No sugar coating necessary: the UB Bulls were outplayed by a bigger, stronger, more prepared team. Four turnovers cost the Bulls 26 points, and before the offensive unit even got into a huddle on the UB Stadium turf, the scoreboard read 14-0 in favor of Pitt.That immediately changed Buffalo’s offensive strategy.
The turnover bug finally hit UB: you can’t expect your team to go +19 in turnover margin one year and not have it balance out eventually. There was going to be one game where Buffalo fell because of turnovers, and this may be that contest.
But against arguably the best defense it’ll face this season, UB showed some battle and rallied to prevent Pittsburgh from absolutely coasting in the second half. They were 13 yards away from making it a one possession game with five minutes to go.
Here are two notes:
– There is no doubt in my mind that Zach Maynard is going to wind up as the best quarterback in UB football history. Pittsburgh’s defense is no pushover, and Maynard found the throwing lanes, managed the game well, and maintained composure despite a substantial deficit early in the game.
In his second start, Maynard completed 24 of 35 passes for 400 yard and four touchdowns.
Maynard’s game management is top notch. He looked flustered and jittery on a couple Pittsburgh blitz packages, but for the most part he had a great feel of where his receivers and the defenders were. He delivered the ball with accuracy and let his receivers go to work in open space.
There won’t be many other defenses that challenge Maynard and this offensive line like Pitt’s exceptionally strong unit did, so I feel great about Maynard leading this offense in the future. If he can learn how to put some touch on deep passes, he will become a First-Team All-MAC QB before he graduates.
– There is no doubt that the defense – especially the defensive line – needs to go better, but at least the unit showed resiliency and held Pittsburgh’s offense in check in the second half. The defense pretty much opened up running lanes by itself in the first half, but the unit was only responsible for giving up one touchdown in the second half, and it was the 85-yard touchdown by Dion Lewis after UB’s offense was stopped deep in Pittsburgh territory down 13.
Scott Pettigrew, Buffalo’s middle linebacker, now combines with Justin Winters to give Buffalo a solid linebacking duo. In the second half, Pettigrew played with more aggression and had a nose for the football, making big stops on screen passes and runs. Buffalo will need a better effort from its defensive line before it can actually limit opposing teams’ running attacks, but having two solid linebackers will help this defense out.
The negatives of this game will come later.