No need to look beyond the summary of the Kent State-South Alabama game to know where the University at Buffalo’s primary focus will lie in Saturday’s road game against the Golden Flashes. Stopping Kent means containing Dri Archer, who’ll line up at running back, line up in the slot, and make teams pay either way.
Archer is the latest in Kent’s line of explosive backfield talents. Quarterback Josh Cribbs tormented the Mid-American Conference and became one of the NFL’s elite return men. Quarterback Julian Edelman ran for 167 yards on UB during the 2008 championship season and was retooled into a slot receiver and return man with New England. And now it’s Archer, who accumulated 199 yards on 12 touches against South Alabama. He went 74 yards for a touchdown on a second-quarter run and 73 yards for another score on a fourth-quarter reception.
“He just has an extra gear that he gets into and he’s a legit fast kid,” Kent State coach Paul Haynes said Monday. “I know there’s a lot of people who say they have fast guys, I mean the kid’s legit fast. And when he gets his hands on the ball, he has the ability to take it to the house every time he touches it.
“Everyone knows about him. You look at last week’s game, they doubled him like crazy so we got to have some other guys step up when teams are doing that to us.”
Archer ran for 127 yards and a touchdown against UB last season and caught two passes for 32 yards.
“There’s nobody like him in our league,” UB coach Jeff Quinn said Monday. “If there’s a 4.3 guy out there, he’s the one.”
Kent State (2-6, 1-3) has been fighting through injuries all season. Archer missed three games early. Punter-kicker Anthony Melchiori is now out for the year. Quarterback Colin Reardon sat out the South Alabama game and is day-to-day.
Injuries have started to catch up with UB as well. Guard Jasen Carlson is done for the year. Wideout Alex Neutz is day-to-day with a concussion. The Bulls still are awaiting word on defensive end Colby Way (knee).
UB held a moment of silence before Saturday’s game in memory of Demarius Reed, the Eastern Michigan wideout who was fatally shot Friday morning in his off-campus apartment building.
The Eagles played Ohio U. on Saturday and returned the opening kick for a touchdown before falling, 56-28.
“I thought that they came out wanting to do well for Demarius, in his memory, and I thought that they played hard, which is what I asked them to do,” EMU coach Ron English said Monday of his players. “Although it was a tough time, I think the program did a nice job of handling it and we certainly are going to miss one of the great young men I’ve been around in terms of turning his life around.”
Reed, a junior from Chicago, had three catches for 36 yards against UB on Oct. 5 at UB Stadium.
Toledo finds itself in a virtual must-win situation when it travels to Bowling Green on Saturday in the I-75 rivalry game. The Rockets (4-3, 2-1) are unlikely to win the West with two MAC losses, not with Northern Illinois and Ball State both chugging along without a league loss.
The status of Toledo running back David Fluellen (Lockport) remains uncertain. Fluellen suffered a back injury when tackled awkwardly late in Saturday’s double-OT win over Navy. Coach Matt Campbell said Fluellen suffered no structural damage. Fluellen rushed for 160 yards on 20 carries against the Midshipmen, his sixth straight 100-yard outing.
Bowling Green (5-2, 3-0) co-leads the MAC East with UB and is coming off its bye.
UB was honored with a MAC Player of the Week for a fourth straight week.
East – Offense: Ohio U. QB Tyler Tettleton was 23 of 30 for 375 yards and four TDs — both career highs — as the Bobcats pounded Eastern Michigan, 56-28. Defense: UB safety/LB Adam Redden picked up his second award of the season with a 12-tackle effort in the 32-3 win over UMass. Redden had two tackles for losses and recovered a fumble. Special Teams: Akron WR Andrew Pratt blocked a punt that led to a TD and helped end the Zips’ 30-game road losing streak with a 24-17 win at Miami.
West – Offense: Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch set the FBS single-game record for rushing yards by a quarterback, going for 316 on 32 carries as the Huskies beat Central Michigan, 38-17. He also threw a TD pass for the 20th game in a row. Defense: Toledo DE Jayrone Elliott made 13 tackles in a 45-44 double OT win over Navy and returned a fumble 68 yards for a touchdown. Special Teams: Eastern Michigan KR Tyler Allen opened the game at Ohio with a 90-yard kickoff return for a TD.
UB maintains a widespread upper-echelon presence in the NCAA FBS statistics. The Bulls rank second in turnover margin (plus-13), fourth in fewest turnovers (six), fifth in sacks per game (3.43) , ninth in interceptions (11), 10th in fumble recoveries (eight), 15th in fewest sacks allowed per game (1.0) and 20th in tackles for loss per game (7.4). … Individually, Adam Redden is one of nine players in the country with three fumble recoveries and Khalil Mack is tied for 13th in tackles for loss at 1.4 a game and tied for 14th in sacks at just under one a game. … Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning is up to eight straight 300-yard passing games. … Northern Illinois has won 20 straight in the MAC and 13 straight on the road, second only to Oregon’s 18-game road winning streak.