Doctor visits were pending and the prognosis for at least four injured players remained in limbo Thursday night as the University at Buffalo continued to take stock of its conference-opening loss to Kent State.
UB announced via email Thursday that updates on injured players would not be available until at least today. What those tests reveal will have a potentially huge impact on the remainder of the season. Starters lost during the course of the Bulls' 23-7 Mid-American Conference defeat were workhorse running back Branden Oliver, defensive end Steven Means, wideout Fred Lee and safety/linebacker Issac Baugh.
A long-term injury to Oliver, the focal point of the offense, would be especially hurtful since the Bulls already have lost his primary backup, James Potts, to a season-ending knee injury. Junior Brandon Murie and true freshman Devin Campbell replaced the injured Oliver, and the Bulls have, among others, true freshman Jordan Johnson (Sweet Home) available. Sophomore Anthone Taylor is also out with a knee injury.
Oliver remained on the field until the final 10 seconds of the first half. After that the Bulls threw two deep passes, one resulting in a touchdown to Alex Neutz on the final play before intermission. How and when Oliver was injured can't be discerned from a review of the television broadcast. He carried twice on the final drive and, on his last play, released from the backfield and ran an underneath pass route. There was no evidence at that time of an injury.
However, coach Jeff Quinn said at the postgame news conference that he knew before halftime that Oliver would not be available after intermission. It wouldn't be unusual for a player to try to play through an injury.
Potts hurt his knee on a kickoff return before the 49-yard touchdown run against Morgan State, at the end of which an injury became evident.
Means was down for an extended period after being involved in a tackle early in the second quarter and did not return against Kent State. When Lee was hurt is unclear, but he returned to the sidelines with his left arm in a sling. Baugh was shaken up in the late going.
The Bulls are not particularly deep at any of those positions.
Here are the numbers through three games of the third year of the Quinn coaching era:
. Overall record: 6-21.
. Against FBS teams: 3-21.
. In conference: 3-14.
. Wins over .500 or better MAC Teams: 1.
. Games vs. FBS teams in which UB led: 8 of 24.
. Points for/against in MAC: 311-507.
. Starting quarterbacks: 4
. Total road wins: 1.
. Last road win: At Bowling Green, Oct. 2, 2010
. Next three games: At UConn, at Ohio, at Northern Illinois
And here are the numbers from the last year of Turner Gill's four-year stint as head coach (2009):
. Overall record: 5-7
. Against FBS teams: 4-7
. In conference: 3-5
. Wins over .500 or better MAC Teams: 1.
. Games vs. FBS teams in which UB led: 8 of 12.
. Point for/against in MAC: 182-186.
. Total road wins: 3
It takes a lot of backtracking to find a game in which UB quarterbacks completed fewer than five passes on at least 10 attempts (Alex Zordich and Joe Licata combined to go 5 for 25 for 113 yards with three interceptions Wednesday; Zordich was 4-22-2). Those five completions are the fewest since P.J. Piskorik and Datwan Hemingway were an aggregate 4 for 21 for 35 yards on Nov. 20, 2004, at UConn.
This is the sixth time in Quinn's tenure UB has completed 10 or fewer passes in a game in which it has thrown at least 20 times. Five of those games were against MAC teams. Only once during Gill's four seasons did UB fail to complete at least 10 passes when throwing 20 times (at Wisconsin, 2006).
All-MAC linebacker Khalil Mack factored in 12 tackles against Kent State, five more than any other Bull. Although he was suspended for the opener at Georgia, Mack now leads the Bulls in tackles (20), is the runaway leader in tackles for losses (7.5) and ranks first in sacks (3.5). Eight of his 14 solo tackles came against KSU.
UB has yielded a run of at least 38 yards in each of the first three games and two runs longer than 50.