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Bulls poised to crunch Cardinals Saturday


UB 35, Stony Brook 7: What we learned

UB Bulls enter the field photo by Don Nieman

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

1)  It was a nerve-wracking five days for Alex Dennison, the Bulls’ reserve tight end who competed for the starting quarterback job one year ago.  Because Coach Jeff Quinn knew that Stony Brook’s defense was prepared to stop the run, he scripted a play on Monday that he’d use on the first offensive snap in today’s game against the Seawolves. 

Lining up in a heavy run formation, Chazz Anderson executed a play-action fake to perfection and hit Dennison wide-open streaking down the seam for a 57 yard touchdown. 

“Coach [Alex] Wood had a great plan for the first play.  He said, ‘The first play is going to be a touchdown, so you’d better be prepared to catch it and run.’  It was a great play fake by Chazz; you just have to trust him with the ball in his hands,” Dennison said.

“There’s nothing better than starting the game with one play and seven points on the board,” Quinn finished.

2)  The NCAA is making some bizarre rule changes, particularly in penalizing players for celebration before they’ve reached the end zone (the USC vs. Utah game poses a more bizarre example).  Khalil Mack, who held the ball out in celebration three yards before reaching the end zone on his interception return, was penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct, negating the touchdown. 

“I got over-excited.  It won’t happen again,” Mack, who was just chosen by College Football Performance Awards as the National Defensive Performer of the Week, said in the press conference.  “It hurt my teammates because unfortunately, we were penalized for it.”

“My man Khalil lost his brains for a moment,” Coach Jeff Quinn added.  “The officials said he brought attention to himself prior to entering the end zone.  Unfortunately, we get the ball right back and we throw a pick.”

When asked for his opinion on the rule change, Quinn said: “I think it’s a great rule—the [penalty] brings attention to an individual player and that’s not what this game is all about—it’s a team game.”

3)  Branden Oliver’s success on the ground was the main storyline Saturday night, as he ran for 126 total yards and scoring jaunts of 22, 49 and 43 yards.  He demonstrated burst and breakaway speed that was absent in his freshman season. 

“Bo has provided a great deal of focus and relentless effort in getting to where he is today,” Quinn explained.

Aided by interior blocking from freshmen Andre Davis, Dillon Guy and senior Graham Whinery, Oliver busted most of his big gainers up the middle. 

“We just listen to what the coaches call, Bo will find the hole,” Whinery told the media. “It’s nice to have a running back get some yards for us.”

As positive of a sign as Oliver’s performance is, it’s important to keep the achievement in context, as MAC defensive lines are much more stout than the Seawolves’ collection of 250-270 pound linemen.  The holes won’t be as gaping against Ball State on the road next week.

4) Over the summer, Oliver and Mack raced to determine which player was the fastest.  The winner? 

“We raced like five times in the summer, and one day I got tired of racing him because I kept beating him,” Oliver said with a laugh.  “He wanted me to get tired so he could get that one win to rub in my face.”  Under the watchful eye of Bulls’ strength and conditioning coach Zach Duval, Oliver trained wearing a 30 pound vest all summer.  No wonder he looks so shifty.

5) The Bulls play their first MAC game next Saturday at Ball State at 7 p.m.  In the meantime, though, Coach Jeff Quinn and the team will enjoy their first win.  “[It was] a great night for UB football and long overdue.  I told the players that we were going to end a streak and start a new one in front of the seventh largest crowd at UB Stadium (21,933),” Quinn said.

All photos by Don NiemanThe rest of his album can be found here.

TAGGED: branden oliver, jeff quinn, khalil mack, mac football, stony brook, ub bulls, university at buffalo

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