UB Bulls looking for consistency against Ohio to avoid 0-3 MAC start

Buffalo faces Bobcats Saturday

Head coach Lance Leipold knows his team isn’t playing consistent enough to be a winning football team.

That’s evident by Buffalo’s three-game losing steak that has it near the bottom of the Mid-American Conference. Buffalo posted 500 yards of offense in a close loss to Bowling Green three weeks ago, but sputtered last Saturday and finishing with 236 yards of offense in a 51-14 loss to Central Michigan (3-4, 2-1 MAC) and has been up and down all season.

Leipold admits the Bulls (2-4, 0-2 MAC) will need to correct those consistency issues against Ohio (5-2, 2-1 MAC) at UB Stadium Saturday if they’re going to avoid an 0-3 start to conference play.

“It’s inconsistency right now,” Leipold said. “We got to find ways to become more consistent at what we’re doing. It’s not where it needs to be for us to be a winning football team.”

Leipold said the team worked on building on its performance against Bowling Green during the following bye week, but it all came apart against the Chippewas.

“I think we came away from the Bowling Green came with a lot of positives,” Leipold said. “And if you still look at what’s happened since then: the defensive performance, the offensive ball control in that game. We have a lot to build on and to take a step back that we did is disappointing but that doesn’t mean we can’t ourselves back to where we want to be.”

But the Bulls may have to get back to where they want to be on offense without their start running back.

On Tuesday, Leipold announced that senior running back Anthone Taylor missed practice and was considered questionable/doubtful heading into Saturday’s matchup. Taylor left last week’s game in the third quarter due to a lower body injury and did not return to the game. The Bulls may have to put their faith entirely on the shoulders of junior running back Jordan Johnson.

For the season, Johnson has accumulated 305 yards on 67 carries – all second to Taylor’s team-leading 521 yards on 110 rushes. It’s possible Johnson could have a big day after Bobcats allowed 430 rushing yards on 44 attempts with four touchdowns in a blowout loss to Western Michigan.

Leipold also noted Ohio’s elusive rushing game, which directly affects the Bobcats passing game.

Ohio quarterback Derrius Vick isn’t known for his throwing, but his mobile game is what makes him a threat on Saturdays. Last year, Vick ran for 44 yards and a touchdown while throwing for 118 and another score through the air in a 37-14 victory over the Bulls at Peden Stadium.

With Vick’s ability to make plays with his arm and legs, Leipold expects to see a rushing attack that could be able to open up Ohio’s passing game.

“Teams that are able to run the ball, in their philosophy, will have excellent play action pass,” Leipold said.

Saturday is the last game of arguably the hardest three-game stretch for Buffalo in MAC play this season. But an 0-3 hole may be too much for Buffalo to overcome. The Bulls have not won a conference game yet and Leipold admits changes still need to be made.

In order to take home a victory, Leipold said the Bulls must make adjustments.

“We’ve adjusted a few things during the open week,” Leipold said. “We’re always evaluating. We always will evaluate. We’ve talked about we want to make sure we’re creating competitive situations at practice within the program.”

Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.

Jordan Grossman is the co-senior sports editor and can be reached at jordan.grossman@ubspectrum.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jordanmgrossman.