Gridiron report card: UB vs. Army position breakdown
The Buffalo Bulls (1-2) pulled off the huge upset this week when they took down the previously unbeaten Army Black Knights (3-1) 23-20 in overtime. Coming off two straight losses to start the season, the Bulls were able to get their first win of the year against a team that came into UB Stadium Saturday night as the favorites.
Freshman quarterback Tyree Jackson showed his potential for greatness Saturday night.
The Bulls offense started slow and Jackson threw a pick on the second drive of the night. But by half, the passing game had begun to turn it around. Buffalo started to throw underneath and Jackson finished the first half nine of 12 for 45 yards.
Jackson’s 107 passing yards in the fourth quarter, along with two scores, were a major key to the victory. Jackson’s rush in overtime helped set up the game winner. His poise and ability to make big plays when the game was on the line shows that he could be a major factor for the Bulls for the next four years.
Running Backs: C+
Things couldn’t get on track as the Bulls running backs only finished with 54 rushing yards.
Senior running back Jordan Johnson came into the game averaging 100.5 rushing yards per game but was held to only 17 yards. Sophomore running back Johnathan Hawkins broke off a 21-yard rush but only finished with 37 yards.
The running backs were not given a lot of holes to run through, but also weren’t able to create much for themselves either. They each had two receptions in the game and did well in protecting the passer.
Wide receiver and tight ends: A
Junior receiver Kamathi Holsey made a huge play in the fourth quarter, diving in the back of the end zone to make a catch and begin the Buffalo comeback.
The entire receiving core had a good showing as they caught a lot of short passes on an Army defense that was giving up space underneath. Senior receiver Marcus McGill had 63 yards in the game, giving him 1,000 receiving yards in his career.
Senior tight end Mason Schrek had a couple of big catches in the game, including a fourth-and-nine catch for a first down.
Offensive Line: B-
The line struggled to control the line of the scrimmage and a Bulls offense that was averaging 228.5 rushing yards per game coming into the game, only had 87 rushing yards. The Bulls couldn’t open up space for the run game and the running backs were getting tackled in the backfield early.
For the second straight game, the Bulls’ offensive line didn’t allow a sack. The lines’ pass protection was solid, giving Jackson time to throw. They played big in the fourth quarter and were a big reason Buffalo made the comeback.
Defensive Line: B-
It’s hard to say a defensive line ever looks good when they allow 396 rushing yards in a game. But the Bulls defensive line didn’t look too bad.
In perspective, the Black Knights rush over 85 percent of their plays. After 67 rushes, the Bulls only allowed a six-yard per rush average. When the game mattered most they came through and in the final three drives they held the Black Knights offense to 41 yards, including a big three-and-out, in which Army rushed every play.
The Bulls’ line backing core combined for 47 tackles against Army.
While the fact that the Black Knights rushed for 396 yards looks bad, the Bulls linebackers really kept Army in check. They were tasked with playing against the read option on almost every down. The Buffalo linebackers managed to keep the play from getting outside of them most of the night. Junior linebacker Jarrett Franklin led the way with 17 tackles and sophomore linebacker Khalil Hodge had 16 tackles and a sack.
Buffalo’s secondary wasn’t tested much in coverage in the game.
Army only had 10 pass attempts in the game and only completed four. Senior cornerback Boise Ross was suspended for the first half because of a targeting penalty in last week’s game against Nevada. Sophomore cornerback Brandon Williams did more than fill in. Williams had an interception before half and also disrupted a pitch in the beginning of the third quarter that was recovered by junior linebacker Ishmael Hargrove, setting up Buffalo’s first touchdown of the night.
Sophomore cornerback Cameron Lewis made seven tackles in the game, as the secondary came up big in the run game.
Special Teams: B+
Of course hitting a game-winning field goal seems like qualifications for an automatic A. Missing an extra point might be a qualification for an F.
After missing his first kick of the night, an extra point, sophomore kicker Adam Mitcheson became a hero when he split the uprights to win the game. Both teams had fairly average return games.
While the playing calling was fairly conventional, in the end it proved to be effective.
Coaches were forced to find an answer for the run game not moving the ball. The passing game worked a lot of underneath routes in the first half to get the team in a rhythm. They tried to take a couple big shots but they didn’t quite work out.
The Bulls coaching staff finally found a way to counter the read option even though it took until the fourth quarter. Icing the kicker proved to be effective as the Bulls coaching staff used two timeouts in a row before Army junior kicker Blake Wilson missed a 34-yard potential game winner.
Daniel Petruccelli is a sports staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org