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COASTAL FUMBLES THE BALL, BUT UB FUMBLES THE WIN: BULLS 0-3
And yet—let's not write the Bulls' obituary yet. Plus: Hudgens out? Also: EMU, BGSU shockers!
Image from sportstalksc.com
At the beginning of the Battle at Verdun, the French waited helplessly in their fortress as German artillery mowed down the ancient forest in front of them.
The gunners were finding their range; when they finally did, the results were brutal:
On the morning of February 21 the German artillery opened up a fire of infernal intensity. This artillery had been brought up in undreamed-of quantities. French aviators who flew over the enemy positions located so many batteries that they gave up marking them on their maps; the number was too great. The forest of Grémilly, northeast of the point of attack, was just a great cloud shot through with lightning-flashes. A deluge of shells fell on the French positions, annihilating the first line, attacking the batteries and attempting to silence them, and finding their mark as far back as the city of Verdun. At five o’clock in the afternoon the first waves of infantry went forward to the assault and carried the advanced French positions in the woods of Haumont and Caures. On the 22d the French left was driven backwards for a distance of about four kilometres.
Why the history lesson?
The University at Buffalo football team’s 38-26 loss to Coastal Carolina, which dropped the team to 0-3 this season and 4-11 in the Maurice Linguist era, can be viewed as a miss.
Or, perhaps by peering beyond the shattered forest, it may look like the calibration of their weapons.
Look, It Wasn’t Great.
Image from ubbulls.com
Real talk: quarterback Cole Snyder had a shaky game.
So did his offensive line, and every running back not named Mike Washington.
Explosive plays burned this defense yet again. If the Hail Mary from last week’s Holy Cross game will be etched into memory for a while, so will Saturday’s third-and-17.
The Bulls surrendered 13(!) run plays 10+ yards or pass plays 20+ yards. Last season, UB was 126th in Division 1 football in plays of 10 or more yards surrendered. So far this season, they’re 123rd.
"If we didn't play very well defensively, it would have been a blowout in the first half, the way offensively we played," Coastal Carolina head coach Jamey Chadwell said after the win. "(Buffalo) kept us in the game until we got the spark there in the fourth quarter."
Let’s Wallow for a Moment
Image from hustlebelt.com
If we want, we can dwell on the failures. There are equal opportunity meltdowns splashed across the game film.
There was the flea flicker-turned-interception on the first play following Coastal Carolina’s fourth fumble. This turnover gave the Chants a first down on the Buffalo 10 yard line. C.J. Beasley scored on the next play. Suddenly, CCU was up, 14-9, despite, well, fumbling four times.
There was punter Jackson Baltar’s fumble early in the fourth quarter, leading to a scoop and score by Coastal’s Jahmar Brown. The touchdown gave the Chanticleers a 24-19 lead and the inside track to victory. Empathy for Baltar, but this was a cannot-happen blunder.
Snyder’s second interception of the game came on the very next play. Coastal cashed in another touchdown, building an insurmountable two-score advantage.
And, of course, there was the third-and-17 play at 3:03 of the fourth quarter. The Chanticleers were pinned back by a timely holding call on lineman Zovon Lindsay, and UB—down 31-26—was poised to start a game-deciding drive with a stop. There was no stop. Quarterback Grayson McCall dumped a screen pass to Beasley, he broke off a clean 59-yard touchdown run with barely a hand on his jersey, and that was the ballgame.
“That,” Snyder told Rachel Lenzi of The Buffalo News, “is not how anybody wants to start a season.”
Image from mdjonline.com
Buffalo was out-gained, 504 yards to 337. As a point of comparison, 504 yards per game would put Coastal Carolina among the top 20 offenses in the country.
On the flip side, 337 yards is what UConn—one of the worst teams in Division 1 football—ekes out per game with its 104th-ranked offense.
Allowing 504 yards per contest would rank the Bulls among the worst six defenses in the country—four of which (Ball State, Central Michigan, Ohio, and Bowling Green) are their Mid-American Conference compadres.
Which, incidentally, is why there’s still promise this season.
Seriously, There’s Hope for UB
Image from timesobserver.com
Obviously, 0-3 is not ideal.
The offense runs like the Ford I totaled when I was 17 (just outside Cole Snyder’s hometown of Lakewood, New York!). For reasons unknown, it would randomly stall.
The defense looks great, except when surrendering lightning-strike, game-changing touchdowns.
Punting is an issue.
Despite these problems, wide receiver Quian Williams (eight catches, 62 yards, one touchdown) was not wrong when he considered the road ahead:
Fortunately, we start MAC play next week. Everything is right in front of us that we set out to do. Win MAC championships. Win bowl championships. The road to the MAC championship starts next Saturday. We’re still right where we want to be. I’m in high hopes. I’m extremely confident in what we have in front of us.
