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Five Things Learned: Buffalo Bulls at Miami RedHawks

Miami won ugly Saturday and Buffalo has room to grow in the passing game.

Buffalo v Miami Ohio Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

It wasn’t the prettiest win for the Miami RedHawks (2-3, 1-0 MAC) Saturday, but a win is a win and they found a way to gut out a victory despite suffering a ton of injuries in the contest. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bulls (2-3, 0-1 MAC) have some soul-searching to do as the offense didn’t do much outside of two outstanding runs from Kevin Marks and Jaret Patterson as the defense couldn’t force very many negative plays against a true freshman quarterback and an offensive that had three freshman playing on it for a sizable portion of the game. Needless to say, we learned a lot about both teams.

Winning Ugly

For Miami to get to where it wants to go, it needs to lean into winning games ugly. The defense very good at defending Buffalo’s tremendous running game (despite the aforementioned scoring runs) and UB’s passing attack vs. Miami’s secondary proved to be a mismatch in favor of the RedHawks. I’m curious to see how the defense responds to playing better QBs in the MAC, but they did what they needed to do against the Bulls.

Another component of winning ugly is special teams, and Miami’s units were dominant against Buffalo. All of Sam Sloman’s seven kickoffs were touchbacks, Kyle Kramer downed five punts inside UB’s 20-yard line, and Maurice Thomas etched his name in the Miami record books as the program’s all-time leader in kick return yards. There are few teams in the MAC that can match the special teams’ production of the ‘Hawk, so it would make sense to focus on winning the field position battle.

Open It Up

One of the things that could have hurt Miami in this game is not letting Brett Gabbert throw the ball enough to get into a rhythm. I understand not wanting to expose your true freshman quarterback early in the season, but you have to trust your quarterback to make the right play. There’s going to be games where you’re not going to have success running the ball and you’re going to have to throw to win, and Gabbert has to be trusted to win those games.

The Dynamic Duo

Going into the game, everybody knew that Kevin Marks and Jaret Patterson had to have some success for Buffalo to have a chance and they did just that with 284 rushing yards and a pair of scores between them. The pair nearly have 1,000 yards between them so far this season and will continue to terrorize MAC defenses, especially in the East. If the Bulls can find balance on offense...

Passing of the Bulls

UB’s passing game was quite the adventure as QBs were 7-20 for 89 yards with one score, two interceptions, four hurries, and two sacks. As dominant as the ground game has been, it will be a long season for Buffalo if they can’t figure out how to be effective in the passing game. Matt Myers was inaccurate at different points in the game and got rattled, but he was able to make some throws early in the game so he’s not a bad quarterback by any stretch.

Rest and Restart

Miami gets a much-needed bye this week before making the trip to Western Michigan against a talented-but-flawed Broncos team. The opportunity to get some players healthy before the rest of the MAC slate is a huge deal for the RedHawks as they’re as talented as any team in the conference, and another week to get Gabbert more comfortable in the offense is not a bad thing.

Meanwhile, Buffalo has a big test at home against Ohio Saturday and it will be a massive game for both teams. It is a chance for the Bulls to pick up a conference win against a team that has struggled mightily at times this year, while the Bobcats open MAC play on a three-game losing skid. The MAC East picture will get a little clearer following Saturday’s slate.