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2013 Pre-Season Preview: Buffalo Bulls

2012 Record: 4-8 (3-5 in MAC)

2012 Preview

Head Coach: Jeff Quinn (Fourth Year at Buffalo, 10-28 All-Time)

Last Bowl Game: 2009 International Bowl: Lost to UConn 38-20

Stadium: University at Buffalo Stadium in Amherst, NY (capacity = 29,013)

Home Field Advantage: ranked 40th out of 55 mid-major teams

 

Schedule Glimpse:

2013 Schedule Link

Revenge: 10/26 at Kent St, 11/5 vs Ohio, 11/12 at Toledo, 11/29 vs Bowling Green

Swing Games: 10/12 at WMU, 11/19 at Miami (OH)

Tough Out of Conference Foes: 8/31 at Ohio State, 9/7 at Baylor, 9/28 vs UConn

 

Statistical Snapshot:

2012 Statistics Link

Stats to Fear: converted just 33.87% of third downs (12th in MAC), scored on 69.44% of trips to red zone (11th in MAC)

Stats to Cheer: had 2.83 sacks per game (2nd in MAC), held opponents to 36.96% on third down conversions (3rd in MAC)

Advanced Stats (Football Outsiders 2012 FEI Ranking): 91st out of 124 teams

 

Personnel:

Phil Steele's Returning Starters: Offense: 9, Defense 7, Special Teams 2

Key Defensive Returnees: LB Khalil Mack (94 tackles, 8 sacks), LB Lee Skinner (89 tackles, 5 sacks), LB Jake Stockman (59 tackles, 2.5 sacks), DL Colby Way (58 tackles, 7 sacks), DB Najja Johnson (43 tackles, 5 INT), DB Cortney Lester (39 tackles, 4 INT)

Key Offensive Returnees: RB Branden Oliver (821 yds rushing, 5.55 ypc), Alex Neutz (65 rec, 1015 yds receiving, 11 TD)

Top Recruits: WR jamarl Eiland, WR DuBois Ross

 

Inside Scoop with Tim Riordan of Bull Run:

CFBZ: Jeff Quinn is 9-27 so far at Buffalo and is slowly improving the Bulls. In year four, what are the expectations for Quinn and the Bulls?
 
Bull Run: Jeff Quinn's boss just fired one of the longest tenured and most successful basketball coaches in UB history. A coach who still had some years left on his contract. So contract extension or not I believe if he comes in shy of 7 wins his job in in terrible danger, if he is under 5 I think he will be looking for a job.

UB is starting to put a lot of money into facilities and advertising in an attempt to improve the game day experience in Amherst. All they need now is a winning team.

The reality is that UB's schedule is not that forgiving. Ohio State and Baylor are David and Goliath games and UB has not had a lot of luck with UConn. That means Buffalo needs to pull six wins in conference, with the players they are returning it is possible but I would be surprised Buffalo clears six wins.

 

CFBZ: Alex Zordich and Joe Licata both saw time last year at QB. Who do you think will get the football this fall?

Bull Run: The job is Licata's to lose. He has taken a huge majority of the first team snaps through the spring and was 3-1 as a starter last season. Beyond this he is a far better passer than Alex Zordich. It's a running Quarterback versus a pocket passer and UB's depth at half back makes the passer more important.

 

CFBZ: Buffalo has some good offensive talent like Alex Neutz and Brandon Oliver. Who are some players that need to step up for the Bulls if they want to take the next step under Quinn?

Bull Run: It's going to fall on the right side of the line. Whoever is filling in for UB Graduates Gokhan Ozkan and Graham Whinery are going to determine if the offense continues to move forward. Right now that looks to be Jake Silas and Dan Collura.

Offensive linemen don't get their names that get called out a lot but without them nothing happens.

 

CFBZ: What will make the 2013 season a success in your eyes?

Bull Run: Seven wins and a bowl trip. Quinn has had his three years to draft and train his players so the excuses have to stop. He has one of the best linebackers in the country also a top running back. Buffalo also has a couple of quality receiving options. 

After this year UB loses a lot of that. Mack, Oliver, and Neutz among others prompting a **shudder** rebuilding season.

 

Verdict:

Jeff Quinn is in his fourth year as coach for the Buffalo Bulls and the fans and administration see this as the time to start winning. After starting off 1-7 last season with a couple of close calls (Toledo and UConn), the Bulls finished strong going 3-1 in their last four. 

According to Phil Steele, the Bulls have the second most returning starters in the MAC (behind only Bowling Green) so the experience is there. Tim referred to next year being a potential "rebuilding" year so this really is the year that the Bulls have been building to for a while. There are nine returning starters on offense including Alex Neutz and Branden Oliver and if you watched Buffalo last year you know they have the ability to be special players. The key to the season will be sophmore QB Joe Licata. He played well last year down the stretch. Can he improve this season and get the Bulls to their first bowl game since 2009?

The defense returns three players off of Phil Steele's 2012 All-MAC first and second teams in Khalil Mack, Colby Way and Najja Johnson. They return three of their four leading sackers, their two leading interceptors, four of their top five tacklers and eight of their top ten tacklers. Worst case scenario, the defense will be slightly better than last season. Can it be a difference maker in a league filled with offense?

Things are looking up for the Bulls this season. If they can survive their early schedule (Ohio State, Baylor and UConn in their first four) with their confidence in tact, they will be a factor in the MAC. Expect Buffalo to start off the season at 1-3. Some good news on the schedule is NIU (who beat Buffalo 45-3 last season) comes off the schedule. They follow the tough early schedule with EMU, a rebuilding WMU and UMass. All of those should be wins and would put the Bulls at 4-3 with five games left. Can they go 2-3 in their final five against Kent St, Ohio, Toledo, Miami and Bowling Green? They went 1-4 against those teams last year but had close calls with Toledo and Ohio. I think they can win at least two and I peg this team at 6-6 with the possibility of going two games in either direction.  If Licata finds his groove and the defense improves, I could see this team at 7-5 and going bowling.

 

 

Previous 2013 Pre-Season Previews:
 
C-USA- FAU
 
Independent: Georgia StateOld Dominion
Kevin Causey

About Kevin Causey

dry humorist, beer snob, occasionally unbiased SEC fan, UGA alumni, contributor for The Student Section and founder of College Football Zealots

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