Each week, Voice of Bulls Football Paul Peck will preview the upcoming game.
Buffalo (1-2) vs. Boston College (2-2)
Last Saturday was an example of why we love college football, and why it's such a great game. No one outside the Bulls locker room gave them much of a chance against an Army team that was dominating opponents and grabbing headlines. Maybe through three quarters, most Bulls fans agreed. But the UB team didn't quit and never gave up. Armed with a great game plan on both sides of the ball, the Bulls started to impose their will on the Black Knights. The 14 point comeback was the Bulls biggest since the epic 2008 win over Bowling Green that clinched the MAC East title. Thanks to Adam Mitcheson's overtime kick, the Bulls shocked a lot of people with the win. Now, the season looks and feels a lot different than it did just two weeks ago. With the MAC portion of the schedule coming up, this UB team is looking a lot more ready to make a run towards a wide-open division title.
Bull Session Trivia: One former Buffalo Bill is one of only two current players to have their numbers retired at Boston College. One former Boston College standout is a member of the Bills Wall of Fame. Can you name these two players with BC/Bills connections? The answers below.
Bullseye on: Buffalo Offense
Think about it. Bulls QB Tyree Jackson is a goal line fumble away from leading two 4th quarter comebacks in his first three starts. Jackson took a big step forward against Army. Clutch play with the game on the line is a true test of a signal caller. Jackson passed that test, going 9/13 for 109 yards in the fourth quarter, as he led two scoring drives. Jackson's bullet throw to Mason Schreck on 4th and 9 was the biggest play of the game. Offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki's game plan made it easy on Jackson to shake off the Nevada game and get comfortable. Those confidence-building first half throws laid the ground work for his more difficult passes in the fourth…In a sign of an improving offensive line, Jackson has not been sacked in his 2+ games of action…It was good to see Marcus McGill break loose with his 49 yard catch and run in the 4th quarter. His ability to RAC (run after catch) up yards makes McGill one of the Bulls biggest weapons…As he gets settled into the UB offense, Kamathi Holsey is starting to show his amazing athletic ability. He came about an inch away from scoring one touchdown, and then did make a diving catch for the score that cut the Army lead to seven…Mason Schreck has led the Bulls in receiving in two of the three games, with exactly the same numbers. The big tight end has pulled in five catches for 58 yards in the Albany and Army games. He's got the "A" opponents mastered. Now time to move on to Plan "B"….Schreck will be tested by two of Boston College's best defenders. Linebacker Matt Milano and safety John Johnson are both NFL prospects, and the Eagles leading tacklers. Based on where they play, they will spend a lot of time watching Buffalo's #85…The Eagles have the country's sixth-ranked total defense. Last year, they led the nation in total defense. Lance Leipold describes them as a "physical, tough defense which is athletic in the secondary"…Leipold says the Bulls need to run the ball better than they did against Army. But BC is giving up only 91 yards rushing per game…They have sacked the quarterback 15 times in four games, led by Harold Landry's 4.5 sacks. He's among the nation's leaders, and he's coming off a three sack game last week against Wagner…The Eagles average forcing their opponents to six three-and-out possessions per game.
Bullseye on: Buffalo Defense
It sounds funny to say the Bulls run defense was very good, when the stat sheet showed the Army Black Knights running for 396 yards. But the Bulls really played well, and took Army out of their normal offense. The defensive tackles (Ford, Douglas, Perisse, Brandon) and middle linebacker Khalil Hodge shut down the fullback dive, the bread and butter play of the Cadets offense. That made Army run outside more, where they're not as effective. With Brandon Crawford, Jarrett Franklin and Ishmael Hargrove running down ballcarriers, Army could not sustain drives…When you play Army and they run so much, the tackle numbers will be inflated. But there was nothing fake about the performances of Franklin (17 tackles), Hodge (16), Hargrove (13) and Crawford (12). I can't remember the last time the Bulls had four players with 10 or more tackles. Crawford was a force running all over the field, in what I believe was his most dominant game in Blue & White…Hodge now has 33 tackles in the last two games. His season total of 39 tackles ranks second in the MAC…Franklin says he saw a lot of "heart and grit" in the performance, and feels like the unit is in its "forming" stage and staring to bond together….Franklin says the BC game is "one of our biggest tests, and we're ready. We're tired of being overlooked as a team and a program, and this is the chance to take the next step. We want to be the team that people don't want to play"…Assuming he doesn't get another iffy targeting call, this will be the first time in four games that Bulls cornerback will be on the field for an entire four quarters…UB's pass defense is ranked second in the country, allowing only 110 yards per game. Some of that is based on playing three opponents who do not throw much. The Bulls have faced only 56 passes and given up only 330 yards in three games…BC's offense is led by Kentucky transfer quarterback Patrick Towles. He's Tyree Jackson big, at 6-5 and 253 pounds. Towles won't be asked by BC's offense to throw too much. He can run, and had two scores last week. His favorite target is receiver Jeff Smith, who's caught three of Towles' four TD passes, all for more than 30 yards….Leipold knows Towles. Last year, they sat at the same table at a football event in Columbus, OH where former Bulls RB Anthone Taylor was being honored….The Eagles will run the ball with extensively. Jon Hilliman is the lead back….The Eagles offense is ranked 120th in the NCAA. The passing offense is ranked 117th.
Bullseye on: Special Teams
The Bulls special teams are coming off a very good performance, but they'll need to be good again this week. One unsung special teams play was the opening kickoff. Johnathan Hawkins returned that 38 yards. Because he was downfield, Army's kicker got involved in the tackle and injured his ankle. That's why the Black Knights had to rely on their untested backup kicker…Bulls kicker Adam Mitcheson said the OT winner was the first game-winning kick he's ever had…Mitcheson's made four of his six field goals this year…BC will test the Bulls coverage units. KOR man Myles Willis has two career touchdowns. PR man Tyler Rouse is 13th in the NCAA in punt returns, and had a 53 yard return last week.
Bull Session Trivia Answer: Former Bills quarterback Doug Flutie's #22 joins defensive tackle Mike Ruth's #68 as the only retired BC Eagles numbers. Bills nose tackle and former Eagle standout Fred Smerlas is a member of the Bills Wall of Fame.
Please join me, color analyst Jim Kubiak, sideline reporter Scott Wilson, game host Brad Riter and postgame host Bob Gaughan for the broadcast on the Bulls Football Network. Our pregame show starts at 12:00pm. You can hear it in Buffalo on ESPN 1520 (www.espn1520.com). A link to the online broadcast is also available at http://www.ubbulls.com/video/test-live2.