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Wisconsin Football vs. Buffalo Analytics Game Preview

Deep Dive Analytics Preview into Buffalo, and their two new Coordinators. What will they bring against Wisconsin Football in Week 1?



Wisconsin Badgers Football Stadium: Camp Randall
Sep 3, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; General view of Camp Randall Stadium prior to the game between the Illinois State Redbirds and Wisconsin Badgers. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

It’s almost gameday, and I’m back to bring you an “Analytics” Preview of Wisconsin Football and their Week 1 Matchup vs. Buffalo!

I feel just like Luke Fickell and a kid on Christmas Morning, it’s been a really long time since Badger Fans have been able to come into a season with so much anticipation. Last time I felt this way was back in 2018, off our 13-1 2017 Season with so much returning firepower offensively. Obviously, that Season didn’t turn out great at all. But the circumstances here are very different. Luke Fickell is at the helm instead of Paul Chryst, Phil Longo in at OC instead of Joe Rudolph, and Mike Tressel is in for Jim Leonhard at DC.

Through my Pre-Season Series, which you can find below, I talked a lot about Wisconsin. For this Week 1 matchup, I’ll be talking all things Buffalo. They’ve got some fresh faces to their coaching staff as well, with two brand new Coordinators in DC Robert Wright, who was most recently a Senior Defensive Analyst at Duke, and DJ Mangas, the former Passing Game Coordinator at LSU in 2021 and Offensive Analyst for LSU & Joe Brady in 2019.

For Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3  | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 & 10

What will DJ Mangas & Robert Wright bring to Buffalo?:

It’s not often that in Year Three of a program, especially one that has improved Year over Year to 7-6 and a Bowl win that you have two new Coordinators. But that is the situation Maurice Linguist finds himself in this season. So, let’s take a look at who those Coordinators are.

DJ Mangas & Robert Wright:

DJ Mangas is a more established name in CFB than Robert Wright. Mangas is a disciple of Joe Brady & a part of maybe the greatest Offense in College Football history. So he comes with some significant credibility, he was also the Passing Game Coordinator at LSU Top-15 Programs in the country back in 2021 after a year with Joe Brady in the NFL.

Robert Wright has spent some time with Linguist over his career while they were both at Texas A&M. Wright as a Graduate Assistant and Linguist as a Cornerbacks Coach. But what’s interesting is that Wright has never held a position above a Senior Analyst level. Where he was in that position last season with the Duke Blue Devils, helping them to a 9-4 Season.

What will Buffalo’s Offense do against Wisconsin Football in Week 1?:

Passing Game:

The first thing that I like to do with any OC is look at how much Play-Action/RPO they run vs. Straight Dropbacks to pass. This is one of the easiest things in football to do to create confusion on the defense while passing the football. FAKE THE RUN THEN PASS.

Wisconsin football analytics opponent preview vs. Buffalo

It looks like Mangas had a healthy dose of Play-Action/RPO ~30% in 2021 as Passing Game Coordinator. Right in line with his mentor in 2019…LSU & Joe Burrow ran about 28% Play-Action/RPO passing schemes!

What about Route Concepts?

Below is a chart showing what % of ATTs each route concept is of all Passing ATTs.

It looks pretty similar to me. There are some slight differences with Mangas running a little bit more Curl, Screen, and Dig Routes. Whereas Joe Brady had a little more Slant and flat Routes as a part of his offense.

But overall, it shouldn’t be shocking that one of Joe Brady’s disciples runs a lot of the same route concepts and at the same rate as him!

Who is the Buffalo QB Cole Synder?

From his Buffalo Bio: “Transfer from Rutgers who started all 13 games in 2022, his first season with the Bulls… became just the third quarterback in program history to throw for 3,000 yards in a season… major is economics.”

So he’s got B1G talent and threw for 3,000 yards. That’s impressive stuff in any league; forget that Buffalo plays in the MAC conference.The bigger question is how does he fit into a potential Mangas passing scheme?

Looks like what Synder was asked to do under his old scheme was fairly similar. It’s not exactly the same, and where it looks like it differs the most is there are a lot fewer routes over the middle (Slants/Digs/Seams), and you’ll see why that might have been in a second. But the Dig & Slant are a big part of the Mangas/Brady Passing Scheme, so this will be something to watch!

