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

The Buffalo News - - WEATHER - NEWS SPORTS RE­PORTER

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

UB

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.

Sharon Can­til­lon/Buf­falo News

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