By Jonah Bronstein
After strong participation in the strength and conditioning program and voluntary player-led workouts this summer, the University at Buffalo football team has high hopes for the coming season.
Overconfidence shouldn’t be an issue.
“Any time any guy’s head gets too big, we can pop in film from last year and it gets quiet in the room,” senior receiver Terrell Jackson said after the season’s practice Monday. “That’s an ego check.”
In their first year under the direction coach Jeff Quinn, the Bulls reverted to the losing ways of their initial foray into Division I football, falling back from the moderately-successful Turner Gill tenure highlighted by the 2008 Mid-American Conference championship.
UB finished 2-10 last season. One of those wins came in the season opener against a lower-division foe, Rhode Island. The other happened on the road at Bowling Green, when the Falcons kicker missed a last-second field goal. In their seven MAC losses to close out the season, the Bulls were outscored by an average of 19 points.
“There’s no way we can look at last year and feel confident about ourselves,” Jackson said. “The good thing about mistakes is you learn from them.”
One of UB’s major issues last season was inconsistent quarterback play. Jerry Davis won the starting job out of training camp, but poor decision-making hampered his ability to run Quinn’s spread offense. He was replaced midseason by true freshman Alex Zordich, who showed flashes of promise.
Zordich entered the offseason atop the Bulls depth chart, but Quinn said Davis had a stronger spring. Now, the returning passers are in a three-way competition with newcomer Chazz Anderson, a fifth-year senior who transferred in from Cincinnati, where Quinn was the offensive coordinator before coming to Buffalo.
Quinn said the three quarterbacks will get equal reps with the starters for the first week of practice. The Bulls will have a second non-contact session today, then put on the pads for Thursay and Friday’s workouts. Two-a-days begin Saturday.
“When we complete the whole week, we’ll certainly have enough information to decide who will emerge and who’s done the most in terms of most consistent, best judgement and who’s making plays,” Quinn said.
Quinn was encouraged by what he saw on the first day, and could tell the players got a lot accomplished during summer sessions.
“They were organized, they were high-spirited,” he said. “Guys knew where they were supposed to go, they knew the calls.”
Seniors at each position coordinated on-field drills during and strength and conditioning sessions, then led the team through 7-on-7 drills.
“We all bought in together, we all played great together,” senior defensive tackle Richie Smith said.
Entering a second season under the new coaching staff helped the Bulls during their offseason work.
“You understand the scheme, so you understand what they expect from you,” Smith said. “All summer long, we practiced the little things.”
Starting center Josh Violanti had surgery in the offseason and will be slowly incorporated into practices, Quinn said.