College Football Preview: The 2014 Buffalo Bulls
The Buffalo Bulls must overcome the loss of key talent to make a run at another Bowl.
2014 College Football Preview
The Buffalo Bulls must find a way to replace a bevy of lost talent to earn a second straight Bowl invitation.
Overview: Khalil Mack is the most notable loss for Buffalo but certainly not the only player that helped the Bulls to the Potato Bowl last season. RB Branden Oliver and WR Alex Neutz on offense and Najja Johnson and Okoye Houston in the defensive backfield each had a hand in the team's success and they weren't the only ones. Throw in several new assistants that left for bigger names and HC Jeff Quinn has his back against the wall with the expectations of another postseason appearance.
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Offense: Yes Oliver and Neutz are gone along with All MAC G Jasen Carlson but fortunately Joe Licata is back under center and brings over 2,800 passing yards with him. His 58% completion rate was on the low side but this could be a disaster without him. The bad news is finding someone to throw to with no stretch the field threat. Devon Hughes and Boise Ross caught a combined 20 balls in 2013 and they are the top two returning wide receivers so expect UB to be looking to bolster that area heading in to the fall. The offensive line will lean on the guard and center combo of Andre Davis and Trevor Sales who combine with four others that have experience. The running game will feature Anthone Taylor who totaled almost 400 yards and five yards per touch in 2013 with Devin Campbell moving in to the role of second option.
Defense: If you didn't know about Khalil Mack, I'm sure you do now as he'll be plying his wares on Sunday's. Buffalo won't be able to replace the star linebacker but they get back OLB Adam Redden (51 T) and Lee Skinner (57 T) although ILB Blake Bean transfered to North Texas. The Bulls do have some experience here and a trio of three star recruits to lean on. The line lost both ends and Mack so an outside rushing presence is a big question mark but 300 pounders Kristjan Sokoli and Dalton Barksdale provide some beef at NG. CB Cortney Lester and SS Derek Brim will be the backbone of the secondary with counterparts Johnson and Houston gone.
Special Teams: Tyler Grassman averaged 40 yards on 71 punts and Patrick Clarke hit on 13-20 FG but was just 5-10 outside of 40 yards. Devin Campbell will be the primary returner and is dangerous on kickoffs although the Bulls will be looking for secondary options on both kick and punt returns.
Outlook: The 2014 Bulls could be an interesting story with a schedule that has a potential 6-7 wins. The most glaring weakness is at receiver and on defense where the Bulls were outstanding a year ago. The team is not void of talent but it seems as if too much has to go in their favor to go Bowling once again but if they win the games they should it's possible.