UB Spring Game Insight
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • April 17, 2011 @ 12:37am
Even though Mother Nature was hoity-toity in preventing the UB Spring Game from being played at UB Stadium, the annual Blue vs. White scrimmage shifted to the Ralph Wilson Fieldhouse. If you’re a numbers demon (I mean that in the nicest way possible), check out UB’s quick recap of the intrasquad game. How much could be gathered from White’s (the offense) 49-34 victory over Blue (the defense)?
—- The quarterback battle should be addressed first. Although Jerry Davis took the first reps under center, sophomore QB Alex Zordich made an impact first, hitting Fred Lee in stride on the second series for 40 yards. The former Cincy recruit added a 50 yard strike to Alex Neutz and a 65 yard scoring pass to Marcus Rivers, who absolutely torched Cortney Lester with an inside move.
Too frequently in 2010, Zordich would tuck and run, refusing to let plays develop; while this tendency may have been due to poor blocking or simply playing to his strengths, the sophomore looked more patient in the pocket under new offensive coordinator Alex Wood. Only one of Zordich’s two interceptions was his fault.
Regardless of Zordich’s progress, Coach Jeff Quinn reaffirmed his faith in starter Jerry Davis, citing some “soul-searching” from the QB after Davis lost his starting gig to Zordich mid-way through 2010. The soon-to-be junior Davis connected with Rivers (9 catches, 198 yards, 3 TDs)—far and away his favorite target—on two scores, including a 68 yard bomb with Lester trailing hopelessly behind again.
—- My first look at highly-touted redshirt freshman James Potts (5 carries, 27 yards) in action led to mixed reviews. He’s built a lot like fellow tailback Jeffvon Gill—they’re both lanky—but Gill has added some bulk (though his 219 lb. listing seems generous). Potts, despite a burst that makes Branden Oliver (9 carries, 18 yards, 1 TD) look woefully stagnant, is too lean and runs too high to hold up for more than 10 carries per game, at least at this stage in his career (think of Gill as a freshman).
Quinn confirmed that he’d “ride the hot hand” again in 2011, and his top three tailbacks entering the fall will be Oliver, Gill and Potts, not necessarily in that order. Quinn and new coordinator Alex Wood have implemented a power running game, moving slightly away from the short passing attack of 2010. For what it’s worth, Gill was the tailback in the Spring Game’s first series.
—- Josh Copeland, valuable because of his versatility (he’s a LB/safety hybrid) and experience (a fifth year senior in 2011), put on the team’s best defensive display, delivering several crunching hits and reacting quickly to plays. He mentioned that he wasn’t sure what position he’d play next season, although safety seems like the favorite at this point.
Since he’s one of the few remaining Bulls from the International Bowl team in ‘08, I asked what he’s learned from that success and how he’s adapted to a role as “sage” for a scarily young Bulls’ D. Copeland tabbed the International Bowl runners-up as “relentless,” noting how several games late in that season went down to the wire. With Winters, Akobundu, Shannon, Cook, Thomas and Lott departing, Copeland will be relied upon heavily in the fall.
—- Special teams, an area where the Bulls have struggled mightily, looked terrible again. Kicker A.J. Principe, the school’s all-time points leader, will graduate this May, and Peter Fardon’s 1-3 conversion rate on field goals in the Spring Game did little to bolster his claim to the job. Fardon missed from 47 and 49 but connected from 29. After the game, Quinn spoke highly of incoming scholarship kicker Patrick Clarke, and it sounds like the true freshman will have every opportunity to win the job against Pitt on September 3rd.
—- It was difficult to get a good read on Buffalo’s offensive line today, as the quarterbacks wore the no-tackle red jerseys and Buffalo’s defense—credited with three sacks—scaled back its pass-rushing schemes. Pat Wilson and Jeff Veinotte had shaky moments, while Maryvale High School alum Andre Davis saw considerable action with Josh Violanti and Matt Ostrowski nowhere to be found.