Niagara Gazette

Sports

September 16, 2008

UB FOOTBALL: Willy sparking Bulls' resurgence

Saturday’s win over Temple may go down as the most dramatic in University at Buffalo history, but for senior Drew Willy, it was just another step in his evolution into a top-tier quarterback.

Willy’s 35-yard heave to Naaman Roosevelt as time expired gave the Bulls a two-point victory. It was a play that made all the national highlight shows, and a throw that has suddenly thrust Willy into the spotlight.

“There’s been a lot more attention,” Willy said on Tuesday. “It was a tremendous play to end the game, and I was glad I was a part of it.”

Now one of the best quarterbacks in the Mid-American Conference, Willy gets his shot to make national news again this Saturday when the Bulls play at No. 5 Missouri. The matchup will feature a pair of Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award candidates, with Willy going head-to-head with Missouri gunslinger Chase Daniel.

“I love playing games like this against the best teams in the country,” Willy said. “You get to prove yourself, and you get to play under pressure. I think that’s every quarterback’s dream.”

Willy has certainly been a dream for the upstart Bulls, who are 2-1 (1-0, MAC) for the first time since 1998 — their last year in the Championship Subdivision. He’s already thrown for eight touchdowns and just two interceptions, and his 348-yard performance against Temple was a career-high.

“He’s very smart how he plays,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. “You can just see his experience ... he’s a real good football player.”

Of course, it helps when your head coach is Turner Gill, the former Nebraska signal-caller and Heisman Trophy-finalist. When Gill came to Buffalo following the 2005 season, Willy was just finishing up a freshman campaign that saw him throw 12 interceptions and just six TDs in 10 games.

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