Q&A with UB Bull Run

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Bulls flipped the script in the 4th quarter last year and pulled out the overtime win. Tim Riordian over at UB Bull Run reached out to me to do a Q&A on the upcoming Buffalo/Army game. In my questions to him we talk personnel, rivalries, and moral victories. Below are his answers to my questions, My answers to his questions can be found here.

Is your team healthy? I watched the Minnesota game pretty closely and I don't recall any notable injuries.

The Bulls got through Minnesota without any injuries, showed some promise, and the check cleared. So it was not a perfect day but it was still a pretty decent one.

 Who are some of the top performers on the Buffalo roster? 

On offense you want to watch sophomore Quarterback Tyree Jackson and his primary receiver Anthony Johnson. Jackson is in his second year as a starter and is beginning to mature into the role, his decision making was excellent in the Minnesota game. He has a cannon for an arm and is able to tuck the ball and pick up yards on the ground. 

Anthony Johnson is the cousin of NFL stars Jadeveon Clowney and Johnathan Joseph, and he's built like it. He is the first receivers I've seen at UB who looks like he might really draftable since Naaman Roosevelt. He was a junior  transfer who used a redshirt last season and he gave the Gophers fits last week in his first start.

On defense Watch out for Khalil Hodge. He had 20 total tackles against Minnesota and will be responsible for trying to gum up the works on your offense.
Do you see any positions where the Bulls may have a talent or schematic advantage over Army?

I don't think anyone's defense "schemes" well against Army. It comes down to discipline, decision making, and execution. If everyone on the defense does their job you can contain Army, if the defense gets sloppy Army will run all over the field and you just have to hope the offense can keep up.

Our offense may match up well in that we have receivers that are going to be a challenge for your defensive backs and UB likes to stretch the field. Even with Anthony Johnson catching everything in sight the Gophers did not lock in on him in the second half because they knew that would open other areas up. Our inability to run (or kick field goals) made sure that was the right decision for Minnesota. If Army can't keep UB's running backs out of the game it may be a different story this week.

This one is just out of personal curiosity:  I don't follow Buffalo very closely, and looking up and down the MAC a clear rival didn't jump off the page for me. Who does Buffalo consider their main rival in football? Do fans have a favorite regular opponent?

Buffalo has no main MAC rival in football for four reasons; History, geography, performance, and Culture.

* History - The MAC is an incredibly stable conference. Six teams have been members since before the mid 50's, four more joined in the early 70's. Only Buffalo and Akron came in during the past 90s.
* Geography - So Akron and Buffalo came in at the same time but Akron is a stones throw from Kent. You also have the Michigan Trifecta (East, West, Central), Bowling Green and Toledo are right next to each other, Miami and Ohio compete, and Ball State are also a thing.
* Performance - UB has two winning seasons since becoming a member of the conference, it's hard for anyone to consider that a rival.
* Culture - UB is not "East Coast" like New York City or Boston but it is way more East Coast than Muncie, Athens, or Toledo. A third of UB students are form New York City and 15% or so are international. We are as close to a flagship public university as New York has and that does not match anyone else in the conference.

I had hoped that UMass would have come all in because of the geography and culture would have become our rival. We even created a virtual trophy for the game, the Powder Horn.

Of the current slate of teams I would say our hoops hatred for Ohio and Akron boils over into football for our fanbase.
There is no shame in pushing a power 5 team like Minnesota to the brink like Buffalo did . After last season, is there any value in that kind of moral victory for UB fans or is the Minnesota game looked at as a missed opportunity? 

I don't believe in moral victories anymore, I've spent a lot of times over the years hanging my hat on things like pushing Ohio State or playing Pitt really close. I'm not upset at the loss but I see two missed field goals and a flea flicker which should have been caught as things which cost UB a game they really needed.

The good that comes out of it, for me, is not the moral victory but the fact UB's play calling seemed to be light years ahead of last season.

Head Coach Lance Leipold came to Buffalo with a near-perfect coaching record and more championship trophies than one could fit on a coffee table. What kind of expectations do you have for him at Buffalo?

I think a lot of people, including me, put too much on him when he came. Many people did not realize that the facilities, budget, and community support at Wisconsin Whitewater is among the very best in DIII, at Buffalo it's the other way around. He started out really well in year one. He was 5-4 with three games left and it looked like year one could be a bowl game. but the Bulls ended on a three game skid and have been truly terrible ever since. 

The Bulls were able to hang around for 4 quarters in Minneapolis but are now 0-1 on the season. If Buffalo is going to improve on last year's results, is Army a must win game? 

Buffalo lost to an in state FCS team and only won two games last season. I'd say the bar for "improving on last year's results" is rather low, in fact it may be buried underground".

That being said, before last week I had Army as a sure loss but now I'd say the Bulls have a chance and this game would be a big win for the team. Army is a good opponent and a win would make starting conference play with a 2-2 or 3-1 record possible. 

Would you care to make a prediction for the game?
Every week our community on Bull Run does the BRuPeG (Bull Run Pick'em Game). Our community's average pick right now is Army 25, UB 22. I'm going to be a homer and say Buffalo 28, Army 20. 

Thanks to Tim for the opportunity for an exchange like this. Check out UB Bull Run (and on twitter) for an alternate reality New York college football experience.




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