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UB picks Anderson for opener Fifth-year senior adds maturity at QB

Experience and maturity took center stage for the University at Buffalo football team. After all, there's a reason why fifth-year senior Chazz Anderson, with his valuable experience after playing three seasons at Cincinnati, was brought in.

But it wasn't until after Saturday's scrimmage that head coach Jeff Quinn made it official to the media -- Anderson will be the starting quarterback when the Bulls open the season at Pittsburgh on Sept. 3.

"Chazz Anderson has been taking all the first-team reps as you saw today," Quinn said. "I would fully anticipate Chazz being our starting quarterback when we begin against Pitt. Chazz has really stepped up his game and brought a level of consistency to our offense. He can escape the pass rush, which is very important if we need him to. He can make plays down field. You saw a couple of explosive plays today which really made me feel like we found the guy that should be the guy taking the first snap against Pitt.

"His consistency in terms of his judgment [stood out]. He's an intelligent football player. He sees the whole field, he feels things, he senses things and those are all very positive things you want from the quarterback position. And he's able to make plays. Now what we really need to do is hone down and keep our first team working together so guys are comfortable together."

There was no formal announcement to the players, but in Saturday's game-like conditions, including fans in the stands for a family day, it was clear the difference between the first and second string. Anderson earned the starting job with sophomore Alex Zordich serving as the backup.

The opportunity to begin a season as the starting quarterback is what brought Anderson to Buffalo. After two weeks of camp, he feels more comfortable in the offense and ready to take full advantage of his final collegiate football season.

"It's just a culmination of just continuing to prepare each and every day like I'm the staring quarterback," Anderson said. "I never was concerned about that. I just wanted to play to the best of my ability. It does [feel good] but I just want to do my part and help the Bulls win football games. If that means I'm on the bench, I'm on the bench. If that means I'm starting, I'm starting.

"I knew coming in here that I would get an opportunity. When I was young, I learned to just seize the opportunities that you're given. I just want to continue to prepare. For me, it's all about preparation. I want the guys to see that I'm consistent and predictable. They know what they're getting out of Chazz each and every day. That's what I try to do."

In three seasons with Cincinnati, he served primarily as the backup quarterback, completing 74 of 126 passes for 729 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions. His most extensive action came in 2008, when he started a pair of games on a team that won its first Big East title and competed in the Orange Bowl. In those two starts, Cincinnati beat Marshall and Rutgers. Last season he started in a loss to Syracuse.

Even with Anderson's credentials from a successful Big East program, there was solid competition among four quarterbacks in camp.

"It's a good feeling to have that many good quarterbacks in our football program," Quinn said. "It's really raised all the quarterbacks' level of play to a higher point and that's been a real good feeling for me because now we have a group of guys that are all about the team. They all understand their role and responsibility of being that quarterback when they get that moment because they're all going to have a shot potentially to being [in the game]. You never let your guard down."

But the experience Anderson brings put him a notch above the others and brings confidence to the offense. A fifth-year senior who earned his undergraduate degree from Cincinnati and transfered to Buffalo with one year of college eligibility remaining, he has the role of "elder statesman" even though he's not the oldest player on the team.

"A lot of us think that he's 22 going on 40," said senior wide receiver Marcus Rivers. "It's like having a big-brother in the locker room. Everything about him is just positive."

email: amoritz@buffnews.com