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Mason Making Leap to Auburn

By Bob DiCesare

Antoine Mason's announcement that he'll play his final season at Auburn is being portrayed nationally as a quality catch for new Tigers coach Bruce Pearl. Whether that proves true depends on if Mason, a 6-foot-3 guard with one season of eligibility remaining, makes a seamless transition from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, ranked No. 16 in the RPIs last season, to the SEC, ranked No. 7.

Mason averaged 25.6 points for Niagara last season, and that makes him the top returning scorer in the country. He pretty much had free reign as the Purple Eagles went young after coach Joe Miahlich left for Hofstra and three significant players transferred out. New coach Chris Casey gave him mega-minutes and rode the horse -- for better or worse. There weren't many other options at the offensive end.

Will Auburn grant Mason the same kind of freedom? And will his physical approach to offense remain effective against taller, stronger guards in the SEC?

Mason has always craved a challenge, whether it was coming back from the injury that ended his true freshman season or trying to carry his young teammates in the post-Mihalich upheaval. But despite his warrior-like attitude and his undeniable grittiness it's interesting that coaches left him off the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conferene first team after last season, going with five players instead of six even though Mason had been part of a six-man first team the season before.

Was that a commentary on his style? Does the demotion mean the coaches perceived his approach at exceedingly me-first? Maybe so. But there's no denying his offensive gifts.

That aside, Mason's departure was the best thing for Niagara moving forward. Casey can now build a program without deferring to one player. He can develop balance within the offense, something that wasn't going to happen so long as Mason was in uniform. This is a transfer situation that should prove best for all involved.

Richt on Georgia Ranking

Here's what Georgia coach Mark Richt had to say Tuesday about Georgia's lofty preseason ranking. The Bulldogs are No. 6 in the AP poll:

“The year we were preseason No. 1 (in 2008), that was the year Cordy Glenn and Ben Jones started as freshmen, and it’s hard to think you’re the preseason No. 1 team when you have a lot of freshman linemen starting for you. We have a brand new punter, kicker, tailbacks. There are a lot of question marks, no doubt, but I think everybody in the country have some kind of issue. Sometimes teams look more glamorous when they are far away. You don’t see all the warts.”

Of course, Glenn was drafted by the Bills in the second round in April, 41st overall.

Richt on the strength of the SEC:

“Our teams have been able to have one make it to the national championship game every year for the last six years and win it. If we were in that game six years in a row and won three out of six, I don’t think people would be talking about the SEC as being a dominant conference. The reality is we’ve won the last six in a row, and with teams that might have had a loss here or loss there. One year there were two losses with LSU having two losses. People are saying a one-loss SEC team may still be the best team in America, or at least still has the right to play for it. Of course Alabama had one loss and they didn’t win the league, but they played for the national championship and won it. I think it’s a tribute to the programs as a whole."

-- Bob DiCesare

Tennessee 41, UB 10

KNOXVILLE -- Student fall break here in Knoxville so we're going to be well under capacity of 102,000 and changed. Like maybe 10,000-20,000 under. Still, quite the spectacle looking out at the sea of orange. Partly cloudy skies. Temperature's 54 degrees with 10 mph winds. This is the final nonconference game of the season for both teams. Tennessee comes in 2-1, having beaten Montana and Cincinnati and lost to Florida. Buffalo has lost two straigth, to Ball State (in the MAC) and UConn. After today the Bulls shift exclusively to MAC play beginning with next Saturday's visit by Ohio.

1ST QUARTER

If first series is any indication is going to be tough going for Bulls on ground. Meanwhile, Vols already moving smartly downfield with passing game . . .

7-0 TENNESSEE: Raijon Neal untouched around the left side. Three plays, 48 yards.

Bulls moving . . . Anderson picks up season-high 21 on scramble to UT 43. It adds another dimension to offense when he's willing to take off with it. Drive ends up with punt. UT drive start on own 16 with 9:35 left.

14-0 TENNESSEE: Da'Rick Rogers takes a Bray pass from the 7 in front left corner of end zone after getting inside position on Cortney Lester.  3:53 left in quarter. Vols are just too fast. Lester had RB Tauren Poole contained on run around right side but Poole just exploded around the corner for 9 yards.

14-7 TENNESSEE: Anderson goes 68 yards straight up the gut after a play-action fake to Oliver. ... Bulls recover fumble on kickoff. Start at UT 21. Drive starts with sack that's on Anderson. Bulls end up trying 44-yard FG that Fardon misses miserably.

17-7, :30: That missed opportunity hurts Bulls big time as Vols come right back and get 28-yard Michael Palardy FG.

END OF FIRST

17-7 TENNESSEE: Chazz Anderson out after taking a shot from safety Prentiss Waggner. Alex Zordich in at QB for Bulls.

SECOND QUARTER

Da'Rick Rogers a man among boys. Vols WR already has career-high 142 receiving yards. Tennessee not missing Justin Hunter, who went down last week with a season-ending knee injury.

24-7, 8:25 left: Make it 154 yards for Rogers. He comes up with 12-yard TD reception from Bray, capping 88-yard drive. Bray had all day. No way Cortney Lester's going to hang with Rogers all the way across field when Vols have that kind of time to throw.

Anderson back in at QB.

Attendance announced at 87,758. This place must be incredible when it's packed.

31-7: 2:08 left in the half and I'm Rocky Topped out. Vols go 72 yards in 11 plays, the last a 13-yard pass from Bray to DeAnthony Arnett. The speed difference between the teams is astounding.

 Bray's UT record to 10 straight games with multiple TD passes.

