Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Blog Swap with Bull Run

Bull Run is a long-standing MAC Blog that lives over on SB Nation.  We have a long-standing blog-swapping tradition with them...they have a full team approach now and produce high quality content on the Bulls.  So, we have taken the opportunity to swap some questions with them...over the years, there have been an unusual number of "situations," between us, including the onside-kick-Gregg-Brandon-rips-fans game, the Dan-Dakich-walk-off-the-court game, the Stone-McCrea-flareup game, and last year's battle for the MAC East.

And, based on the defenses included, we are in for some go ol' #MACtion Saturday.

I posed some questions to David Brand of Bull Run.  Here is how he answered.

1. What's the state of the program right now? With Quinn? How are you feeling about this year--2 FCS games, losing to Army? How much do we know about the Bulls?

The fan base knows very little about this team. Many expected the Miami game to be closer than one believes a team with twenty straight loses playing on the road for a homecoming game to be. The Bulls were dominant is all aspects of the game except the score board. The Bulls have really struggled with special teams. Clarke the kicker has missed field goals and having issues with extra points. The return game on punts is non-existent this year. For as good as the offense is this year, the defense has struggled.

The fan base is waiting to see what happens with this team. This is a real big test for Quinn and the Bulls. The Bulls failed to answer the bell last year especially the loss to Bowling Green. Here is an article that I wrote on Quinn Can Quinn coach the Bulls to a victory over a evenly matched team? I refuse to discuss Army and will not ask you about Western Kentucky.

2. Obviously, last year's team lost a big-time RB in Oliver. You had seen a little of Anthone Taylor, but he has been pretty productive. Did you expect what you are getting from him? What kind of runner is he?

Anthone Taylor every week is getting stronger and stronger. Very little was expected after losing Buffalo’s all time running back. Buffalo has gone from Starks (Green Bay) to Oliver (San Diego) to now Taylor. I am going to sound like a coach or running back right now, but much of the credit has to be given to the offensive line. This is a line that has five returning starters from last season. The only person that will have a chance of NFL scout eyes is Andre Davis. #37 MAC Player Andre Davis Taylor every week has become more patient and allowing the holes to develop. He is a larger Bo Oliver. He can run you over or run around you. The Bulls are without sophomore Jordon Johnson with a knee injury against Norfolk. Johnson looked more explosive and many in the fan base were asking for Johnson to be the feature back. All Taylor did last week against Miami is rush for 222 yards (27 yards shy of UB’s record set by Oliver) and three touchdowns. Taylor last week was the best player by far on the field.

3. Licata is having a really nice season. He's 2nd in the MAC so far in passing efficiency. Are you surprised at the progress he's made? What's changed?

Not surprised at all. Licata is only a Junior but feels like he has been in Amherst for a decade. Licata is a very smart quarterback who loves to compete. Licata does not have the rocket arm but what Licata can do is pick you apart. As much as fans were concerned of losing Oliver, many more worried about losing Fred Lee and Alex Neutz to graduation. The fans have been pleasantly surprised at three WR’s who have stepped up and all made big plays. The three headed tandem is Ron Willoughby, Devon Hughes, and the best surprise is red shirt freshman Jacob Martinez. All three can get open and run after the catch. Licata also has two solid TE’s in Matt Weiser and Mason Schreck who can block for the running game but also catch balls and move the chains. Weiser had a beautiful 31 yard TD last week against Miami. This is where I am too excited for a Tuesday for a MAC game on Saturday. Buffalo can and will throw the ball all over the field and this could be the most entertaining game of the weekend if you are in to offense.

4. So, we're interested in pass defenses all of a sudden. UB is allowing less than 50% completions but over 19 yards a reception and no INT's. That 19 yards a reception is worst in the MAC by 6 yards and worst in the nation by about 4 yards. What's going on with the Bull pass defense?

You saw how excited I was over the offense; well, now you force me to talk about defense. The pass defense has struggled and is the Achilles heel for this Bulls team. The lack of depth was so thin that Buffalo converted who many to believe the next best WR Boise Ross to defensive back. To Ross’s credit you saw his game getting stronger especially as the Miami game rolled on. The Bulls also have very little in the way of a pass rush. The Linebackers who made so many plays last year are not at the same level. Last year so many teams worrying about Mack allowed other players free to make plays. Bowling Green will move the ball through the air on the Bulls. The weather looks to be 70 and not a cloud in the sky. This has MAC shoot out written all this game.

5. Where do you see this one going? No one is out in the East race...do you think the Bulls can go on the road and get this one.

The Bulls can go on the road an absolutely win this game. The Bulls team can also let you score 100. The Bulls offense is more potent than Umass but we struggle to stop anyone. The team who scores last is going to be the winner of this game. This game goes a very long way to deciding a wide open MAC East. No one expected UMass to step up in compete this year like they have. I have no clue what is happening at Kent. Miami has leveraged much of their future with older Notre Dame transferees but understand the pressure to win now. Miami will shock a team or two this year. Watch out for Akron and look at Ohio always staying tough and in the mix. To see the Bulls prediction and break down of this game live, be sure to tune into Last Bull In video podcast joined by your very own BJ Fischer. The boys at Bull Run along with BJ will break down the key match ups, highlight key players, and provide you with our very own predications. Show is live Wed. night at 11:30 PM and a taped version will be on website afterwards as well.

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