Paul Peck’s Bull Session: Massachusetts
Each week, Voice of Bulls Football Paul Peck will preview the upcoming game.
Buffalo vs. Massachusetts
The Bulls head to Foxboro, MA looking for a three game winning streak, their first since 2008's run of five wins in a row. You can see the confidence growing. I saw it against Western Michigan in plays that helped win the game: interceptions, takeaways, catches, big blocks, clutch punts, crucial kicks. That's how it works. A few of those things happen which leads to a win, which leads to confidence, which leads to more big plays which leads to more big wins. It's the growth of a football team right before our eyes.
Bullseye on: Buffalo Offense
Joe Licata will make his third straight start. He made big strides forward from start one vs. Miami to start two vs. Western Michigan. I would expect to see more strides this week, against a Massachusetts defense giving up 41 points and nearly 500 yards a game…When asked about the improvements he saw in his quarterback from game one to two, Jeff Quinn cited a "clarity of thinking." That means the game is slowing down for Licata…Bills fans may not like this, but Joe admits that Tom Brady is his favorite NFL quarterback and he's excited to play on the same field as the Patriots signal-caller…I was impressed when Joe, at the weekly media luncheon, cited Drew Willy as an inspiration to him. It's always good when the current players know the history of the program…Quinn offered up this tidbit about Licata: the Williamsville South product was the first recruit he visited upon getting the job in 2009. That came at the urging of Director of High School Relations Scott Pilkey, who told Quinn "you have to see this guy."…The Bulls are just 77 yards away from becoming the 6th UB team to rush for 2000 yards in a season…But we're not sure who might be gaining those yards. Both Branden Oliver and Devin Campbell are day-to-day with injuries suffered against Western Michigan. Brandon Murie will play a bigger role, and so will Alex Dennison, the Bulls blocker/catcher/runner/passer, tight end/fullback/running back/wildcat QB. The amount of slashes I just used should tell you how valuable #17 has been this season…Alex Neutz now has 10 touchdowns, just three shy of Naaman Roosevelt's school record….The Minutemen's defense is led by linebacker Perry McIntyre, who's 101 tackles rank 5th in the MAC….their defense keyed last week's first ever I-A win, with four interceptions…The UMass defense starts 5 freshman.
Bullseye on: Buffalo Defense
Need anymore proof that takeaways come in bunches? The Bulls had six in the first nine games. They had five against the Broncos. Cortney Lester is the first player in Buffalo I-A history to have three interceptions in a game…Khalil Mack's next tackle for loss will give him the school record for a career. Right now, he trails alltime leader Vince Canosa by a half TFL….Alex Carder threw for 275 yards, the most against the Bulls defense this season. But UB's pass defense still ranks 3rd in the MAC, and 33rd in the NCAA…Jake Stockman's sack and forced fumble was a huge play, and Jake was quick to praise Mack for occupying blockers that allowed it happen. I love that defensive coordinator Lou Tepper is taking advantage of the attention paid to Mack, and how it weakens an offense in other places….with 9 more tackles, Steve Means now has 19 in his last two games….speaking of Means, sideline reporter Nick Mendola showed me a picture taken well after the game ended. In it, Means by himself, was kneeling down on the midfield Bulls logo, deep in thought and emotion. Steve did not want to let go of his final game at U.B. Stadium….UMass' two key offense players are both fifth year transfers from big schools. Receiver Deion Walker comes from Notre Dame, running back Michael Cox from Michigan….Jeff Quinn should have a good feel for the Minutemen's offense. He and UMass head coach Charley Molnar spent six years together on the staffs at Central Michigan and Cincinnati. Quinn coordinated the running game, Molnar the passing attack.
Bullseye on: Gillette Stadium
As part of Massachusetts move up to Division I-A, they have moved their home games to Gillette Stadium, the home of the New England Patriots….it's one of the best and most unique stadiums in the country, and it should make for a great atmosphere on Saturday…it's the fifth NFL stadium the Bulls will have played in: Heinz Field (Pitt), Lincoln Financial Field (Temple), Ford Field (MAC Championship), Mall of America Field (Minnesota) and Rogers Centre (International Bowl)…with the Bills 0-11 against the Patriots in Gillette Stadium, the Bulls will have a chance to be the first Buffalo team to leave with a win.
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 2:00pm.