What we see is the Drags, Digs, Posts, and Seams (Balls over the middle of the field) are really dicey throws for Synder. With INT Rates >5%, so look to see our Safteys and LBs have some opportunities to make plays on some throws over the middle on Saturday!!!

Run-Game for Buffalo:

There is a two-headed attack for Buffalo, in Mike Washington and Ron Cook Jr.; but the Badgers can’t sleep on Cole Snyder as he can be dangerous with his legs. And he’s not afraid to run it either, with over 100 ATTs last Season.

Last year, each of those 3 ran the ball on a relatively equal basis. So we need to be aware of all of them!!! But on a YPA basis, Washington and Cook Jr. do most of the damage…some of that is due to Sacks being attributed to rushing yards in College Football.

Both “Feature Backs” are about equal in YPA, and that holds true for Stuff Rate as well!!

Although Ron Cook Jr. has a slightly lower Stuff Rate. He’ll be a bit tougher to take down behind the line.

Let’s shift gears to the defense…

What will Buffalo’s Defense do against Wisconsin Football in Week 1?:

Box Heaviness Wright v. Linguist:

Robert Wright:


Wisconsin football analytics opponent preview vs. Buffalo

So, under Linguist, Buffalo loaded the box a good bit more than Wright & Duke did in 2022! We’ll see how this changes vs. Wisconsin football and Phil Longo’s offense that will look to spread them out. But how do you stop Braelon Allen by doing that? Especially when Wisconsin’s O-Line will extremely outsize their D-Line.

Coverages Wright v. Linguist:

Robert Wright:


So, under Linguist, Buffalo went a bunch more Cover 1 than Duke & Robert Wright’s influence had on their Coverages! What we know we won’t see is much of Cover 2 or Cover 4…as those were rarely used under both.

Pass Rushing Wright v. Linguist:

Robert Wright:

Wisconsin football analytics opponent preview vs. Buffalo


Very Similar between both Wright & Linguist. Although Linguist does look to send his LBs more often than Duke did under Wright’s influence. But what’s more interesting as a stat is how much pressure these players get per rush, meaning their Pressure Rate. So let’s look at that next…

Robert Wright:

Wisconsin football analytics opponent preview vs. Buffalo


Wisconsin football analytics opponent preview vs. Buffalo

This graph is very intriguing and actually scares me a bit about going up against these two defensive minds. Although they don’t send their Safety’s or CBs very often, when they do, they get really strong pressure. So, one thing I’ll be keeping a very close eye on is Blitzes from those positions!!!

Final Thoughts on Wisconsin Football going into Week 1?:

Week 1 will be a battle of who can implement their new systems the best. And that, frankly, will be too much for Buffalo to even keep this one close. I think we all expect Wisconsin football to take care of business, and Buffalo having brand new coordinators on both sides of the ball certainly doesn’t help their cause. Even with a QB who proved himself last season and one who was recruited with B1G talent.

What I am excited about is they will face a team with a defensive-minded coach who’s got Buffalo trending back to where Leipold had them. So don’t expect the Defense to be an open gate for our new offense! I’m also excited to see them go up against a competent QB in Week 1, especially with our Week 2 Matchup against Cam Ward who is extremely dynamic.

Ultimately, Week 0 and Week 1 matchups are games of unknowns. We can have an idea of what to expect, but everyone evolves year over year. They’ll throw in new wrinkles, new recruits & breakout players will rise from nowhere. FOR BOTH TEAMS! The beauty of College Football.

I can’t wait for Saturday. Vegas has the Final Score Implied this way:

Wisconsin 41 vs. Buffalo 13 with O/U at 54 & UW -28

I’d be very okay with the Final Score coming out this way!

On Wisconsin!

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Gard Your Fickell is a leading authority on Wisconsin Badgers analytics, specializing in dissecting the intricate data behind football and basketball. With a deep passion for the game and an analytical mindset, Gard Your Fickell offers readers a unique perspective on the Badgers performance.