NCAA Football Preview - Buffalo BullsAug 24, 2011 - 5:31 PM Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - 2010 SEASON IN REVIEW: Jeff Quinn's debut at Buffalo did not exactly go as planned, as the new head coach saw his team collect just two victories, the lowest win total since 2006 (2-10).
One of the victories came in the opener for Buffalo, as the Bulls ran through Rhode Islands, 31-0. However, that win was followed by three consecutive losses to Baylor, UCF and Connecticut, and each loss was by double-figures.
The Bulls squeezed out their second win of the season when Bowling Green missed a field goal in the last seconds, giving Buffalo a two-point win. However, after that win the team went on a horrendous skid, beginning with a 31-point setback at Northern Illinois. That was followed by a 42-0 loss to Temple.
The losses kept piling up for the Bulls, as they were downed by Miami-Ohio and Ohio. Things hit a new low though over the final three games. Buffalo hosted a three-win club in Ball State, and was thumped, 20-3. That was followed by a matchup against Eastern Michigan, which entered the contest with only one win, but after playing Buffalo the Eagles doubled that.
In the season-finale Buffalo went on the road to take on a winless Akron squad, which claimed its first victory on the year at the expense of Buffalo.
OFFENSE: The Bulls' production offensively in 2010 was the worst for a Buffalo squad since 2005. Coach Quinn had to be extremely frustrated by the team's 14.2 ppg average.
Alex Wood who was the wideout coach at Miami-Ohio last year steps in as the offensive coordinator and the hope is that he can turn around an offense that was held to 10 points or fewer five times last season.
For Buffalo to take a step in the right direction though, the team will need to figure out its quarterback situation. Jerry Davis took over the starting role in 2010, but he was erratic. He completed less than 50 percent of his passes and only tossed 15 touchdowns against 16 interceptions. Also six of those INTs were returned for touchdowns, so his mistakes were amplified tenfold.
Alex Zordich took over for a time being last year, before getting hurt, and he was no better, tossing just one touchdowns against six picks. He did give the team a boost with his speed, and could be utilized again for that very reason.
Whoever is under center, they will have a couple reliable targets to aim for, beginning with Marcus Rivers. Rivers led the Bulls last year in receptions (50), yards (690) and receiving touchdowns (5), but he is not the only player that can cause trouble for opposing defensive backfields. Terrell Jackson is another senior leader that is a solid possession receiver, while Alex Neutz is coming off a great first year in which he averaged 15.9 yards per catch.
"Our best position has been our wide receiver corps," said coach Quinn. "This is an outstanding group of young men. Coaching 27 years in college football. I'm as excited about that group as I've been about anybody."
As mentioned earlier there are some question marks as to who will start at quarterback, but there is talent at the position, which might not be the case for the running back position.
As of now sophomore Brandon Oliver looks to be the best option for coach Quinn, but the tail back only averaged 2.9 yards per carry last year. Regardless of who is carrying the football it is likely the Bulls will once again struggle in this area, since the front line is extremely young. Three starters are back for Buffalo, but two of them center Jasen Carlson and left tackle Pat Wilson are only sophomores.
DEFENSE: Clearly the team's poor record in 2010 was not solely due to the lack of success offensively, as the defense for coach Quinn also had plenty of issues. Buffalo allowed 27.8 ppg last season and with only three starters back in the fold it will be interesting to see how coach Quinn will get this unit to improve instead of regress any further.
One of those starters is outside linebacker Khalil Mack. Mack was one of the most surprising players in the conference last year and finished third in Buffalo with 68 tackles, while leading the team with 10 TFLs. Now a sophomore, Mack will be looked upon as leader. Buffalo should get a boost at that position with the return of Scott Pettigrew. After racking up 97 tackles in 2009, the junior linebacker was injured last year and did not see action.
The biggest problem heading into the new season will be the defensive backfield which will likely be very inexperienced. The team will have to replace all four starters from a year ago, and coach Quinn will have to do so with freshmen and sophomores. The hope is that Cincinnati transfer Romel Dismuke will step in and be a leader, but it is very likely Buffalo's Achilles heel will be this sector of the defense.
As mentioned earlier Jackson brings senior leadership to the wide receiving corps, but he also brings a dangerous swagger to the return game. Jackson handled the kick and punt return duties last year for Buffalo and did a tremendous job. Jackson averaged nearly 20 yards per return on kick offs, and led the league with an amazing 16.7 yards per punt return. Look for him to continue to give the Bulls offense great field position.
However, not everything is bright and sunny on Buffalo's special teams, as coach Quinn will have to break in a new kicker. As of now Peter Fardon might be the kicker for UB. The Australian has a big leg, but there is just one problem; the senior has not attempted a field goal in three years. He shared punting duties with Jacob Schum last year, but now he will be counted on to make big kicks.
OUTLOOK: "We are certainly excited about starting this season on a high note. We open up at Pitt and a lot of dedication and a lot of effort has gone into improving our football program both on and off the field," said coach Quinn. "I feel real strongly that this is the kind of team that you look forward to watching when you see the UB Bulls."
Coach Quinn might be excited and rightfully so because he is the coach, but the chances of Buffalo opening the year on a high note are slim. Sure, Pitt is not a powerhouse these days, but the Panthers are a Big East team and will give Buffalo plenty to contend with.
The team gets Stony Brook in week two, but that may be the only game where the Bulls have a clear advantage. The rest of the non-conference schedule has Buffalo taking on Connecticut and Tennessee. As for the conference slate, the Bulls did not avoid any of the top schools like Northern Illinois, Miami-Ohio or Temple, and against the RedHawks and Owls the Bulls will be on the road.
If coach Quinn can figure out who will be starting under center week one and the offensive line does a better job of protecting, than the Bulls should be able to pass last year's win total. However, with that said, do not expect a huge turnaround because UB also possesses a very young defensive squad that will take its lumps throughout the season.
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