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UB-Texas A&M Game Wrap

Texas A&M 82, UB 58

How UB Lost: The Bulls took a step up in class and hung tough for 27 minutes but couldn't overcome the foul predicaments that limited the playing time of Jarod Oldham and Javon McCrea. The score suggests they were outclassed but they weren't.

Turning Point: UB trailed 51-49 when McCrea was hit with his fourth foul with about 12 minutes left. The offense struggled in his absence and soon the snowball started rolling.

Stat Check: UB was outscored 48-26 in the paint and 20-8 off turnovers.

Tough Start: Foul trouble pushed true freshman guard Shannon Evans into 22 minutes of action in his college debut. Against an SEC team. On the road. It wasn't his night. He went 0 for 5 from the field and turned it over a game-high five times. He'll shake it off.

Out of Whack: Will Regan never got it going on the offensive end and became a defensive liability when the Aggies went small and quick. He had one trey and five rebounds in 18 minutes and just never got into the flow.

Impressive: Forwards Justin Moss and Xavier Ford combined for 13 points and nine boards off the bench. The X-Man, a junior, played with a newfound enthusiasm and confidence (and sometimes too much of both) but it looks like this offensive style is to his liking. Moss, a beast, should be a big asset in MAC play.

In the House: All of 4,969 came out to see the first hoops game of the season. That's about one-third of the number camping out in the parking lots awaiting Saturday's football game.

You Know It's a Football School When: The final stat sheet shows six players logging over 40 minutes.

What It Means: That the Bulls aren't going unbeaten in Bobby Hurley's first year as coach. Twenty-seven regular-season games to go.

Next Up: UB's at Niagara Wednesday night. It'll be louder at Taps than it was at Reed Arena (a very nice facility, by the way).

-- Bob DiCesare

UMass Inching Forward

By Bob DiCesare

You can look back at UB's 29-19 victory over UMass at Gillette Stadium last November as one of the turning points for the Bulls.

UB came in playing well, just as it is this year. UMass was coming off its first win of the season (over Akron, just as it is this week (over Miami). UB trailed that game, 13-0, and needed to score the final 22 points to put the Minutemen away. The ability to come back on the road under a redshirt freshman QB in Joe Licata was a major confidence boost to a team that had struggled mightily away from UB Stadium.

Can UB get away with a similarly dreadful first half in Saturday's 3:30 matchup at UB Stadium? It would be a high-risk proposition. UMass is making headway in its second year in the MAC.

"Our team has more experience than it did a year ago," UMass coach Charley Molnar said Monday. "We were new at that winning thing after the win over Akron. Believe me, we didn’t go into the next game thinking that we had it figured out. . . . We didn’t have the depth that we have today and we didn’t have the experience that we have today. . . . We still have a ways to go from a maturity standpoint. We still have a ways to go from a depth standpoint. But we’re in a better position today than we were a year ago at this time."

Molnar and UB coach Jeff Quinn were on Brian Kelly's staffs at Central Michigan and Cincinnati.

Striggles to Miss a Half

By Bob DiCesare

Defensive back Dwellie Striggles will sit out the first half of Saturday's game at Western Michigan for his participation in an altercation and disqualification from UB's game against Eastern Michigan.
Okoye Houston and Tomarris Bell, also DQ'd, escaped further disciplinary action as secondary participants.

"The ejections have been addressed with the MAC office, Danny White, myself," coach Jeff Quinn said. "Dwellie Striggles will sit out the first half of this upcoming weeks game against Western Michigan but will play. No further action will be taking place with Okoye Houston and Tomarris Bell.

Zordich Status Up in Air

By Bob DiCesare

UB backup quarterback Alex Zordich did not participate in today's practice after suffering a concussion during Saturday's 42-14 victory over Eastern Michigan at UB Stadium. Zordich came on for starter Joe Licata late in the third quarter of the lopsided victory and played two series before giving way to Tony Daniel.

Bulls coach Jeff Quinn said Zordich is feeling better and can't be ruled out for Saturday's game at Western Michigan. However, typically a player has to be symptom-free for a week before being cleared.

Meanwhile, running back Anthone Taylor is practicing again after serving a two-game suspension for an unspecified violation of team rules.

UB's Clarke: Confidence Unshaken

By Bob DiCesare

UB kicker Patrick Clarke already has missed more field goals through five games than all of last season. But he equates his situation to the mentality of a golfer who hits a shot that doesn't come off quite right: Forget about that one and hit the next.

"Just taking it one kick at a time," Clarke said after practice Tuesday. "We've had a lot of 40-plus-yard field goals this season. So I just have to take it a kick at a time. Obviously I'm not happy with myself. I feel that's inexcusable. I have to do my job but it's just taking it a kick at a time."

Clarke has made four of nine attempts on the season, with four of the misses coming between 40 and 49 yards. He made four of five from that range last year while going 11 of 15 overall. On the plus side, none of his misses have ended up costing the Bulls and his makes include a 49- and career-best 50-yarder against UConn.

