Senior tight end Matt Weiser has become a multidimensional weapon for the University at Buffalo.
Weiser had just 15 catches as a junior last season. This year he leads all tight ends in the nation in receiving yards with 514, and he’s second in the nation in catches by a tight end with 53.
UB has made the 6-foot-5, 255-pounder from the Reading, Pa., area a focus of the offense.
“I’ve always known I’ve been able to catch the football, but I’ve never thought about numbers really,” said Weiser this week as the Bulls prepared for Saturday’s game at Akron.
“The thing he brings to the table is we can do so much with him,” said UB tight ends coach Alan Hensell. “He can catch the ball, he can block, he’s very smart, and we move him all over the field, which really puts a lot of pressure on defenses to get lined up.”
Weiser was not a primary passing-game target in last year’s offense. UB flexed him out into a slot or wide receiver position on fewer than 10 plays all last season.
This year, offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki has done it 195 plays, or 27 percent of the time, according to News figures.
“Coach K does a great job of finding different ways to utilize us and get mismatches,” Weiser said. “The way he splits us out allows us to create leverage against linebackers or smaller cornerbacks. They’re finding ways to create those mismatches, and it’s given me the opportunity to show some skills that I wasn’t able to show in the past.”
Weiser does a good job using his size and wingspan to out-position Mid-American Conference linebackers and cornerbacks in space. He has been “flexed out” on 31 of his 53 catches.
“He’s a big body that’s hard to tackle, especially for a DB, and that’s what happened on his long touchdown against Nevada,” said Hensel, referring to a 41-yard catch-and-run score. “A DB missed a tackle, and the next thing you know, he’s in the end zone.”
Weiser even lines up in a far outside position on occasion. Kotelnicki did it to match him up on a 5-9 cornerback in the win over Ohio. Weiser made a nifty leaping grab over the defender for a 26-yard gain in that game.
Weiser also scored the TD of the season for UB – so far – on an 8-yard catch with 58 seconds to go to win the game at Kent State, 18-17.
His catch total has surpassed the previous UB single-season record for a tight end – 45 by Chad Bartosek in 2002.
“Is it shocking to me that Matt would have 50 catches? No,” said UB coach Lance Leipold.
“We came out of spring ball looking at our two tight ends as two weapons we wanted to make sure were going to be steadily used in the game plan as much as they could be,” Leipold said.
“Mason Schreck’s injury early in the season kind of slowed down a bit of what we wanted to get done with both guys on the field,” Leipold added, referring to a knee injury that limited the No. 2 tight end the first half of the season.
Schreck, a 6-4 junior, has 18 catches. UB has used two tight ends on 28 percent of its plays, compared with 15.5 percent last season.
Most tight ends these days are one-dimensional – either they’re good at receiving or blocking, but not both.
Weiser is a decent blocker. He and Schreck paved the way for Jordan Johnson’s 47-yard Wildcat TD run last week.
“He’s been solid in the run game blocking for us, better than we thought,” Leipold said.
“We were concerned about size and weight and how he’d handled the point of attack, and he’s exceeded our expectations.”
Weiser is not fast by NFL tight end standards. But if he can run a decent time in post-season workouts, UB coaches are convinced that his size and sure hands at the least will get him an invite to an NFL training camp.
Danny White was introduced as the new athletic director at the University of Central Florida in Orlando on Thursday.
He told reporters he will stay on as University at Buffalo AD until the end of December.
“Danny’s going to start full time in January, but we’re going to have him on base to get things moving, and we’ll start that search for our head coach of football right away,” UCF President John C. Hitt said, according to Central Florida Future, the university’s student-run paper.
White will be in Atlanta on Friday to meet with search consultants for UCF’s football coaching hire.
“I want to make sure I transition out of UB the right way so that the momentum that’s going on there will continue,” White said. “The football coach search is already started. I know that’s a critical leadership role for us moving forward.”