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Thursday, February 29, 2024
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5 takeaways from UB football’s spring game

UB hosted its annual blue and white spring game on Sunday afternoon with NFL star Khalil Mack in attendance

<p>&nbsp;UB football held its annual spring game Sunday at UB Stadium.</p>

 UB football held its annual spring game Sunday at UB Stadium.

UB football hosted its annual blue and white spring game on a cool and windy day at UB Stadium Sunday. In what was a high-energy and competitive game between teammates that lasted for just over two hours, the white team emerged victorious, winning 25-7.

With key contributors from the 2022 season getting plenty of playing time throughout the game, the biggest star in attendance was, ironically enough, on the sideline wearing street clothes.

Former UB star and current Los Angeles Charger Khalil Mack arrived at the game early in the first quarter, much to the surprise of fans in attendance. After dapping up players on the sideline and watching the first half, Mack gave a quick speech to the crowd at halftime.

https://twitter.com/UBFootball/status/1650233003937787905?cxt=HHwWgsCzxY-L5-YtAAAA

Here are five takeaways from the game:

Turnovers galore

Although weather conditions weren’t ideal, ball control was an issue for both offenses. 

Four interceptions were thrown between the six quarterbacks who threw a pass in the game (Cole Snyder, Gunnar Gray, CJ Ogbonna, Richie Watts, Mike DePillo, Mason Cumbie) according to unofficial stats provided by the UB Athletics communication department. 

Interceptions weren’t the only issue, as both blue and white recorded one fumble lost (Al-Jay Henderson for blue, Marlyn Johnson for white).

Snyder struggles

Fifth-year quarterback Cole Snyder — who started all 13 games last season for the Bulls — received plenty of playing time on Sunday. 

But between the windy conditions and what might be a lack of chemistry with his pass catchers on team blue, Snyder struggled.

The final stat line shows Snyder throwing 10-of-23 for 102 yards with a touchdown and a pair of interceptions. The touchdown came on the first drive of the game, as redshirt freshman running back Mark Anthony Scott Jr. took a halfback screen 61 yards for a score.

After the first drive, it was tough sledding for Snyder and team blue’s offense, failing to score again the rest of the game.

Nik McMilan, wide receivers shine

Led by redshirt freshman wide receiver Nik McMilan, team white stole the show on offense. 

After scoring a 20-yard touchdown in the first half, McMilan picked up right where he left off, starting the second half by catching a quick pass before outrunning the defense for a 73-yard score. McMilan finished the game with 4 catches for 134 yards to go along with his two touchdowns.

Fifth-year wide receiver Marlyn Johnson was also heavily involved in the white team’s passing attack. Despite having a couple of drops and a lost fumble, Johnson was by far the most targeted weapon for team white, recording 8 catches for 56 yards.

The white team also utilized senior wide receiver Tadd Barr, who finished the game with 3 catches for 58 yards.

With 2022 star receivers Justin Marshall and Quian Williams now gone, the Bulls will need some of their new and unproven receivers to step up this season.

Lockdown secondaries

Both teams relied heavily on the pass game to move the ball, putting the secondaries for both squads to the test.

Senior cornerback Caleb Offord extended for an interception early on for team blue, setting the tone for the rest of the game. 

Sophomore safety Jonathan Capo was also all over the field for the blue team, finishing the game with 8 tackles and a key pass breakup that saved a touchdown.

For the white team, fifth-year and 2022 AP All-America third-team safety Marcus Fuqua had a relatively quiet day, recording two tackles.

Senior cornerback Clevester Hines had a big day for the white team, finishing with an interception, a sack and four tackles.

Run game ineffectiveness

On a windy day, one would figure that both teams would lean heavily on the run game. But that wasn’t the case on Sunday, as both teams struggled to get anything going on the ground from the start. 

Redshirt freshman running back Joseph Giggie received almost all of the carries for team white, toting the ball a whopping 34 times for 120 yards. Because of the lack of running lanes, Giggie only averaged 3.5 yards per carry. 

It’s also worth noting that fifth-year running back Ron Cook Jr. and sophomore running back Mike Washington did not play in Sunday’s game. In 2022, Cook Jr. rushed for 600 yards and four touchdowns, while Washington finished the season with 428 yards and five touchdowns.

UB will begin preseason camp in August before opening the 2023 season in a Sept. 2

matchup at Big Ten powerhouse Wisconsin.

Brandon Cochi is an assistant sports editor and can be reached at brandon.cochi@ubspectrum.com

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