The University at Buffalo’s young quarterback is going to have to make life easier for the inexperienced offensive line, not the other way around.
That’s one takeaway from the Bulls’ season-opening loss to lower-division Albany.
Red-shirt freshman quarterback Tyree Jackson had a good debut in defeat, and he’s going to need to be good early in the season. The UB offensive line, with three new starters, is a work in progress.
UB was licking its wounds on the practice field Tuesday in the wake of its 22-16 loss to the lower-division Great Danes.
“We gave ourselves Friday night to be mad about the game,” said Jackson. “But some guys came in and watched film on Saturday. We all came in together on Sunday and went over it. Yeah, it’s a tough loss, but we know we have 11 more and we’re not stopping.”
“Obviously we’re all disappointed but the biggest thing is we’ve got to move on from it and look at what’s on film, just like if we had won the game,” said UB coach Lance Leipold. “We have to get mistakes corrected. ... Until we execute better, our margin for error isn’t very big right now.”
The Bulls outgained Albany, 403-238, and rushed for 226 yards.
But the UB offensive line, which held a big size advantage, didn’t shove the ball down Albany’s throat as much as the Bulls needed.
With the game on the line in the fourth quarter, the Bulls rushed 10 times for just 27 yards.
The offensive line also combined for five penalties.
“The five penalties, other than the snap infraction, is something we’ve got to do better at,” Leipold said. “But it’s a different guy each time, and that’s what makes football so special. You all have to execute at the same time. It’s one guy this play, one guy another play. It wasn’t clear cut that one guy had a poor game.”
UB’s new offensive line starters are Roubbens Joseph at left tackle, Tyler O’Henly at right tackle and David Goldsby at right guard. They join center James O’Hagan and left guard Brandon Manosalvas, who are returning starters. The hope for the Bulls is cohesiveness builds.
In the meantime, Jackson’s mobility will need to aid the front five.
Jackson, the 6-foot-7, 245-pounder from Michigan, rushed 10 times for 60 yards and was not sacked. He was 14 of 25 passing for 125 yards and one interception, which came with 2:38 left in the game.
Jackson’s mobility and physical style in running read-option plays was effective. He ran a different offense in high school under coach Matt Koziak. But it included read-option designs.
“I’ve been doing option schemes since ninth grade with coach Koziak at Mona Shores, so it’s a lot of similar stuff,” Jackson said. “Coach” Andy “Kotelnicki has drilled it all summer. So it’s second nature to us.”
Graduate student Grant Rohach, who started the game and played the first six series, was 3 of 9 for 52 yards and threw two interceptions, both in UB territory in the first quarter. He also was sacked three times.
Jackson’s final run was a 7-yard to the Albany 1. But Jackson fumbled the ball, and it popped out of the side of the end zone for a touchback. Leipold liked the fact Jackson aggressively tried to get to the end zone. But the coach wanted to see the ball tucked away more securely.
“For a guy playing his first game, we saw some good things,” Leipold said of Jackson. “I thought he had a good first appearance. But again, there’s going to be two plays that stick in everybody’s mind for each quarterback right now.”
Leipold said he has not made any roster decisions for the next game, which is at Nevada on Sept. 17.