UB Gameday: Five Things to Watch vs. UMass
Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. at UB Stadium.
Radio 1520 AM. TV: ESPNU.
1. Senior Day. It’s Joe Licata’s last home game. He’s 14-8 in his career at home. He could move up to 12th on the Mid-American Conference’s all-time passing yards list. He’s already ninth on the MAC’s all-time TD list. Senior WR Ron Willoughby needs one TD catch to tie Drew Haddad for fifth in UB history with 16. Senior RB Anthone Taylor ranks fifth on UB’s career rushing list. Senior WR Marcus McGill needs three catches to reach 50 for the season, which would give UB three 50-catch receivers for the first time in its FBS history.
2. Defending Sharpe. UMass star receiver Tajae Sharpe has 105 catches. UMass moves him around a lot, so it may not be easy for UB to match Boise Ross on him all the time. It probably won’t happen. UB’s secondary needs to keep everything in front of them. Bend but don’t break. The UMass offense has not shown the ability to sustain a lot of long drives.
3. A big offensive finish. UMass ranks 11th in yards allowed, 11th vs. the run and 10th vs. the pass. It is 11th in sacks with 11. Licata should have time to operate.
4. Better third downs. UB has struggled on third downs. It ranks 10th in the MAC, converting 36 percent. But UMass defense is allowing 47.8 percent conversions, third worst in the MAC. Time to get healthy.
5. Start fast. UMass is 2-9. Do not give them added inspiration by giving them short fields or easy points early.
UB has not been good at starting fast. The slow start have hurt UB's ability to get chunk plays in the passing game. It's hard to "waste" a play on a downfield throw when its such a struggle to convert third downs.
Said Lance Leipold: "You take a shot on first down to try to soften people up and you’re not having great success in that consistency area, are you willing ot take that chance to be second and 10 vs. hopefully being second and 6 or better? That is something that’s been discussed pretty much on a weekly basis on game plan things when Andy Kotelnicki and I meet on game-plan things. Hey, we need to take some shots. But it’s not always as clean as the way the game is playing out."