Gridiron Report Card: Bulls get three defensive touchdowns against Florida Atlantic
Senior quarterback Joe Licata has seen better days. Against Florida Atlantic, Licata completed just 10 of 20 passes for 105 yards and finished with zero touchdowns and an interception. He was inaccurate and often moved around, getting into pressure situations against the Owls. As a result, he had one of the worst games of his UB career.
Running backs: A
While Licata struggled, the Bulls leaned upon the running backs and got solid production from their one-two punch. The Bulls finished with 185 rushing yards and one touchdown in a balanced effort. Senior Anthone Taylor led the way with 116 rushing yards on 25 carries, while junior Jordan Johnson had 66 yards on 14 carries and found his way to the end zone on a 19-yard sprint.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: C
It was a lowly day for the Buffalo receivers and tight ends. Five players caught at least one reception from Licata, but no one caught more than two. Sophomore Collin Lisa (two catches, eight yards) and senior Marcus McGill (two catches, 28 yards) led the way for the receivers, while senior tight end Matt Weiser tied with two catches and had 22 yards on the day.
Another offensive skill player appeared in the already crowded Bulls receiving corps, as junior receiver Malcolm Robinson had the one big play for the Bulls, taking his lone reception on the day for 43 yards.
Offensive Line: B
The Bulls offensive line did a good job of keeping Licata upright and allowed just one sack on the day to an agile Owl’s defense. But in terms of negating pressure, the Bulls had trouble stopping Florida Atlantic at times and had a part in Licata’s poor play. It was better than last week against Penn State, but adjustments still need to be made.
Defensive Line: A
In terms of running defense, the Bulls did allow 105 rushing yards but held the Owls to just 3.1 yards per carry. Along with the improvement in the running game, the Bulls got five sacks on the day, highlighted by senior linebacker Nick Gilbo and his 1.5 sacks
. Getting five sacks, forcing two turnovers and getting a safety is always a good day for any football team.
The Buffalo linebackers had themselves a day. Unheralded senior linebacker Travis Pitzonka returned a fumble back 60 yards for a touchdown. Senior Brandon Berry forced a fumble and finished with three tackles for loss. Gilbo also contributed nine total tackles, 1.5 sacks and a quarterback hit.
The Bulls forced another turnover here as junior cornerback Boise Ross got his second interception of the season. This time he took it back 39 yards for a touchdown.
It seems that this position should get a higher score for their effort yesterday but the stats don’t lie. Florida Atlantic had two 100-yard receivers and their quarterback Jason Driskel threw for 385 yards and two touchdowns.
Special Teams: B
Senior punter Tyler Grassman gave the Buffalo defense great field position on his nine punts for a total of 349 yards, while freshman kicker Adam Mitcheson went 4-for-4 on extra points. He did miss one of his two field goal attempts on the day.
Head coach Lance Leipold did a great job of going to a more conservative running attack when he saw Licata struggling on the day. The Bulls didn’t panic when they were down 9-0. They got a quick score to end the half and made adjustments to score 26 unanswered points.
But the best coaching of the day came from defensive coordinator Brian Borland. The ‘D’ looked poised and focused from the beginning and the three-touchdown performance was proof.
Quentin Haynes is a co-senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org