Bulls’ Alex Neutz, Jeff Quinn speak before Ohio game - VIDEO
There's no reason to sugarcoat the UB Bulls' present situation: at 6-22 in Jeff Quinn's tenure, a 1-3 record this season and a road game Saturday against unbeaten Ohio, the Bulls' program is at a crossroads. Don't think new athletic director Danny White is comfortable with the direction of Buffalo's football team -- patience can be exhausted quickly.
A win at Ohio (noon Saturday on ESPN3 and ESPN Game Plan), who enters as a 16.5 point favorite, would turn the tide in the Bulls' uneven campaign. Promise against Georgia and a whopping of Morgan State were derailed by a thoroughly disappointing home loss to Kent State and a sloppy defeat against UConn. You may argue that Jeff Quinn's team has already lost a student fan-base that hasn't been steadily engaged since 2008 -- the International Bowl season -- and you may not be wrong, as the mass exodus in the third quarter of the Kent State game would back the claim.
Without the services of Branden Oliver, who's listed as doubtful with a leg injury -- and Neutz referred to Brandon Murie and Devin Campbell as workhorses -- the Bulls will struggle to post enough points to keep pace with the powerful Bobcats. As we covered in the video, the emergence of a second receiver to complement Neutz would be beneficial, as well as a renewed emphasis on targeting the tight ends, regardless of their no-show against Kent State.
From the video above -- thanks to UB Spectrum editor-in-chief and friend Aaron Mansfield for the invite -- the unquestioned highlight of last season was UB's 38-37 home win over Ohio, the eventual Mid-American Conference runners-up. Branden Oliver ran rampant -- totaling 170 yards and three scores -- and Ohio's defense proved vulnerable to big plays (see Ed Young's 90-yard score).
Another shootout could be in the cards this year, as Ohio's defense, which was less than fearsome to begin with, is down two key contributors in star corner Travis Carrie and defensive lineman Tremayne Scott. The Bobcats conceded 34 points to win-less UMass last weekend, a scare that exposed Coach Frank Solich's weaknesses on both sides of the ball.
Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton (nine TDs, zero INTs) and running back Beau Blankenship form a more balanced tandem than last year's iteration, but there's concern hovering around the Bobcats' prized passer, who missed the Norfolk State contest with an "undisclosed abdomen injury" and looked less than 100% against UMass. Blankenship picked up the slack, however, churning out 269 yards on 43 carries -- and three TDs -- in the nail-biter victory. Tettleton is fully expected to play, but can he be effective?
As the current betting line indicates, the Bulls are not expected to win -- or even come close -- in Athens. No Bo Oliver and the improving health of Tettleton is a serious worry for Bulls fans who are running low on patience.
(Special thanks to Matt Damiano and the rest of UB TV for a meticulous job shooting and editing the segment. Stay tuned for weekly shows hosted by Mansfield as the season progresses.)