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UB coach Lance Leipold affirms commitment to Tyree Jackson at QB

UB's Lance Leipold didn't mince words about his quarterback competition, a battle between injured starter Tyree Jackson and breakout star Drew Anderson.

"Tyree's our quarterback," Leipold said. "He's our starting quarterback."

It's a strong statement from a coach dealing with plenty on his plate after a game he described as the best game he's coached in. A record-breaking performance by Anderson against Western Michigan means a tough decision is looming for Leipold, even if Jackson is doubtful for this weekend's game against Northern Illinois due to a knee injury.

Jackson had a strong freshman campaign in 2016 and showed off his dual-threat ability in the first four games of this season, throwing three touchdown passes and running for four.

It's hard to look past Drew Anderson's numbers from this weekend though, video game-esque totals of 597 yards, seven passing touchdowns and one on the ground in just his second career start. There wasn't much more he could have done to show he's worthy of getting a shot at the top position.

Leipold is following a classic football mantra: A player shouldn't lose the starting position due to injury.

"He didn't do anything to lose his job," Leipold said.

He does have time to change his mind, as the third-year coach admitted he has no clue when Jackson will be ready to play. Anderson has more opportunities to prove the Bulls are stronger with him on the field.

The more pressing issue for Leipold this week is managing a locker room dealing with a heart-wrenching loss. Seven overtimes, four hours and 31 minutes of work and new record for combined points scored in a game, 139 points, means a boatload of mood swings. A game like that is taxing both mentally and physically, especially if it doesn't equate to a victory. The Bulls have to reset after the 71-68 loss just two games into MAC play.

"The thing that was very encouraging after the game was that in a locker room that was drained and mentally exhausted ... a player pulled me aside to say he's never been more committed to anything and his teammates feel the same," Leipold said.

It was a sign of optimism for Leipold. There are positives at the core of his challenges. The loss is tough to swallow because there were chances to win. UB hung with a team picked second in the MAC's East Division preseason poll, a team that demolished the Bulls 38-0 last season. There's only a quarterback controversy because of Anderson's success.

At 1-1 in MAC play and 3-3 overall, there are signs of improvement, but Leipold said it has to translate to wins.

"They don't want to be close anymore," Leipold said.

"I just went around to the locker room and I went to every guy, everyone who played and I told them, 'I was proud of the fight that they put in,'" wide receiver and team captain Jamarl Eiland said. "They showed some of the things that we're capable of. I think we earned a lot of people's respect. 'I'm proud of you, but lets go get a win.'"

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