Although Alex Zordich has struggled with his passing the last two games, University at Buffalo coach Jeff Quinn is sticking with him for the time being.
Zordich, UB’s junior quarterback, has completed 48.5 percent of his passes this season (47 of 94) with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. In his last two games against Kent State and Connecticut, however, Zordich is 17 of 52 with three touchdowns and four interceptions.
“This kid is a tremendous competitor," Quinn said. “There’s no one who wants to do it and do it right and have success and our team senses that in Alex Zordich. He presses hard. We tell him, ‘You’re our starting quarterback, you’re the guy that we’re going with and we just have to get better.’ But we also have to be mindful and conscientious of what’s best to help us win games. We don’t want to lose thought of that, either."
Zordich’s backup is redshirt freshman Joe Licata (Williamsville South), who has appeared in two games.
“He’s ready to be the next guy in, absolutely, and he’s earned his way into the No. 2 spot," Quinn said. “No one has been more supportive of Alex Zordich than Joe Licata. He’s all about this team and I’m sure he’s chopping at the bit just like a lot of guys are but at the end of the day these kids respect each other; they care about each other, and they want nothing more than to see this team succeed no matter who does it."
Even if Zordich’s struggles continue Saturday against Ohio (5-0, 1-0 Mid-American Conference), he’s is too versatile to keep on the sidelines. He brings value to the Bulls running game, especially with leading rusher Branden “Bo” Oliver still nursing a leg injury. Zordich led the team in rushing against Connecticut with 76 yards on 14 carries.
“He got us in some chain moving situations, he scrambled, he eluded the rush and those are the things that you’re looking for," Quinn said. “If something’s not there obviously he can make those plays."
Quinn said not all of the offense’s woes can be pinned on Zordich.
“The interception [vs. UConn] was a blocking issue; he got hit right before he released the ball," Quinn said. “That’s an offensive line situation. If we throw the ball a little low and a little bit outside on a rollout pass the receiver has to go down dig it up and make it right. It’s a collection of things.
“We’re going to continue thinking about all the things we need to do to win football games" Quinn added. “Scheme-wise, calls-wise and personnel-wise, we need to keep that in the forefront and it is a topic of discussion every single week."
The Bulls have been quite proficient in the red zone, converting 9 of 9 opportunities and scoring eight touchdowns. UB is one of only four teams to have a 100 percent scoring rate inside the 20-yard line – joining top-ranked Alabama, Oklahoma State and Wake Forest.
“When we have been in there – not enough right now to our liking – we have been very efficient and that’s a good thing," Quinn said.
Quinn sounds optimistic that Oliver could return as early as this week at Ohio. Oliver missed last week’s game at UConn with an undisclosed leg injury.
“Bo is ready to go but we all know that just his toughness, he’s one of those special breeds and we’re very fortunate to have him," Quinn said. “We also have to do what’s best and everyday he’s getting better. He went and saw the doctors [Monday] and doctors said, ‘Coach, this kid is doing very, very well.’ We’re going to keep a close eye on it and see how he does ... and if all signs point to it, I don’t want to hold him back. If he’s ready to go then he’s going to play."
Quinn isn’t as optimistic about wide receiver Fred Lee, who is out at least until the latter part of the season with a hand injury.
“We’re hoping for maybe a game or two at the end of the season, maybe” Quinn said. “His hand injury is something where you can’t jar it, he’s a receiver."
Junior fullback Boomer Brock is also out for the Ohio game. The depth chart is unchanged from last week’s game against UConn.