Jeff Quinn constantly harps on the University at Buffalo’s depth at tailback and Anthone Taylor proved it’s not just hollow coachspeak.
The sophomore from Huber Heights, Ohio, rushed for a game-high 118 yards and two touchdowns and redeemed himself from a near disastrous fumble to score the winner from 6 yards out in the Bulls’ 26-23 five-overtime victory over Stony Brook on Saturday at UB Stadium.
Starting in place of the injured Branden Oliver, Taylor averaged 4.9 yards a carry on 24 attempts as the Bulls finally saw some life in a run game that sleepwalked in the first two games against Ohio State and Baylor.
“Coach Quinn always preaches about being the next Bull in and Bo didn’t play this game so I had some big shoes to fill,” Taylor said. “I just went out there and gave 110 percent effort and I made sure I made every play count and made every block I could and did what I was coached to do.”
Taylor nearly became the goat, depending on who you ask. In the third overtime with the game tied at 20 Taylor and quarterback Joe Licata had a big exchange and the tailback fumbled. It was recovered by Stony Brook’s Grant Nakwaasha at the 18.
“I came over to Joe and told him we had to make up for it if we have a chance and that’s what we tried to do,” Taylor said. “We came out with the victory, it wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t perfect but it was complete as we had to make sure that play doesn’t hold us back.”
Asked if he was expecting the ball, Licata grabbed the mic from Taylor.
“I was slow getting around on the hand off,” Licata said before Taylor chimed in.
“I might have been too close,” Taylor said.
Said Licata: “My fault.”
“It was both our fault,” Taylor said.
Whomever’s at fault, Quinn said the fumble bothered him more than any singular play in the game.
“For us to put the ball on the ground in that situation, those guys understand what we expect,” Quinn said. “But I was happy to be able to call his number and for him to be able to run that winning touchdown in.”
Quinn has several options in the backfield even without Oliver. Junior James Potts carried the ball eight times and gained 30 yards, including a long of 11 yards.
“It’s a competitive atmosphere and you make sure the next guy is always ready,” Taylor said. “You never know when your name is going to be called and Coach Quinn always stresses you never know what could happen and be ready to be the next Bull in.”
Taylor’s chance came following pregame warmups when Quinn was informed Oliver wasn’t going to be available because of a knee injury.
“Me and Bo have a good relationship and he just told me to be ready,” Taylor said. “I made sure that whatever I did in practice I did it 100 percent. I was able to make my reads, and I just knew what my assignment was just in case he didn’t play I was ready.”