By Bob DiCesare
Back on Monday Stony Brook coach Chuck Priore said on the CAA teleconference that when a FCS team meets an FBS team early momentum can be the difference between a competitive game and a blowout. That makes sense. The longer the underdog can hang around the more uncertainty it instills in the favorite and its fans.
Given that basic truth, one might have expected UB to come out Saturday determined to re-establish its identity by shifting the run game into gear. Instead, the Bulls abandoned the run, passed 30 times the first two quarters and allowed the Seawolves to hang around. It almost cost them dearly.
Has a UB offensive game plan ever strayed so far from the norm? And what possibly could have been the rationale? Head coach Jeff Quinn said that was the opening script whether or not Branden Oliver was in the lineup (he wasn't). If so, that means the Bulls were out-thinking themselves all week. If it takes such an extreme deviation of approach to ready for an FCS team then what does that say about their chances of confronting MAC East rivals like Ohio and Bowling Green straight up?
UB came out five-wide and the backfield empty. Again, if they want to throw BG a curve or mess with Ohio, OK, variety has its place. But in this game? After a resounding defeat at Baylor? And in the home opener? Those were the doings of a team that isn't sure what it is.
"We're multiple in our personnel groupings," Quinn said. "Alex Wood, my offensive coordinator, my entire offensive staff felt good about that. It had nothing to do with Bo. We were going in with with five wide. We want to spread them out and to create an understanding that we were going to get out there and throw the ball a little bit at the beginning of the game, try and back them up a little bit, which opened up the run game, which it did at certain times."
Fact is, UB went to overtime tied at 10 so its doubtful their pass-happy attack had much if any impact on what transpired in the second half. The deviation probably had more to do with the Seawolves being in the game the whole way.
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Quinn said Oliver tweaked his knee in warmups. I have to wonder. Oliver sat out the second half of the Baylor game and Anthone Taylor took more first-team reps than normal leading up to Stony Brook. Oliver looked OK jogging out to the field before the game and after the half. My guess he is had soreness after Baylor and the feeling was they could get the job done without him against Stony Brook and give him two weeks of rest (UB byes this coming week).
Like a lot of football coaches, Quinn isn't exactly forthcoming when it comes to injuries so it's a cloudy situation.
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Adam Redden and Okoye Houston were all over the field but I didn't realize they combined for 31 tackles (17 by Redden). Those are monster numbers. Khalil Mack was in on 10 stops playing mostly off the edge and often double-teamed. His motor never stops. More of a few of those tackles caught runners from behind after his initial burst at the line.