Bulls looking to stop losing skid against Temple

The UB football team returns home for a big matchup with the Owls

Jon Simon
September 20, 2019 - 1:10 pm

Photo: Matthew O'Haren - USA TODAY Sports

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It’s been a rough last couple of weeks for the University at Buffalo football team. Following road losses to Penn State and Liberty, the Bulls return home looking to not only get back in the win column, but also avoid a 1-3 start before heading into conference play.

The Bulls will have another tough test in front of them on Saturday afternoon at UB Stadium when they line up against the 2-0 Temple Owls, a team that knocked-off (at the time) 21st-ranked Maryland last week 20-17. UB and Temple met down in Philadelphia last season, where the Bulls emerged victorious 36-29, thanks to a catch-and-run touchdown from Anthony Johnson, who is now with the Los Angeles Chargers, in the final minute of the game. 

“We know it’s going to be a physical ball game,” Bulls head coach Lance Leipold stated in his weekly press conference on Tuesday. “It was probably our most physical game last year. When you look at [Temple], they look like a Big Ten team up front. They have great length. They made a quarterback change after the game last year. Anthony Russo is probably a little bit better of a thrower, and that’s going to be a bigger challenge with the length of their receivers. But, it’s one we know that’s coming.”

Defending opposing wide receivers was one of the Bulls’ biggest challenges in their loss to Liberty last Saturday. 10 different Flames caught a pass in the game, and accumulated 325 yards of offense and four touchdowns. Temple’s junior quarterback Anthony Russo, as Leipold stated, has a good arm and will air it out against the Bulls if the defense lets him. Through the Owls’ first two games Russo has completed 52 of his 78 pass attempts for 686 yards (8.8 avg.), along with seven touchdowns and a pair of interceptions.

Temple’s head coach Rod Carey, who is in his first season with the Owls, is quite familiar with UB, as are Leipold and his staff with Carey. Prior to being named Temple’s head football coach this past January, Carey spent the last seven seasons as head coach at Northern Illinois. Carey’s most recent matchup with UB was last year’s Mid American Conference Championship game in Detroit, where he and the Huskies defeated the Bulls 30-29.

“We’ve watched a lot of Northern Illinois film for schematic and philosophy thoughts,” Leipold said. “We watched [Temple’s] first two games [this year] to see what they’re doing with that. You get a bigger body of work when you go back and look at things like down and distance, similarities. Obviously, we played them in the MAC Championship game, so those are going to be things there. They’re going to know us very well.”

Sticking with the theme of familiarity, returning to their home field could provide some much-needed confidence to this young Bulls team. After playing on the road for a few weeks, especially in such a ruckus environment like Penn State, and suffering a few losses, getting back to UB Stadium and playing in front of a supportive crowd could be exactly what this group needs to turn things around. Of course, the fans can only do so much, and Leipold knows it’s on the players and coaches to get out of this funk they’ve found themselves in.

“We have to be ready every week,” Leipold admitted. “Obviously we weren’t, completely. I say that without taking away respect from the opponents’ production in the game. But, as I’ve also told our team, 30 minutes of good football does not carry you very far. Because, really, our last six quarters haven’t been to a standard where we’re going to play winning football, and we need to get that corrected. We have a big task this week with an excellent Temple football team coming here.”

Leipold mentioned that he didn’t want to use traveling and playing on the road as excuses, but, he did also admit that playing at home can give the Bulls some reassurance and motivation.

“I thought we had a really good crowd for the opener,” Leipold said. “We had a great student crowd. Hopefully our students and fan base come out to watch this team, because they will battle, and there are some exciting players. And I think what we do it exciting to watch. Again, hopefully we can use that to our advantage, playing at home. The routine, the surroundings, sometimes those things, when talking about younger, less experienced players, those can be to your benefit.”

Kickoff at UB Stadium is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. The game will be televised on ESPNU, and, as always, can be heard on ESPN 1520, along with pre-game and post-game coverage.

You can hear Leipold’s full press conference from Tuesday below:

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