Once backup tailback James Potts hit the outside, the race was over. He pulled away from Morgan State defenders and sailed into the end zone to complete a 49-yard touchdown run Saturday night. It was the first game-day glimpse at Potts' true capabilities since he joined the Bulls as a prized recruit out of Boynton Beach, Fla., two years ago.
Potts celebrated the TD - on just his second collegiate carry - with an end zone dance mild by celebratory standards. But his right cleat appeared to catch on the turf. Down he went. And now UB fears the right leg injury Potts suffered might end his season.
"The James Potts situation right now is we're getting a full workup on him and unfortunately it doesn't look good at this point," University at Buffalo coach Jeff Quinn said on Monday's Mid-American Conference coaches conference call. "I know we'll be losing him for the next game [Sept. 19 against visiting Kent State] and maybe multiple games and potentially, who knows, it may be the whole season."
Academic eligibility issues kept Potts from the playing field last season, and he said during training camp this summer he had learned to better organize his time to meet classroom demands. He was reinstated, showed a lot in camp and was the primary backup to star tailback Branden Oliver.
"It's really disappointing just because of how hard he's worked [on and off the field]," Quinn said.
The Bulls have depth at tailback behind Oliver, who receives the vast majority of carries as it is. Next on the depth chart is Brandon Murie, a 5-foot-9, 186-pound junior out of Iroquois High. He had three carries for 13 yards in Saturday's 56-34 victory and also returned a kickoff 53 yards.
Devin Campbell, a 5-11, 195-pound true freshman from Youngstown, Ohio, is the other tailback who has seen time. He carried once Saturday (a 4-yard loss) and also caught two passes for 11 yards.
The Bulls have adjusted their practice schedule this week with the Kent State game four days later than the Saturday norm.
"Game week actually physically begins on Friday," Quinn said of preparations. "That's what we call our Mental Monday. So we have four days, [Monday through Thursday], to go through some practice, some lifting, some film review, get a jump on Kent State.
"We've had this planned out for quite some time. Our kids understand these mid-week opportunities that the MAC has presented to be on national television (ESPNU). Our kids will be excited and I'm looking forward to it."
Meanwhile, Kent State is looking to regroup following a 47-14 loss at Kentucky. The Golden Flashes were outscored, 30-7, in the second half.
"For the first two quarters it was certainly quite a ballgame," said Kent State coach Darrell Hazell. "The second half we kind of broke down in a few areas, fundamental areas, gave up some big plays and the game got away from us quickly."
Kent State (1-1) opened the season with a 41-21 conquest of Towson but in two games has yielded a 74 percent completion rate, 600 yards and five touchdown throws to opposing quarterbacks. Hazell will be looking to clean that up before the visit to UB Stadium, where UB QBs threw for five TDs in the victory over Morgan State and Alex Neutz tied the school mark with four TD receptions.
UB's concern will be tightening up its run defense after Morgan State went for 201 yards. Kent has an explosive back in Dri Archer, who broke off a 47-yarder for a touchdown at Kentucky after producing TDs on runs of 15 and 18 and a 98-yard kickoff return in the opener.