Extra points after UB’s 33-15 victory over Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton, Fla., which included three defensive TDs and a safety:
x-Player of the Game: Junior linebacker Brandon Berry. He wasn’t even expected to start this season, because he opened training camp as backup to Jarrett Franklin. Franklin still is out with a back injury, and Berry has opened the season like a wrecking ball. He had a team-high 10 tackles against FAU, including three tackles for loss and a pass breakup. He forced the fumble on a blitz that turned the game around. It was returned by Travis Pitzonka 60 yards for a TD that pulled UB within 9-7.
“It was a blitz off the edges,” said Berry, who was on a run-dog along with Okezie Alozie. “Okezie had him, and he slipped off Okezie. I just came and punched it out.”
x-Good hands: Defensive end Brandon Crawford had a premonition in the fourth quarter before his fumble recovery that he returned 11 yards for the final touchdown of the game, early in the fourth quarter.
“In the time out I said I need to dry my hands,” Crawford said. “I have no idea why I had to dry my hands. I saw the ball come out and I saw people in front of me so I jumped over them. It was exciting for me.”
x-Edge rusher: Another encouraging defensive development was the play of sophomore DE Demone Harris. We’ll have to review the game to see about the quality of the offensive tackle he was going against, but he was eating up his matchup in the second half. Harris’ sack created the fumble that Crawford returned. And Harris rag-dolled an offensive lineman to penetrate into the end zone on the safety UB scored. It was a FAU run play from the 1, and linebacker Nick Gilbo made the tackle. But Harris made the play.
x-RB mistakes: FAU has two excellent running backs, but they both showed terrible discipline in trying to reverse field on third-down plays with the team in scoring position. One was a third-and-3 from the UB 22 that resulted in a 15-yard loss in the first quarter. The other was the Pitzonka TD, which was a third-and-1 run for minus-11 before the fumble.
x-Overthinking 101: We realize you can’t run 100 percent of the time on short yardage. But FAU’s play-caller helped out UB in a big way on a fourth-and-1 call from the UB 28 in the second quarter with the score 9-0. FAU had UB on the ropes. You have a red-shirt freshman QB in his first start. And they come out in an empty backfield on fourth and 1, simply inviting a blitz. UB blitzed, Jason Driskel had to unload immediately, and Berry batted the ball down.
x-Sputtering: UB’s offense was not assignment sound in the first half. There were too many mistakes, which derailed drives. UB came out throwing early, which I thought was the right approach against FAU (10 passes, 6 runs in the first four drives). But UB’s spread offense couldn’t make plays against FAU’s suspect Back Seven.
“We talked at halftime that it’s one guy here, it’s one guy there,” said UB coach Lance Leipold. “It’s a matter of sustaining. . . . If you could put your finger on one thing you would. Consistency, putting ourselves in good, normal down and distance. We have the safety. All those things are just not very characteristic of what we’re doing, and we have to get better.”
x-Coaching to win: On the positive side, Leipold and coordinator Andy Kotelnicki managed the game well. When the offense is leaking oil, go to your bell cows (RBs Anthone Taylor and Jordan Johnson). And Kotelnicki didn’t try to get cute in the second half with the UB defense playing well. UB needs to spend this week ironing out its offensive assignment mistakes and figuring out how to create some chunk plays in the passing game.
x-Malcolm on the outside: The one passing highlight was a second-half throw by Joe Licata to young Malcolm Robinson, who showed his leaping ability by high-pointing the ball on a go-route down the left side. It was play action and a good throw. Robinson has decent size, and he used it on that play.
x-Staying home: UB safety Ryan Williamson made a heady play early to not get fooled on a wide receiver option pass in the first quarter. He stayed over the top and intercepted in the end zone.
X-Key turnover: DT Max Perisse made a big early in the third quarter, forcing a fumble that Williamson returned 34 yards to set up a field goal. “I was engaged with my guy and I saw the running back shoot through the gap,” Perisse said. “I reached my arm out and try to grab him. I didn’t even know I caused it.”