Five Things to Watch: Albany at UB
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. at UB Stadium
Radio: 1520 AM. Online: ESPN3.
1. A Master Distributor. UB quarterback Joe Licata has a wealth of receiving options. On any given game, he could complete passes to 10 different receivers. Let’s see if the offensive coaches rotated the wide receivers as much as we saw in training camp. If someone is open, Licata will hit him. You’d expect a senior three-year starter at QB to look good in training camp. Licata looked great this summer. He did not have one off day, by our estimation. Here’s how we’d rank the WR weapons entering the season: 1. Ron Willoughby. 2. Collin Lisa. 3. Marcus McGill. 4. Malcolm Robinson. 5. Jacob Martinez. 6. Brandon Smiley.
2. DE Rotations. Defensive end is the youngest, most worrisome position on the team. The starters are sophomore Solomon Jackson (41) and sophomore Demone Harris (91). The second-stringers are red-shirt freshman Randy Anyanwu (34) and true freshman Charles Harris (92). They all may see roughly equal time. How good are they? It’s a mystery. It would be nice if they looked good vs. Albany. The Great Danes return four starters on their O-line, but the offensive tackles are light, if the pre-game release is to be believed. LT Kevin Malloy (67) is 6-5, 240. RT Tim Wade is 6-3, 240. UB’s DEs better look good if those weights are accurate.
3. New safeties. UB’s sophomore safety tandem is Ryan Williamson (26) and Andrews Dadeboe (17). Both are new starters. Will there be coverage busts in the secondary? Will they get sucked in on play-action passes? Will they make some plays?
4. Early season execution? UB’s defense is young and Albany’s offense is young. How clean a game can the Bulls play their first time out under a new coach and using new offensive and defensive systems? It’s a concern for Albany, too.
Said Great Danes coach Greg Gattuso: “It’s like a little puppy mill here. We’ve got all kinds of puppies out there. Young football players. How they respond in game action will dictate how well we can do.”
“Our youth is my biggest concern,” Gattuso said. “We will show up and play hard. I love that about our team. But right now we only have three seniors starting. We only have five in the two-deep. We don’t have one skill guy who’s older than a sophomore on offense right now.”
5. True freshmen. Here are UB’s true freshmen to watch for who we think may see action: OFFENSE: WR 10 Brandon Smiley. RB 24 Johnathan Hawkins. DT 90 Justin Brandon. DE 92 Charles Harris. CB 39 Cameron Lewis. S 12 Brandon Stanback.
PLUS TWO THINGS OFF THE FIELD
--UB's Tailgate Concert Series opens with the country band Thompson Square. Stadium Square opens three hours before kickoff, there's a Walk to Victory through the square at 1 p.m., then the band takes the stage two hours before kickoff, at 1:30 p.m.
--New student area. UB will have a new student VIP area behind the end zone in front of the scoreboard. Students who have registered will have access to free food and beverages, and there will be a DJ serving as host for the section throughout the game. The student seating sections still are on the West side of UB Stadium.