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Five observations from UB's 22-16 loss to FCS Albany

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Posted at 11:49 PM, Sep 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-02 23:49:53-04

Buffalo fell to Albany 22-16 in their season opener. Thoughts about the Bulls going forward:

 

Rohach's no-good, terrible, very bad day.

Is the quarterback battle over after one week? It might be.

Rohach's first pass of the day was a interception on a play he simply misread the defense, and missed a linebacker who had dropped into zone coverage. Not an ideal start.

...it only got worse from here.

The Iowa State missed two passes on his next drive, leading to a three-and-out. Even the completions for the Iowa State transfer weren't always pretty. His first completed pass was high and in traffic, but Marcus McGill bailed the quarterback out by skying for the catch. Rohach would net a few solid runs on that drive, but two sacks ended the drive, and missed field goal kept Buffalo scoreless.

One possession later -- Rohach was still stuck on one completion when he threw his second interception, once again deep in his own territory.

Rohach wouldn't survive the first half, getting pulled after six mostly unproductive drives for the Buffalo offense.

 

Tyree Jackson has good cause to be upbeat after this game

Jackson was, all things considered, very positive in his post-game interview following the loss. He took complete responsibility for the final two turnovers, but declared that this game wouldn't define the Bulls season

While some might deride the redshirt freshman for not being more 'down' following this loss -- on the whole he actually played quite well, and made great strides to winning the starting job if not outright doing so. He showed great poise in the pocket, made several on-the-money deep throws, and had some massive runs, including that very run that ended in tragedy in the closing minutes of the game.

Tonight was Jackson's first collegiate experience, and he made some typical mistakes: throwing into double coverage, throwing off his back foot, trying too hard to extend plays that were much more likely to end in heartbreak than anything. But in the end -- he goes 14-25 for 125 yards, and showed great promise.

Don't confuse his demeanor with not caring. I think it's quite the opposite, actually, as Jackson must be a leader to help pick this team up before they head to Nevada in two weeks.

 

Year No. 2 for Lance Leipold may be defined by the rushing attack, not passing

Leipold is known for a high-flying passing attack, but this team may only go as far as it's ground game takes it. Jordan Johnson had a 'quiet' 114-yard performance, and both quarterbacks showed their mobility, combining for 71 yards (which would be even higher if college statistics didn't count sacks against QB's) 

Jackson could evolve into quite the passer -- he has a cannon arm and a no-fear mentality -- but that same mentality is something that could hurt him and the team if he's asked to drop back 30 or 40 times a game, at least at this point in his development. 

 

Losing the sack battle to Albany is (somewhat) concerning

You shouldn't lose the battle in the trenches to an lower-division opponent, (Well, you shouldn't lose the game either...) and while Buffalo wasn't getting pushed around my any measure, it is concerning that Albany got three sacks to UB's two. 

Albany's defensive scheme was much more aggressive than Buffalo's, who seemed content to let the front four create much of their pressure on the quarterback. Overall, the defensive line got decent enough penetration to force quick throws, but little more.

But the offensive line may be the bigger concern. Even when Albany wasn't getting sacks, they continually forced Jackson out of the pocket, although we learned that Jackson can be quite dangerous in those situations. Both the 'back-foot' throws I mentioned earlier were the result of Albany's defensive pressure.

In the end, you have to win the battle in the trenches, and Buffalo simply didn't.

 

Secondary concerns

On paper, the Buffalo defense did it's job in the first half; the Danes were held to 29 yards through the air on 8-13 passing in the opening 30 minutes. But that total has a lot to do with Albany QB Neven Sussman, a man who had a 2 TD, 8 INT year a season ago, than the Bulls defense.

Bad passes by Sussman likely kept 14 points off the board for the Danes. Bulls safety Ryan Williamson was beat by a solid five yards by a Danes wideout in the first quarter, but the ball was thrown another five yards past the receiver. In the second, it was cornerback Cameron Lewis, the last guy back, beat by a good step and a half, only to bailed out by an underthrown ball.

The Danes did make Buffalo pay on their go-ahead touchdown drive, hitting consecutive passes for 24 and 35 yards -- but Sussman's final line was rather muted: 14-21 for 113 yards and two touchdown.

It's not that the defense, or the secondary in general, had a bad day. But good teams (read: MAC teams) are going to take advantage of those mistakes in ways Albany couldn't.

 

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