by Paul Peck, Buffalo Sports Page
Each week, Voice of Bulls Football Paul Peck will preview the upcoming game.
Buffalo (8-1, 5-0 MAC) vs. Kent State (2-7, 1-4 MAC)
Even though there will be three (and maybe four) more games left afterwards, Tuesday is the home finale for the Bulls. That means it’s Senior Day, as 19 Bulls will play for the final time in Buffalo. That group of players includes big names like Anthony Johnson, Khalil Hodge, Chuck Harris, James O’Hagan and Cam Lewis. Those five will go down as some of the best players in school history.
But for all 19 seniors, their legacy will be something that will live on for a long time. For many of those seniors, they were the first players recruited by Lance Leipold and his staff. They bought into a new coach with a new vision, and a history of winning. Some of the players were here before the coaching change and had to accept and buy into a big change.
But throughout their time, this class of players helped lead the way through the struggles of 2016 and the frustrations of 2017. Now, they’re getting the payoff of 2018.
Bull Session Trivia: Bulls kicker Adam Mitcheson broke A.J. Principe’s school record with his 45th field goal. While Adam and A.J. are considered the two best kickers in UB history, neither holds the record for the longest field goal in school history. What kicker holds that record?
Bullseye On: Buffalo Offense
After Anthony Johnson set the school record with 238 yards receiving against Miami, Leipold was asked what allowed that to happen. Coach’s answer was perfect: “He’s A.J.” A healthy Johnson is one of the best receivers in the country, and now that he is healthy, he’s showing it. Despite missing nearly three games, Johnson is tied for first in the MAC in TD catches and second in receiving yards. A.J. now has 22 career TD catches in just 20 games…The Bulls have scored 12 touchdowns of 30 yards or more…Tight end Tyler Mabry has become a much bigger part of the offense, as Tyree Jackson is seeing the whole field. Mabry has 10 catches in his last two games…Jackson’s 23 TD passes this year are one away from 3rd place on the UB single season list, and his next TD toss will move him into 3rd on the career list…In his last 12 games (a full season), Tyree has thrown 32 touchdown passes. He’s second in the MAC in TD passes, and 9th in the NCAA…But he’s become so much more dangerous now that he’s running again. In the last four games, Tyree has run 31 times for 84 yards and 5 TD…Jaret Patterson made his first start against Miami, as Kevin Marks battled an ankle injury. J-Patt’s 96 yards gives him 398 yards rushing in the last four games. He’s moved into the MAC’s top ten, at #9. Marks is #8…The Bulls offense ranks no lower than fifth in any of the MAC’s major offensive statistical categories…On the opposite, Kent State’s defense is 11th in points allowed, 11th in yardage allowed 7th in rushing and 12th in passing…They do rush the passer well. Their 21 sacks put them 5th. Those sacks have come from 13 different players…The Flashes most disruptive player may be 322-pound nose tackle Kalil Morris. He’s had 31 tackles in the last six games, to go along with two sacks on the season…The Flashes play a 3-4 defense. Army is the only other UB opponent to use that formation, but this style of 3-4 is much different…The two inside linebackers are the big playmakers. Matt Bahr is tied for the team lead in tackles. Dalton Hicks started last week against Bowling Green and had 14 tackles…Starting cornerback Keith Sherald is the co-leader in tackles…Converted cornerback Jamal Parker starts at safety, and leads the team in interceptions…The best part of the Flashes defense is red zone. They are second in the MAC, and Kent State has forced 7 red zone turnovers.
Bullet Points: 3. Tyree Jackson had three touchdowns running and three touchdown passes against Miami. He’s just the second NCAA player this season to do that in a single game. UCF’s McKenzie Milton did it earlier this season.
Bullseye On: Buffalo Defense
The Bulls will face a major first half challenge because Khalil Hodge’s targeting penalty will keep him on the bench for the opening 30 minutes. As for the call, Leipold said on the UB Insider radio show that the MAC office told him the call was “close” but they did not overrule the original determination. Matt Otwinowski will make his first career start at MLB…Hodge’s 11 tackles in the game moved him to 387 in his career and 111 on the season. He’s the first Bulls player to have three straight 100 tackle seasons. Only three others (Davonte Shannon, Craig Guest, Mike Laipple) have ever had 400 career stops…Between Jordan Collier and Kadofi Wright, the Bulls defense got 11 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble out of that outside linebacker position. Wright’s sack and forced fumble with 2:24 left was the play of the game for the defense…The Bulls depth on defense was once again on display. Tyrone Hill, in for Joey Banks, had a career-high seven tackles. Wankieth Akin, in for Aapri Washington, had a career-high four tackles…The Bulls defense remains #1 in the MAC in yards allowed, and second in points allowed and third downs…Kent State’s offense is much different than anything Bulls fans have seen. With new head coach Sean Lewis being a Dino Babers disciple, the Flash Fast offense looks a lot like Baylor, Bowling Green and Syracuse. The Flashes average 77 plays per game. They will run plays quickly, and that will test the Buffalo defense…New starting quarterback Woody Barrett began his career at Auburn, before attending a junior college. He’s built like a linebacker at 236 pounds. Barrett is the team’s #2 rusher with 455 yards, and he’s averaged 78 yards rushing the last three games. He ranks as the MAC’s 6th leading passer, but is second in total offense…Leading rusher Justin Rankin missed last week’s game with a concussion. His replacement, Jo-El Shaw, ran for 128 yards vs. Bowling Green. Rankin is the MAC’s 5th leading rusher…The Flashes leading receiver is freshman Isaiah McKoy. 29 of his 39 catches have come in the last five games…Kent State’s offense line has been banged up. Starting right tackle Mike Marinelli may not play. They do not list a starting offensive lineman over 300 pounds, unusual for today’s style of lineman. Kent State has allowed the most sacks in the MAC.
Bullseye On: Winning With Leipold
The victory over Miami was Leipold’s 21st as Bulls head coach. It’s the most wins by a Bulls coach in the FBS era. Turner Gill and Jeff Quinn both won 20 games. Leipold’s 21 wins came in 45 games. That’s the second fastest of any UB coach. Only Dick Offenhamer, who won 58 games from 1955-1965, did it faster.
Bull Session Trivia Answer: Gerald Carlson kicked a 54-yard field goal in 1996, during the Bulls 8-3 I-AA season. It was one of Carlson’s three field goals of 50 yards or more.
Please join me, color analyst Scott Wilson, game host Brad Riter and postgame host Bob Gaughan for the broadcast on the Bulls Football Network. Our pregame show starts at 6:30pm. You can hear it in Buffalo on ESPN 1520 and in Rochester on Fox Sports 1280. A link to the online broadcast is also available here and on the Tune In app.