Gridiron report card: UB Bulls fall to Bowling Green in MAC play
The football team (2-3, 0-1 Mid-American Conference) fell 28-22 to Bowling Green (3-2, 1-0 MAC) Saturday at UB Stadium. The Falcons led 28-9 at the start of the fourth quarter before a Buffalo rally that fell short.
Here’s how The Spectrum graded Buffalo’s performance:
Senior Joe Licata had yet another impressive 300-plus passing yard performance, but his untimely plays prevents him from getting an ‘A’.
Licata threw the ball 59 times, a new school record, while completing 35 of those passes. He found seven receivers for positive yardage and successfully worked around a dangerous Bowling Green defense.
But the interception early in the third quarter halted momentum for Buffalo as it was driving toward its first touchdown of the day.
Running backs: A-
The duo of Jordan Johnson and Anthone Taylor proved to be a deadly 1-2 combo once again.
Taylor, a senior, picked up 93 yards while Johnson, a junior, added another 45 yards and the team’s only rushing touchdown. There wasn’t much opportunity for open runs, but the duo made the most of it and still ended up with impressive days.
Wide receivers and tight ends: A
Seven different receivers grabbed a ball for positive yards on Saturday en route to one of the more impressive performances by the receiving unit all season.
Senior tight end Matt Weiser proved he can be a regular part of the passing offense after his eight reception, 90-yard performance to follow up his record game from last week. Senior wide receiver Ron Willoughby hauled in the only touchdown through the air as part of his 73-yard performance.
The only downfall was a questionable offensive pass interference call on senior wide receiver Marcus McGill, which would have given Buffalo another touchdown.
Offensive line: C+
Don’t let a one-sack performance fool you.
Although this unit only allowed one sack for six yards, Licata was hurried on multiple plays and was often unable to successfully finish drives with a touchdown. The line allowed five tackles for losses and Licata was brutally hit three separate times.
It’s clear this unit still has some work to do.
Defensive line: C
Finally, there was some production from a lackluster unit, but nothing to get over-zealous about.
The defensive line recorded three sacks and was able to control a deep Falcons running game during the second half. But ultimately, it was Bowling Green’s running game that won them the game. Travis Greene ran for 119 yards and three different players ran for a touchdown. There were also runs of 29 and 36 yards allowed from an inside run.
Brandon Crawford had the biggest day on defense as he compiled a sack and two tackles for losses to go with four tackles.
There was nothing too flashy about the up-and-coming unit, but they deserve a high grade for effort.
Junior Brandon Berry and senior Nick Gilbo combined for 23 tackles while controlling the inside running game. Senior Okezie Alozie had arguably his worst game this season, recording just four tackles.
One of the few positives about the secondary was ending Matt Johnson’s passing streak.
The defensive backs “limited” one of the best quarterbacks in the nation to 324 yards through the air, after he had a four-game streak of 400 passing yards. But other than that, there wasn’t much to be proud of.
Roger Lewis went off for 201 yards and a touchdown grab as he justified his case as one of the top receivers in the nation. Senior cornerback Marqus Baker looked lost trying to cover the speedy down-the-field threat as Lewis had 196 yards alone in the first half.
Once junior cornerback Boise Ross was moved over to cover him, it was a much different result. But ultimately, it wasn’t a pretty game for the secondary all around.
Special teams: A
Freshman Adam Mitcheson continues to prove his worth to the Bulls, even though his sample size has been small.
Mitcheson added three more field goals today of 30, 28 and 27 yards and didn’t miss one either. He is 7-of-9 in his young career. His only downfall was a shanked extra point after Willoughby’s late touchdown.
Senior punter Tyler Grassman only had two punts, but both went further than 46 yards. He is continuing to cement himself as one of the best punters in the Mid-American Conference.
For the first time since head coach Lance Leipold came to Buffalo, he’s done a bad job as a head coach.
There were multiple problems Leipold and the coaching staff experienced on Saturday and there were very few mid-game adjustments. The biggest adjustment he made was when he switched from Baker and Ross to cover Lewis, but it took a 196-yard receiving performance in the first half to do so.
Leipold also had questionable play calling throughout the afternoon, beginning with 59 passes from Licata. Late in the third quarter, Licata threw three straight incomplete passes within the Bowling Green 10-yard line and settled for a field goal instead.
When Willoughby scored a touchdown to make the game 28-15, Leipold sent his kicking unit onto the field instead of going for 2. Had they completed the conversion, all Buffalo would have needed was a touchdown with a 2-point conversion and a field goal to tie.
The Bulls enter a much-needed bye week after two straight losses.
Jordan Grossman is the co-Senior Sports Editor and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jordanmgrossman