, which resulted in Licata being sacked twice. The Buffalo running game was virtually non-existent in the first half as the Wolf Pack defenders blew up nearly every rushing hole.
When the line did block well, however, Licata had time to look deep and make several big plays that almost affected the final outcome of the game.
Defensive line: F
Nevada had 289 yards rushing on the day, 202 of those yards coming in the first half. It seemed as though the Buffalo defensive line was basically invisible when it came to run defense.
Nevada’s offensive line simply swallowed them up. The D-line failed to bring any pressure to Nevada quarterback Tyler Stewart. The Bulls did hold the Wolf Pack to 87 yards rushing in the second half, but still allowed untimely runs en route to their second loss of the season.
Three Bulls linebackers had career days. Seniors Okezie Alozie (12), Nick Gilbo (12) and junior Brandon Berry (13) all finished with career-highs in tackles. Gilbo, in particular, stood out the most.
Although he only accumulated two assisted tackles in the first half, Gilbo went on an absolute tear in the second, as he racked up four solo tackles, six assisted tackles and a sack. All the linebackers were good in coverage whenever they were 1-on-1.
The Bulls’ secondary held Stewart to a mere 90 passing yards on the day.
Stewart didn’t have to pass much due to the strength of the Wolf Pack’s running game, but Buffalo’s secondary still held their own as it didn’t allow a single passing play of more than 20 yards. Junior cornerback Boise Ross had three total tackles and four pass breakups on the day. His pass breakup total is now at 10 on the season.
Special teams: A
It’s been one of the most consistent units on the team this year, but Saturday’s game against Nevada exceeded all expectations.
Senior punter Tyler Grassman continued his great plays as three of his five punts pinned Nevada inside their own 20. Freshman kicker Adam Mitcheson made both of his field goals, including a career-high 43 yarder.
Head coach Lance Leipold did a good job on the day, but could have made better decisions in the crunch time of the matchup.
Although he was overly conservative on long yardage situations, we still give Leipold credit for sticking with the running game in second half after a dismal 37 rushing yards in the first half.
Overall clock and timeout management led to the Bulls having a chance to win late in the game.
Romulo Romero is a sports staff writer. Sports desk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org