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Buffalo Postgame - Grading the Offense

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Sorry for the lack of postage today. The real world calls and I've been spending the day sitting in airports and riding on airplanes. This evening I find myself in Baton Rouge. They should really give you Cajun translation dictionaries when you get off the plane here. If I run into Les Miles I'll make sure to knock his hat off. But enough of that. Let's take a look at how the offense did this weekend.

Quarterbacks

Morelli had a pretty good game. I'll take 75% completion, 202 yards, 4 TD and 0 INT every weekend thank you very much. But he wasn't completely perfect. Some balls were terribly overthrown. And he still has problems leading a receiver on crossing patterns and when they are coming out of the backfield. The touchdown throw to Norwood should have been intercepted. At a minimum it should have been ruled incomplete. Anyone with two eyes watching it on television saw the ball hit the ground.

But Anthony did make some good throws. The bomb to Butler is a pass he would have overthrown last year. People who watched it on television will tell you Derrick Williams was running down the sideline uncovered on that play. But overall it was a solid game but not overly impressive. Too bad it didn't happen at 8 PM on a Saturday night when people are actually watching and stuff. I guess we're never satisfied.

Grade: 8 out of 10

Running Backs

Austin Scott had the worst game of his career. He looked hesitant with the ball and fumbled twice in the first three possessions. Fortunately Rodney Kinlaw came in and had a stellar game with 132 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. He did an excellent job of weaving his way through traffic making sure every step went forward. After the game Paterno said we now have two first string running backs. This tells me Austin Scott's job is in serious jeopardy. Probably the only thing that saved the tie for him was the 40 yard touchdown run when the game was already decided. He better hang on to the ball and start making the most of his carries or he's going to see his workload go down even more.

The fullbacks are a pleasant surprise this year. Matt Hahn has been extremely active and effective in the offensive gameplan. On Saturday he had four touches for 25 yards. He gives the offense another dimension that keeps the defense on its toes.

Scott's Grade: 3 out of 10
Kinlaw's Grade: 9 out of 10
Running Backs in General: 7 out of 10

Receivers

Welcome back Andrew Quarless. The sensational sophomore came up big with two catches for two touchdowns. The guy is just awesome in the redzone. His physical stature and athletic ability make him impossible to cover. He's going to be a tremendous weapon going forward.

I was pleased to see the wideouts get involved in this game. Deon Butler showed off his ability to get behind the defense. Terrell Golden came up big with another touchdown catch. Jordan Norwood continues to show the best hands. Everyone got involved.

But I'm not completely happy. Where was Chris Bell? All we heard about in the spring was how nobody could cover Chris Bell. Well where is it? Is he in the doghouse or are the coaches keeping him under wraps? And we're still waiting to see the big play potential we keep hearing about with Derrick Williams. He's great on end arounds and punt returns, but he's no threat in the passing game. But not all of this is his fault as I'll explain in a minute.

Grade: 8 out of 10

Offensive Line

Overall an ok performance. They were penalty free so that's good. But they still couldn't get anything going in the first quarter. Part of that falls on Austin Scott's head as he fumbled the ball away twice. Toward the end of the first half they started getting things rolling and were ok from there.

Right guard may be a concern. John Shaw shared much of the playing time with true freshman Stefen Wisniewski. Paterno says Shaw is still hurting from his knee injury last year. I don't know that I buy it. If you're injured you don't play. Shaw played a lot of the game. I expect Wisniewski to be the starting guard by the end of the year. This kid must be pretty good to burn his redshirt already.

Grade: 8 out of 10

Offensive Coaching

Predictable as always. The first series of the game just epitomized every complaint anyone has ever had with the offensive play calling. Run up the middle for no gain. A foiled attempt at a wide receiver screen that forced Morelli to scramble for a few yards. Then on 3rd and 7 they throw a five yard pass.

The wide receiver screen is becoming a pet peeve of mine. I hate that play. It sucks and it doesn't work. Jay, if you're reading this, stop running it. Give it up. I know everyone fell in love with them when Purdue began running them back in the 1990's, but everyone has caught on now. There are safer and more effective ways to gain three yards. I'm convinced this is why Derrick Williams looks so pedestrian in this offense. The coaches show no creativity in getting him open. All the crossing routes are going to Jordan Norwood, and whatdoyaknow? He looks awesome. Let's throw some DWill's way.

I've come to the conclusion that Austin Scott cannot run between the tackles. He hesitates too much instead of moving forward and picking up yardage. Oh, and he fumbles. We all saw what he can do when they get him the ball on the outside on his 40 yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. This is his strength. Stop playing him like he's Tony Hunt. He needs to run sweeps and tosses outside the tackles. He'll have quite a few three yard losses, but more often than not he'll break it for a big gain.

Once again the redzone offense was outstanding going 4-for-5 with three touchdowns. Blame the lone failure on the offensive line who blew a block that resulted in Scott losing five yards and then they gave up a sack on the next play. Other than that the game plan in the redzone has been highly effective. But what was up with the Derrick Williams end around on 3rd and 8 at the 12 yard line?

Overall they do a great job of getting everyone involved. The wide receivers all had good days. Quarless came back with two touchdowns. Even the fullback is getting plenty of touches. This gives the team a lot of flexibility to adjust if any one part of the offense (cough...Austin Scott...cough) isn't performing.

Grade: 8 out of 10