- Associated Press - Thursday, September 11, 2014

AMHERST, N.Y. (AP) - It makes no difference to University at Buffalo football coach Jeff Quinn if Baylor elects to rest its banged-up offensive starters for one more week.

The eighth-ranked Bears’ backups are a handful, too.

“After watching their game last week, they just have other guys ready to go,” said Quinn, whose Mid-American Conference Bulls (1-1) prepare to host the defending Big 12 champion Bears (2-0) on Friday night. “They have a system, and they run it no matter who’s leading it out on the field.”

Northwestern State found that out last weekend, when the FCS team’s defense withered in the face of a Baylor backup-led onslaught. Quarterback Seth Russell, filling in for injured senior starter Bryce Petty, threw for 438 yards and five touchdowns in the first half en route to a 73-6 win.

“They have,” Quinn said, understatedly, “a lot of speed.”

And depth.

Coach Art Briles has so much starting-caliber talent that he prefers to avoid making first- and second-team designations.

“We’ve got a bunch of players,” Briles said. “You can only play so many at certain times.”

Petty is expected to play Friday, but it’s unclear for how long. He’s been out since cracking two small bones in his back during a season-opening 45-0 win against SMU.

Baylor will be without senior receivers Levi Norwood (wrist) and Clay Fuller (broken collarbone), while Antwan Goodley (quadriceps) is listed at 50-50. Their presence wasn’t missed last weekend in a game the Bears racked up 720 yards offense, 455 yards passing, and freshman KD Cannon finishing with six catches for 223 yards and three scores.

The Bears will face a Bulls defense that has been torched for a combined 75 points and 839 yards already.

“We’re building our self-confidence,” said Quinn, coming off 47-39 loss at Army. “It’s very important that they understand about not thinking what can go wrong, but always thinking about what can go right.”

Here are a number of things to watch out for:

BUSY STRETCH: Baylor closes a tough stretch by playing its third game in 13 days before getting a weekend off.

“It’s not like all of a sudden we woke up and said, ‘Oh, we’ve got a game Friday,’” Briles said. “We tried to kind of gear our guys where we’ll be able to be as fresh as possible Friday night.”

After Buffalo, the Bears are off until opening their conference schedule at Iowa State on Sept. 27.

GONE IN 60 SECONDS: The Bears up-tempo attack is so fast that Baylor already has seven touchdown drives that have lasted less than a minute. They also don’t waste time between whistles by getting the next snap off in under 20 seconds.

Quinn has been preparing Bulls defenders in practice by having his offense snap the ball every 15 seconds. He also has receivers jumping the snap to simulate Baylor’s speed.

BAD MEMORIES: Bulls quarterback Joe Licata is still stung by memories of Buffalo’s 70-13 loss at Baylor last season. It was a game in which he was sacked and lost a fumble which was returned 91 yards for a touchdown.

“We left a lot of points out on the field,” Licata said.

Worse still, the junior quarterback is unhappy with his performance against Army last weekend. Despite finishing with 401 yards passing and school record five TDs, Licata is upset by the three interceptions he threw that put the Bulls into an early hole.

“I can’t be turning the ball over in one game. I shouldn’t turn the ball over three times in a season,” he said. “It won’t happen again.”

NO MACK: Buffalo’s defense is still attempting to find its hard-hitting identity after losing several senior starters to graduation. The key loss was senior linebacker Khalil Mack, who was selected with the fifth pick by Oakland in the NFL draft.

NUMBERS BEAR OUT: Baylor’s running attack is no slouch. The Bears are averaging 263 yards rushing. Their defense is stingy, too, having not allowed a touchdown. Baylor hasn’t been shut out in 89 games, matching the school’s longest streak set from Dec. 31, 1979 to Oct. 23, 1987. They’ve scored 40-plus points in 27 of their past 34 games.

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