Have you ever managed a team? Think, for a moment, about onboarding one new employee into your workplace.
UB head coach Maurice Linguist is onboarding a new defensive coordinator, almost entirely new offensive personnel, and a new secondary.
It was unrealistic, in retrospect, not to anticipate bumps in the road.
Image from actionnetwork.com
Flashes of Bulls Brilliance?
Consider, for a moment, the good.
Faith in the QB: For all his issues—including three turnovers and five sacks taken—Snyder threw for 264 yards, two touchdowns, and was a third-and-17 defensive stop from a chance to lead Buffalo to a win. His touchdown drives came in absolute prove-it moments.
Touchdown One: The first was a 1:34 drive that began with just over two minutes remaining in second quarter and culminated in a beautiful, back-shoulder pass to Justin Marshall with less than 40 seconds in the half. The Bulls took a 16-14 lead to the locker room.
Touchdown Two: His second touchdown pass came on a fourth quarter drive following his costly second interception. Rather than crumbling, Snyder led a 17-play scoring campaign to cut the Coastal lead to five points. The offense converted four third downs (including Snyder passes on third-and-10 and third-and-14) and two fourth downs, including a fourth-and-goal arrow to Williams from the eight-yard line. Snyder has a little iron in his gut.
A Star Ascending: Justin Marshall (pictured above, with ball) continues to impress with next-level playmaking ability. Following his two-touchdown performance against Holy Cross, Marshall—a Louisville transfer—caught eight balls for 88 yards and a touchdown. Marshall is still finding chemistry with Snyder. Once they’re fully acclimated, things will get very interesting.
Bring in the Hammer: Who doesn’t love watching Mike Washington run over defenders? The 6’2, 215-pound running back posted 59 yards on 15 carries. That’s essentially four yards per carry, and the average was skewed by third- and fourth-and-short dives in the third quarter (he got the first down). Take away those runs and he had 4.4 yards per carry, respectable on a day when the team only netted 59 total rushing yards and lost 65 rushing yards (which, of course, includes Snyder’s sacks).
Never Give Up: Graduate transfer Jah Muse only recorded three tackles from his safety position, but one was a bone-cruncher—his first-quarter shoulder pop stood up wide receiver Sam Pinckney—and one prevented a Beasley touchdown, the second time of the day Muse kept the Chants’ back off the board. The other save came in the first quarter when Muse chased Beasley 67 yards and forced, then recovered, a fumble. The former Boston College defensive back also broke up an intended McCall pass.
Long-Range Bomber: Saturday was the first time I’ve heard UB kicker Alex McNulty mentioned as an NFL prospect. There’s no denying the senior from Rochester, N.Y. suburb Caledonia was money. After booting the opening kickoff out of bounds, McNulty responded by drilling field goals from 36, 47, 42, and 26 yards. He was two-for-two on extra points. Every kickoff after the initial gaffe was a touchback.
Image from ubbulls.com
The MAC: Not Good.
That helps the Bulls. Buffalo’s eight upcoming conference opponents have an average ESPN Football Power Index ranking of 108th (the Bulls are 109th). To use a Maurice Linguist term, if we refuse to be prisoners of the moment, UB has a solid chance in each of its next nine games (there’s a non-conference game against dreadful UMass in there, as well). A 6-3 finish is plausible.
Eastern Michigan? They took out Arizona State last night (see below), but fans of the Sun Devils are not particularly keen on the direction Herm Edwards is taking that program. Miami? They’re playing without quarterback Brett Gabbert, and lost by as many points to Cincinnati yesterday (see more below) as Buffalo when losing to Maryland. Bowling Green? Impressive win over Marshall, to be sure, but they’re a one-dimensional squad which, like the Bulls, has an FCS loss on its resume.
Look, UB’s been playing with house money this month. They’ve squandered all of it. But—even the most cynical doubter cannot deny flashes of what can be.
Will it all come together next week?
The week after?
We don’t know, but we are confident it will.
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Miscellaneous Postgame Notes
Image from ubbulls.com
Hudgens Gone? After starting Week One in a homecoming game against Maryland, cornerback Logic Hudgens (pictured above)—whom defensive coordinator Brandon Bailey singled out for praise this offseason—may be off the team. Nice reporting from Rachel Lenzi on this turn of events:
UB cornerback Elijah Blades did not participate in pregame warmups. He was on the sideline with a walking boot/splint on his left leg. Cornerback Logic Hudgens did not travel to Coastal Carolina this weekend. When asked by the News if Hudgens was still on the team or had entered the transfer portal, Linguist said Hudgens did not travel with the team and “we're working on some things internally to find the next move.”