HALFTIME: Tennessee 31, UB 7. Bulls can be thankful Vols bit on play fake that opened way for Anderson's 68-yard TD run. It's been the only blemish against UT's name in this one. Vols just way, way too quick. Especially Poole, Rogers. Have to think Tennesee might give regulars first series of third quarter and then hand 'em the rest of the day off. Poole has 79 yards on 11 carries, Rogers 154 yards on six receptions. Bulls Zordich and Anderson a combined 6 of 18 passes. Branden Oliver just 31 yards on 10 carries.

THIRD QUARTER

TENNESSEE 38, UB 7: Bray TD pass to Arnett. 3:49 left in quarter. Drive covers 56 yards in 10 plays in 5:17.

FOURTH QUARTER

TENNESSEE 41, UB 7: With 11:32 left, Michael Palardy boots a 28-yard field goal.

TENNESSEE 41, UB 10: With 8:38 left, Peter Fardon drills a 30-yard field goal.

--- Bob DiCesare

 

Hello From Knoxville

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Awoke this morning to 41 degrees and made the easy drive in from Johnson City some 90 miles away. "UT" flags waved from car windows all along the way. The parking ramp is next to the Tennessee River so me and my Tennesee host, former News employee Karen Borrelli, walked over to take a look at all the UT fans who motored in by boat. Then we waited outside the media gate for the "Vol Walk" down Peyton Manning Way. Amazing how many Vols fans line up along the route as the players parade to the stadium. Here's the press box view at Neyland Stadium.

 

Bulls add another Georgia prospect

---Fresh off the news that quarterback Chazz Anderson is transferring to UB, the Bulls added another late recruit in Georgia cornerback Matthew Quick, The Buffalo News has learned.

Quick is a product of Westlake High School which lists Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and Adam “Pacman” Jones as graduates. Quick, who also excels in track and field, was originally slated to join Georgia as a preferred walk on but Bulls’ recruiting coordinator Ernest Jones began recruiting him heavily in June.

Quick signed scholarship papers with UB on Saturday and will open with the Bulls when training camp begins Aug. 8.

“During the last week of school, Coach Jones came down to my school and said he wanted to offer me,’’ Quick said. “Coach [Jeff] Quinn gave him the ok and they flew me up here [on Friday] and showed me around. It was great. They care more about the person you’ll become after you graduate and not just the person you are on the field.’’

UB is creating a nice pipeline into the talent-rich state of Georgia. Peach State natives on the Bulls' current roster include sophomore Najja Johnson (Atlanta), redshirt freshmen Cordero Dixon (Suwanee), Devon Hughes (Tyrone) and Kendall Roberson (Decatur) and true freshman Tony Daniel (Hiram). The Bulls also have a verbal from linebacker Adrian Lindsey (Douglasville), who was a teammate of Daniel's at South Paulding High.

The Bulls play at Georgia in 2012.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

Draft night

Mack-kemba ---Seth Davis provides draft profiles for 40 of the top NBA draft prospects in the country like UConn's Kemba Walker and Butler's Shelvin Mack, pictured right.

 ---The dreams of the members of this draft class are on hold, for reasons completely out of their control.

---Can Jimmer Fredette be an explosive scorer?

---Eric Williams off-season at Niagara has been rather painful.

---Former Binghamton coach Kevin Broadus has been hired by Georgetown as a special assistant coach.

---Boston University has finally hired a new coach.

---Former UCLA stars Ed O'Bannon and Baron Davis will be returning to Westwood this summer in order to complete their studies and recieve their degrees.

---Jason King details Mike Rice's efforts to resurrect Rutgers.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

Which teams will go 12-0 or 11-1?

---Phil Steele examines which teams he thinks can go 12-0 or 11-1 this season, a few of which are UB opponents.

---With an $11.4 million cut in state appropriations looming, regents will vote on Eastern Michigan's annual budget. Combined with a possible $12 million increase in expenses, the school could face a $23.4 million shortfall.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

He's a Tiger

---St. Joe's Chad Kelly announced he's headed to Clemson but he had some nice things to say about UB, who recruited him heavily.

---Meanwhile, UB coach Jeff Quinn is spreading the word about the Bulls while defensive coordinator William Inge is one of seven Division I assistant football coaches and athletic directors taking part in the NCAA's 2011 Champion Forum this weekend in Orlando.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

Chambers brings energy to Penn State

Chambers ---Pat Chambers, pictured left, believes he can change the perception that Penn State is a bad coaching job. Why Chambers got into coaching is a good story.

---Gary Parrish hopes that no coach patterns his coaching career after former Kelvin Sampson.

---Bob Knight calls some NCAA rules idiotic.

---Jason King previews the top junior transfers in 2011-12.

---Here's a list of the 12 most-hyped recruits ever.

---The movers and shakers from pre-draft workouts.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

A look at all FBS teams

---With the 2011 season slowly arriving, the Bleacher Report takes a peek at all 120 FBS teams.

---This is a few days old, but UB associate head coach Ernest Jones talks about former Bull Josh Thomas.

---UB athletic director Warde Manuel joins Allen Wilson, Joe Major and myself on The Sports Insiders at 6:30 tonight on www.weck1230.com.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

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About Campus Watch

Bob Dicesare

Bob DiCesare

Western New York native Bob DiCesare covers UB football, Big 4 basketball and writes an occasional column. He still holds a grudge against Chris Ford who, he's convinced, cost St. Bonaventure the 1970 NCAA basketball championship.

@TBNDicesare | bdicesare@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered colleges for The Buffalo News since 1999. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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