Feels eerie inside Ralph Wilson Fieldhouse these days. As the NFL labor strife lingers, the Buffalo Bulls — not the Bills — are occupying the building. Fitting that all doors to at the entrance were locked during Friday's practice.
The Bulls were back at it bright and early Saturday morning as the pads came on for the first time. As always this time of year, players felt liberated. Finally able to hit — after a long offseason of lifting weights and waiting — energy was high.
Here are some observations with video below:
--- Atop a laundry list of goals this spring, UB needs a quarterback to emerge. Yes, the running game was anemic last year, one of the worst in the country. But for Quinn’s offense to fully take effect, someone must step up under center. Early on, Alex Zordich is clearly ahead of Jerry Davis. The Bulls’ first full-contact 11-on-11 of the spring was brief but Zordich was sharp. By an unofficial count, Zordich completed 4 of 6 passes for 41 yards. His best throw was a difficult 14-yard dart across his body to Marcus Rivers. Zordich rolled right, was swallowed by heavy pressure and quickly snapped the ball back to his left to Rivers.
Davis, meanwhile, went 3 of 5 for 30 yards. One big difference, in drills and scrimmaging, was Zordich's willingness to drive the ball downfield. There's little hesitation. Davis (16 TD, 16 Int.) saw the field more last year, but Zordich seems more comfortable in Jeff Quinn's system. He's the frontrunner, and humble. After Saturday's practice, Zordich wasn't overly thrilled with his performance (see vid below).
--- The best player on the field? Possibly redshirt freshman James Potts. Potts chose UB over Louisville, Rutgers and Michigan State amongst other power-conference schools. After taking an interesting path here a year ago, he's finally thrust into the picture. Saturday provided a snapshot. Potts busted loose for runs of 12, 12 and nine yards in the scrimmage. He's hungry. After his first carry, Potts jolted off the ground with a fist pump and defiant “Let’s go!” Finally, his wait is over in what figures to be an open competition for carries in UB's backfield. Potts (6-0, 197) displayed a good center of gravity and gained some gritty yards after contact.
--- Good to see Quinn signing off on full, uninterrupted contact. There were not any quick whistles. He let his players play. After getting bullied throughout last year, that’s a smart decision.
--- Linebacker Josh Copeland was active on defense. The senior had multiple tackles near the line of scrimmage and nearly picked off a Zordich pass.
--- After an offseason of emphasizing building mass, Quinn said his team has put on a total of 750 pounds.
--- Monster offensive linemen Matt Ostrowski (leg) and Gokhan Ozkan (knee) continued to watch on from the sideline. Both are recovering from severe injuries and will rehab on the side through the spring. At one point, they were throwing down a sledgehammer-like tool.
--- He can't talk to coaches quite yet, but Joe Licata is doing everything he can to visually pick up UB's offense. The Williamsville South star was at Friday's practice, watching on from the sideline in street clothes. Check out video of him below.
--- Tyler Dunne