What more can redshirt senior Adam DiMichele do?
The Owls’ leader was superb, throwing for 285 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for another 58 yards on 12 carries. When the game was on the line, DiMichele calmly led the team down the field, throwing what should have been the game-winning touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Bruce Francis with 38 seconds remaining.
He also picked up a key fourth down on that drive, taking the ball himself and running for the first down. In all, the team captain played superbly.
Redshirt freshman Joe Jones and sophomore Marquise Liverpool combined to get just 13 carries in the contest, a clear sign that the Owls are a passing team.
The duo ran for 52 yards on those carries, but neither proved to be capable of getting the Owls into the endzone when the team had four chances from the 1-yard line in the first quarter.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Francis led the way by catching five balls for 87 yards and two touchdowns, while junior Dy’Onne Crudup added five catches for 41 yards and a touchdown.
This group was solid, and open, as DiMichele was consistently able to hit his first read on most plays. When that man wasn’t open, he looked for the reliable Francis, who made a number of key catches in the contest.
There were a few drops, but the group fed off DiMichele and were largely responsible for the team’s four touchdowns.
The group had a few silly, unnecessary penalties and some missed blocks, but all told, they were solid.
However, the bulk of the blame for Buffalo’s goal-line stand in the first quarter falls on their shoulders, as they have to find a way to push forward and get the Owls that yard they need for a touchdown.
Even without junior Junior Galette and sophomore Morris Blueford Jr., this unit came to play.
After last week’s embarrassing performance against Connecticut, the Owls’ front four gave up just 110 yards on 31 carries (3.5 yards per carry).
Senior Terrance Knighton and junior Andre Neblett deserve a lion’s share of the credit, as they led the way and made up for last week.
Playing without Elijah “Peanut” Joseph, the unit allowed Buffalo junior tight end Jesse Rack to dominate the middle of the field, as he caught six balls for 75 yards in the contest.
Redshirt senior Omar McDonnaugh-Hales filled in and had eight tackles, including one for a loss, while junior John Haley had another solid game with eight tackles.
But there were a lot of missed tackles, missed assignments and the Bulls utter domination of the middle of the field, so it was a real mixed bag.
With senior Evan Cooper Jr. injured, you had to figure this group would be in trouble.
Buffalo senior quarterback Drew Willy threw for 348 yards and three touchdowns, and junior wide receiver Naaman Roosevelt caught eight balls for 132 and one touchdown.
But it was the game’s final play that ultimately decided everything, and sophomores Jamal Schulters and Jaiquawn Jarrett and redshirt junior Dominique Harris were unable to knock the ball down or box out Roosevelt on the Bulls’ Hail Mary completion.
Frustrating doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Senior wide receiver Travis Shelton had some nice returns, but lost a fumble. In addition, redshirt junior kicker Jake Brownell missed a 43-yard field goal in the second half.
However, sophomore punter Jeff Wathne’s kick-off out of bounds in the last minute simply can’t happen.
Behind coach Al Golden, the run defense was largely improved, and the offense was stellar, easily making their way down the field in three and four wide receivers formations.
Defensive backs know better, so the blame for the Hail Mary completion can’t be put on their shoulders.
Todd Orodenker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.