Paul Peck’s Bull Session: Miami
Buffalo vs. Miami
The RedHawks (4-4) are a very good team, and they've beaten the Bulls two years in a row. But for the first time since Morgan State, the Bulls are not playing a BCS team or one of the best teams in the MAC. The combined record of UB's first eight opponents is 48-19. The record of their final four opponents is 13-21. In their first four MAC games, the Bulls opponents (Kent State, Ohio, Northern Illinois, Toledo) have a combined conference record of 18-1.
Bullseye on: Buffalo Offense
Thursday's news from Jeff Quinn means that Joe Licata will make his first collegiate start, replacing the injured Alex Zordich. Licata practiced with the first team all week, which means the change in the offense won't be too dramatic. Licata does not run like Zordich, so that element of the offense will be replaced by more of what Licata does well, which is pass the ball…But the run will still be a big part of the offense. Branden Oliver jumped right back into the game plan with the 11th 100-yard game of his career. That's just two shy of Anthony Swan's school record…I didn't notice any lack of burst, speed or cutting ability from Bo….Miami will likely be missing both starting defensive tackles, so look for Oliver to test the middle…Licata's touchdown toss to Alex Neutz was the 8th of the season for the junior wideout. Only Naaman Roosevelt has had more in I-A…Miami's defense has struggled this season. They are allowing 495 yards per game, and they give up 233 yards per game on the ground…The RedHawks have allowed 30 or more points in five of their eight games…Miami's key players are linebacker Pat Hinkel, cornerback Dayonne Nunley and linebacker Chris Wade. Wade is second in the MAC in tackles…Bulls quarterbacks have only been sacked 15 times. Miami has just 12 sacks all season, but six of them came in last week's win over Ohio.
Bullseye on: Buffalo Defense
The Bulls pass defense is now third in the MAC, and 20th in the country…No opposing quarterback has thrown for more than 258 yards…But Zac Dysert will test that. The Miami senior averages 278 per game…He is just 75 yards away from breaking Ben Roethlisberger's school record for career passing yards…So that strength-on-strength matchup is where this game may be decided…The RedHawks struggle to run the ball, averaging just 92 yards per game…One of their top two runners is Spencer Treadwell, the son of the head coach…I continue to be impressed by the hitting ability of safety Derek Brim. The former walk-on from Buffalo has started the last two games, and totaled 16 tackles. Director of Athletic Communications Jon Fuller has nicknamed him the "Brim Reaper." I like that. I may steal that during the game broadcast…but the biggest hit of the Toledo game came from Najja Johnson. He perfectly read a screen to Rockets star wideout Bernard Reedy and nailed him with a perfect form tackle. Reedy was never the same player again….Jeff Quinn said Toledo coach Matt Campbell said the Bulls were the hardest hitting team they faced all season…Miami receiver Nick Harwell has really hurt the Bulls the past two years. He has 14 catches and 2 TD against the Bulls…I am anxious to see more of safety Adam Redden. He is playing more in obvious passing downs, and against Toledo, had his first career interception.
Bullseye on: The Stretch Run
Jeff Quinn and the players only focus one week ahead. I can break that rule and look at the schedule for the final four weeks. They are all tough opponents (Miami, Western Michigan, Massachusetts, Bowling Green) but they are not the elite of the MAC like we've just seen. If the Bulls play as well as they did in three of their four previous MAC tilts, they will be in position to make more of the plays that count and the plays that give teams the chance to win games. If one wins comes I believe more will follow. This Bulls team just needs some confidence and belief. Once that happens, winning games and winning seasons will follow.
Please join me, color analyst Jim Kubiak, sideline reporter Nick Mendola and host Scott Wilson for the broadcast on the Bulls Football Network. Our pregame show starts at 11:00am.