The Ugliness: It’s been a bad calendar year for UB football victory parties. “Following defeats at Maryland to start the season, and on a Hail Mary pass against FCS foe Holy Cross in last weekend’s home opener, UB has lost seven games in a row dating to 2021,” writes Jonah Bronstein of WIVB.com. “It is the program’s longest winless stretch in 11 years. UB last opened a season with three consecutive losses in 2005, part of a nine-game skid on the way to a 1-10 finish in the program’s last year under coach Jim Hofher.” Things are not going well when you’re getting compared to the Jim Hofher.
Next up: Are you ready for some Eastern Michigan football? Buffalo better be. The Eagles (2-1) just went on the road and kicked Arizona State (1-2) right in the butt in a shocking 30-21 win. While the Sun Devils are expected to finish in the bottom half of the PAC-12, they’re coming off an 8-5 season that ended in a Las Vegas Bowl appearance, falling 20-13 to Wisconsin. EMU’s Samson Evans ran for 257 yards on 34 carries and his team, 20.5-point underdogs, never trailed.
Big MAC Attack, Week 3
Image from detroitnews.com
A couple legit stunners! Otherwise, the non-conference beatings continued. It’s been a tough September for the MAC.
#3 Ohio State 77, Toledo 17. Stunning in the sense that the Buckeyes never called off the dogs. "It's hard to respond," Toledo head coach Jason Candle said after the game. "Some guys have never been beat like that in their lives, including me."
#15 Tennessee 63, Akron 6. You know the Zips (1-2) have it rough when we’re feeling sympathy for them (UB is 0-3!). Nice to see quarterback D.J. Irons return from his injury last week and throw for 241 yards on 44 attempts.
#23 Pittsburgh 34, Western Michigan 13. After the Broncos (1-2) shocked Pitt at Heinz Field (now Acrisure Stadium) last season, the Panthers came to Kalamazoo and…well, this wasn’t exactly shocking, but they gave their hosts a thorough beating. Freshman WMU quarterback Jack Salopek, a native of the Pittsburgh suburbs, had a game to forget—six-for-18, 99 passing yards, three interceptions.
Cincinnati 38, Miami 17. The RedHawks (1-2) took a narrow 24-17 deficit to halftime, but a complete inability to get anything going on offense—one-for-11 on third downs, 183 total yards (183!)—doomed them to defeat. Miami quarterback Aveon Smith was nine-for-20 on pass attempts, collecting 116 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception.
Kent State 63, Long Island University 10. LIU is one of the worst FCS teams in the country. The Golden Flashes (1-2), who were thrashed by Washington and #6 Oklahoma to start the season, deserved this one. KSU faces #1 Georgia next week.
Central Michigan 41, Bucknell 0. Like Kent State, CMU (1-2) deserved a cupcake after losing to #8 Oklahoma State in Week One and falling into the Sun Belt upset machine with a 38-24 loss to South Alabama last week. Running back Lew Nichols III bounced back from his 20-yard rushing performance last week with 166 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries.
Iowa State 43, Ohio 10. A week after taking out in-state rival Iowa, the Bobcats (1-2) became the latest feather in Matt Campbell and his undefeated Cyclones’ caps. ISU held Ohio to 233 yards offense while OU quarterback Kurtis Rourke completed 20 passes for 194 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions.
Ball State 31, Murray State 10. The Cardinals (1-2) put a notch in the win column via their FCS guests. John Paddock threw for 277 yards and three touchdowns. Carson Steele ran for 144 yards and a score.
Vanderbilt 38, Northern Illinois 24. The year of Vandy! After falling behind 28-14, the 3-1 Commodores stormed back to muzzle the Huskies (1-2). The worst news for NIU, however, may have been the unspecified injury sustained by quarterback Rocky Lombardi, who left the game in the second quarter after completing his first seven passes and throwing a touchdown. He did not return.
Bowling Green 34, Marshall 31 (OT). Bowling Green! A week after losing in OT to FCS Eastern Kentucky, BSGU (1-2) stormed back and took out America’s Notre Dame-defeating darling. Matt McDonald threw for 288 yards and two touchdowns while the Falcons’ defense recorded four sacks and seven tackles for loss.
Eastern Michigan 30, Arizona State 21. A nice one for head coach Chris Creighton and co., whose Eagles (2-1) have secretly been one of the more consistently competent teams in the MAC for the past few seasons. EMU scored on four of its first five possessions.
UP NEXT: Let’s hear what Coach Mo has to say, and the EMU preview
It’s MACtion time, everyone. It’s about to get real. Horns up.
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