Niagara Gazette

September 16, 2008

UB NOTEBOOK: Tigers have country’s best offense

By Jonah Bronstein<br><a href="mailto:bronsteinj@gnnewspaper.com">E-mail Jonah</a>

AMHERST — Gill knows offense. He famously directed Nebraska’s “scoring explosion” in the early ’80s, and over the last 15 games, since Gill took over the playcalling, Buffalo is averaging more than 25 points.

The Bulls might need to double that output if they’re going to keep up with Missouri on Saturday.

“Since I’ve been here, this is probably the most productive offensive football team we are going to face,” said Gill, still glowing somewhat on Tuesday, three days after UB’s thrilling win over Temple, but clearly sobered by what he’s seen on film from the Tigers.

Gill said the Bulls “almost have to play a perfect game,” to beat the nation’s top-ranked offense.

Led by quarterback Chase Daniel, a senior who finished fourth in the Heisman voting last season, the Tigers have produced 1,791 yards and 173 points in their first three victories. They lead the nation in both categories.

In the last 13 drives with Daniel in command, Missouri has scored 12 touchdowns and a field goal. During that span, Daniel has thrown for 650 yards and seven touchdowns, with only six incomplete passes.

“If you want to model what a spread offense looks like, this would be a classic example,” said Gill, who tried to recruit Daniel out of Texas to play at Nebraska.

Missouri has scored 11 of its 19 offensive touchdowns on drives lasting less than two minutes. UB quarterback Drew Willy said the Bulls don’t want to get in a shootout with the quick-strike Tigers.

•••

Niagara Falls’ James Starks is still hurting from a leg bruise sustained Saturday, but will play against Missouri. “He’s able to play, but he may not be 100 percent,” Gill said.

Starks was limited to 20 yards on eight carries last week — after averaging 138 yards in the seasons’ first two games. Backups Brandon Thermilus and Mario Henry combined for 88 yards and Gill said he expects to use all three backs again this week.

•••

Defensive tackle Ronald Hilaire will not travel to Missouri because of a leg injury, Gill said, opening a starting spot for Dane Robinson and more playing time for freshman Richie Smith. Robinson has three quarterback hurries and a sack in the last two games.

Freshman cornerback Joe Petit, and sophomore offensive lineman Brian Kelly — the nephew of Jim Kelly — debuted on the two-deep this week, as Kendric Hawkins and Jordan Jerrold are still recovering from preseason injuries.

•••

UB has played seven games against ranked teams since joining Division I. Missouri is the second-highest ranked team they’ve played. Auburn was ranked No. 2 in 2006. The Bulls lost those seven games by a combined score of 311-40, with their best effort coming last year in a 45-24 loss at then-No. 12 Penn State.

•••

Saturday’s game will not be televised locally.

Contact reporter Jonah Bronstein at 282-2311, ext. 2258.