"Most of them have been really close," said Clarke of the misses. "I think a lot of it's just a matter of taking the right line because in this stadium sometimes the winds kind of swirl a little bit. Even if there doesn't seem like there's much wind there's still a little bit to push it so I just got to make sure my line's right every time and just take a deep breath and take it a kick at a time. I know if I do that I can make every single kick."

UB Renews Emphasis on Run

By Bob DiCesare

UB finally got its running game going in the second half against Stony Brook Sept. 14, and the Bulls are looking to build off that improvement with running back Branden Oliver a go for this Saturday's game against visiting UConn. 

"Absolutely," coach Jeff Quinn said on this morning MAC coaches teleconference. "We talked about it again this past week in terms of controlling the line of scrimmage with our big guys up front along with our tight ends and fullbacks. The things that I saw out of them this week, there was a concerted effort to get in and watch more film, understand the little detail things that make an effective run-blocking offense."

UConn (0-3) has been overpowered at the line by all three opponents -- Towson, Maryland and Michigan. The Huskies have yielded 598 yards on the ground while managing just 156 themselves.

UB (1-2) got 118 yards from backup Anthone Taylor and another 30 from James Potts after Oliver sat out against Stony Brook with a sore knee. 

"I think the approach this week has been about running the ball and that's what we're going to continue to do," Quinn said. "Our guys are excited about that part of the game plan. But there's going to be some times we're going to have to throw the ball. They're a big Cover 1 team. They're going to press, get up in your face, so there's going to be some tight-window throws in addition."

The 3:30 kickoff will follow a pregame concert featuring country music recording artist Randy Houser. 

 

A New Game Day at UB

By Bob DiCesare

A new era of sorts begins Saturday as UB athletics launches a game-day initiative aimed at drawing the community to UB football games and, just as importantly, cultivating dedicated fans who'll return for more.

The tailgate experience begins at 12:30 p.m. -- three hours before kickoff against Stony Brook -- when Stampede Square adjacent to the stadium opens to the public. At 1:15 p.m., UB players will stage the "Walk to Victory," and a pep rally begins.

The first concert of the season-long series commences at 1:30 with a performance by Blues Travelers. On-site activities include a miniature golf course, a climbing wall, and an autograph booth. Buffalo Sabres goaltender Jonas Enroth will appear.

Regular readers know I'm not a big fan of all the intiatives launched by UB athletics. But this one is right on target. In covering UB away games I've witnessed first hand the enthusiasm generated by the game-day experience at other institutions. It's quite a sight.

UB athletics has made a relatively sizable financial commitment in an effort to bring that kind of feel to Buffalo. I'm interested to see if it makes an impact, boosts attendance and  takes WNY's affinity for UB football somewhere beyond lukewarm.

Video: Trevor Sales, rap MC

UB Putting Baylor Out of Mind

By Bob DiCesare

UB won't spend a lot of time today reviewing the tape from Saturday's 70-13 thrashing at the hands of Baylor. And that makes a lot of sense because, seriously, what good would it do? The Bulls will encounter dangerous athletes at the skill positions as they move on with the season but they won't see anything remotely close to the collection that Baylor threw at them Saturday in Waco.

Here's what head coach Jeff Quinn had to say on this morning's MAC coaches conference call:

"The only thing that I want is anything that allows our coaches, our staff, to try and make a point in terms of teaching moments, whether it's structural, whether it's effort, a technique, an assignment," Quinn said. "It's got to be positive. It has to be something that we utilize so our players can learn from it. But to sit down and watch every single play is not going to be the mindset today. That's not what we're going to do. We're going to focus a little bit on what we have to accomplish in terms of looking at things that happened Saturday, isolated situations, and then move on."

UB plays its home opener against FCS Stony Brook at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Stony Brook has been off since a 24-0 victory over Rhode Island in Week One. The Seawolves were picked seventh and Rhode Island last in the Colonial Athletic Association preseason poll.

 

UB's Baylor Connection

By Bob DiCesare

The emergence of the Baylor football program in recent years hits home with UB secondary coach Maurice Linguist, an all-conference safety with the Bears before graduating in 2006. Baylor was an afterthought in the Big 12 until the arrival of quarterback sensation Robert Griffin III. Now the Bears have gone to bowl games each of the last three years, saw RGIII win the Heisman and have a new $250 million home in Baylor Stadium set to open next season.

"The Baylor family down there is committed to trying to build that program up, the same thing we're trying to get done here in terms of financial support," Linguist said. "They got a big project with the stadium going up and I think they got some big donations going on with that and obviously the football team winning a lot of games has helped. Coach Briles has done a great job bringing that program up to a premier national program.

"It all starts with us, it all starts with wins, and it starts with people on the outside just really being committed the way guys on the inside are committed as well."

Linguist said it's been a couple of years since he paid a visit to his alma mater.

"It's always good to get back whenever you get a chance but Buffalo's home right now and we're trying to get this thing done and go win some games."

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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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