Thursday, November 20, 2008

Twenty Five Questions that Roam

What is their body of work this season?

Its pretty good. They are 6-4, but their losses (@Pitt, @Missouri, @CMU, WMU in OT) are all losses to good teams.

What is their best result this season?

Of course, none of their wins are real big either. They've sort of won what they should (unlike the Falcons). The Temple and Akron wins were real nail biters--and Temple would even qualify as a miracle. Obviously, the Akron win was the biggest win of the season, and it came on the road.

What is their worst result this season?

Going to overtime with Army.

What is the turnover margin?

They lead the MAC at +13. That is 22 against 9. This is a clear strength for their team.


How is their QB play?

Very solid. Drew Willy is a senior and 5th in the MAC in pass efficiency, aided by an 18/4 ratio. On the plus side for us, he is primarily a drop back passer and has not been a threat to run. They have been using a true freshmen option QB in some packages, though he fumbled against Akron.

What is their yard per play?

5.5 yards per play, which is 6th in the MAC. They are a solid offensive team, but they are no CMU/BSU/WMU.

Can they run the ball?

4.0/carry is 8th in the conference. I found this surprising because their RB, James Stark, has 1,000 yards this season (in eight games) and averages over 5 yards a carry, and has most of their carries. They give up a lot of sacks, which counts against their rushing stats. Stopping Starks has to be a priority.

Do they pass the ball.

As mentioned, Willy is 6th in the MAC. They have a run-rich play mix, but can throw the ball. Naam Roosevelt is a legit star and has caught 8 TD passes. You certainly cannot sell out to the run on this team.

Are they high efficiency or big play?

They probably skew a little downfield. Their 7.2 yards per attempt is what you would see from NIU and Akron, and BG's is 6.5, for comparison.

Do they convert on 3rd Down.

Another very solid aspect...they are third in the MAC at 46.7%.
They also go for it on 4th a lot.

Do they score in the red zone?

4.4 points per red zone trip is pretty typical. They have only thrown 4 interceptions all year, and three were in the red zone.

Do they protect the quarterback?

No, this is perhaps their weakest point. They have given up 22 sacks, which is 10th in the conference, and they are not particulary "pass happy."

This is a good to very good offensive team, without many weaknesses. They are multi-dimensional and move the chains on third down. We will need a strong defensive game to compete.


Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

You can move the ball on them. They are 10th in the MAC in yards per play allowed, which is over 6.0. They are only 7th in scoring defense, thanks, I would guess, to all the turnovers.

Do they defend the run effectively?

You have to look a little deeper on this one. They are 4th in the MAC in rushing yards per game. However, only Miami and Eastern allow more yards per rush than Buffalo does (4.6). As comparison, the maligned Falcon run defense allows 4.4. That's because teams don't run on them very much (315 times in 10 games) and the lowest number of attempts against of any team with 10 games played in the conference.

Can they be passed on?

I think you can guess where we are going here. They give up the MAC's highest completion rate (65.9%), although 7.2 yards per attempt is about the middle of the pack. They average giving up 253 passing yards per game. Now, that's inflated because they played CMU and WMU, and lots of teams didn't. They also played Army.

Do they get off the field on 3rd down?

Nope. They are 10th in this category, one spot behind Bowling Green.

Do they defend in the red zone?

Yeah, they are pretty good. 4.1 points per red zone attempt is pretty strong, and they have 10 outright stops, four of them on downs.

Do they pressure the QB?

Not a strong point. 8 sacks is tied for last in the MAC.

Special Teams:


This is a clear weakness, they are 12th in net punting.

Punt Return?

They have returned only six punts all season, but when they do, its over 13 per attempt and third in the MAC.


They are in the middle of the pack at 10 of 14 in field goals. They are not a long distance kicking team--they are 1-4 from beyond 40, and 40 is the long for the season.


They are in the middle of the pack here, as well.

Kickoff Return?

Also not good. They are 12th in the MAC in kickoff returns. They do have 1 TD.

Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

  • We have a long break, which should be an advantage. And we are at home.
  • Buffalo has played us really tough, even back before their renaissance.
  • They are playing for the title, whereas we have one more meaningful game.
  • Are they really hungry? I fear they are.
  • BG has a nice break to rest out and prepare, and has some seniors who don't want to leave on a losing note.
This is as good a team as we have played since NIU. Their special teams won't hurt us, but if we give their offense turnovers to work with, they will beat us. We will need to contain Starks and Roosevelt, and (I believe most of all) execute on offense against a defense that can be moved. The game may end up being a shoot-out, and our offense simply has to show up in order for us to win.

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