In the passing lane
UB’s Drew Anderson has blown by all expectations this season as the backup quarterback, and he has a game that drew national attention to thank for that
D rew Anderson’s phone was blowing up after his game Saturday, but it took him a while to check. He had the game of his life, throwing for 597 yards, recording seven passing touchdowns and running for one in the University at Buffalo’s 71-68 seven-overtime loss to Western Michigan.
“It’s a wild game,” Anderson said. “People are kinda still talking about that. It’s too bad we lost.”
It’s the type of selfless mentality coaches want to see from their signal caller and what coach Lance Leipold has come to expect from the mild-mannered Anderson.
“He’d trade it all for a win,” Leipold said. “He’s back on the field yesterday getting back to work because there’s things we all can improve on.”
“There’s plays I still think about,” Anderson said. “I think I could have done more.”
Anderson’s performance was one of the best in MAC history. He set the conference’s record for yards and tied the record for touchdowns. His success, the defensive scheme and an injury at running back meant he passed more frequently than he did the previous two weeks.
“They were kind of, I don’t want to say daring us to pass it, but definitely focusing on the run,” Anderson said.
UB’s counter worked perfectly, and because Anderson delivered he’s racked up numerous honors this week. He was named the MAC East Division Offensive Player of the Week, one of Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award’s “Great 8” performers and was one of eight quarterbacks named Manning Award Stars of the Week.
It’s a stark difference from three weeks ago, when he was a relatively unknown commodity at backup QB. “It’s crazy how things have changed,” Anderson said. The success hasn’t turned into boastfulness. Instead it’s allowed him to relax and take control of the offense.
“You can see him getting more comfortable in every single game
that he’s played in,” wide receiver Jamarl Eiland said. “He’s managed our offense well.”
“I think they had confidence in me before, but I’ve gotten a chance to show I can do it in a game too,” Anderson said.
Anderson faces a tough challenge to show his starting-worthy performance wasn’t just a flash in the pan. Saturday the Bulls host Northern Illinois, a team that ranks on top of the MAC in scoring defense, rushing defense and passing defense. Last week the Huskies’ secondary picked off Kent State three times and allowed just 29 yards through the air.
Leipold said Tuesday the starting QB job still belongs to Tyree Jackson when he returns from injury. If Anderson wants to make his case, he’ll have to mimic his intelligence last week. He didn’t throw an interception to a Western Michigan defense that had at least one pick in four of the previous five games.
“Play calling really helped me out in that regard,” Anderson said. “Just going through my progressions, receivers doing a good job getting separation.”
As for earning a shot at the starting role with another great game?
“The decision’s not up to me,” Anderson said.