2011 Buffalo Preview
Buffalo LB Khalil Mack
Buffalo LB Khalil Mack
Posted May 11, 2011 2011 Preview - Buffalo Bulls

Buffalo Bulls

Preview 2011

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By Pete Fiutak

Hea Head coach: Jeff Quinn
2nd year: 2-10
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 23, Def. 24, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 19
Ten Best Buffalo Players
1. LB Khalil Mack, Soph.
2. DE Steven Means, Jr.
3. WR Marcus Rivers, Sr.
4. WR/PR Terrell Jackson, Sr.
5. WR Alex Neutz, Soph.
6. OT Matt Ostrowski, Sr.
7. LB Jaleel Verser, Jr.
8. FS Okoye Houston, Soph.
9. RB Branden Oliver, Soph.
10. DT Richie Smith, Sr.
2011 Schedule

Sep. 3 at Pitt
Sep. 10 Stony Brook
Sep. 17 at Ball State
Sep. 24 Connecticut
Oct. 1 at Tennessee
Oct. 8 Ohio
Oct. 15 at Temple
Oct. 22 Northern Illinois
Oct. 29 at Miami Univ.
Nov. 12 at Eastern Michigan
Nov. 19 Akron
Nov. 25 Bowling Green

Miami University. Buffalo, that's your inspiration.

Buffalo, after shocking the world and winning the 2008 MAC championship, became the reason every mediocre MAC program was able to ask, why not us? Now, after UB struggled over the last two seasons, and was among the worst teams in America by the end of a 2-10 2010 campaign, it's time to hope that everything can turn around immediately and have the same worst-to-first type of success Miami University had. But first, the offense has to start working.

Head coach Jeff Quinn took over from Turner Gill last year and was supposed to make the offense shine. Instead, the Bulls couldn't move the ball, got worse as the year went on, and finished dead last in the nation in scoring, averaging just 14.17 points per game, was 111th in total offense, and dead last in passing efficiency.

It wasn't like the Bulls were playing in the SEC West; the offense didn't work against Ball State. It came up with just 84 passing yards against Ohio. Of the 17 touchdown passes, 11 came in the first five games, and the running game only came up with three touchdowns. Three, and two came from a quarterback. The ground attack got a rushing score against Bowling Green, one against Miami University, and one against Ohio. Making matters worse, the offense couldn't count on the backfield to help out the struggling passing game, running for more than 100 yards just once in the final six games.

Buffalo might be hoping for a quick turnaround, but first, it has to start scaring someone with something from the offense. In Quinn's perfect world, the attack would be like Oregon's with plenty of speed, an up-tempo attitude, and quick striking ability. But unlike the Ducks, the Bulls have to walk before they can run. They have to simply be able to put a few points on the board, and then they can start to do all the things Quinn and the staff would like.

So now it becomes a question or whether or not last year was the proverbial step back to take a leap forward. Was there anything to be salvaged and taken from such a disaster? After spring ball, the answer might be not really. There are still question marks at quarterback, the running back situation needs to be settled, and the receiving corps needs to find playmakers. The offensive line should be better, and it could be a strength as the season goes on, and the defense that finished 32nd in the nation in yards allowed should be a plus at times.

But can UB get a few shocking performances from unlikely spots to be another Miami, or can it get a bazillion turnovers and the right breaks to be the Buffalo team of a few years ago? The pressure is off and Quinn is going to get at least a few years to try to make the program a consistent winner, but for now, it's time to find something that works. Not being Miami will be fine, but staying Buffalo isn't acceptable.

What to watch for on offense: The offensive line will start to take over a bit more. There was no push for the running game, and the pass protection was mediocre, but most of the problem was because no one could stay healthy. On the plus side, several players got their feet wet and will be ready for this year, and now the line is experienced and good. This is the year the program starts to reap the rewards of winning a championship a few years ago, and if the line can keep the same starting five together for an extended period of time, the results should come.

What to watch for on defense: The linebackers. The front three isn't going to get into the backfield, and the secondary is going to struggle after replacing several phenomenal talents, but the linebacking corps should be disruptive and dangerous, especially on the outside. Jaleel Verser and Khalil Mack are two of the MAC's best young playmakers and they should do a little of everything with the speed to rush the passer and the toughness to hold up against the run.

The team will be far better if … The running game can settle in. The quarterback situation will work itself out, and the receivers are just decent enough to get by if the passers can be merely adequate. But for the attack to start to work, there has to be something to count on from the ground attack that did next to nothing for long periods of time. Branden Oliver is a speedster from Miami, and Jeffvon Gill is a pounder who's a great option if he can stay healthy. James Potts is a speedster who can be used from time to time as a home run hitter. All that matters is that someone can be counted on game in and game out, and that should finally happen.

The schedule: The non-conference slate has a layup against Stony Brook early on to help offset tough games against Pitt, Connecticut, and Tennessee, but the key will be to be up and ready for a September 17th MAC opener against Ball State. Getting the road win is a must with October games against Ohio, at Temple, Northern Illinois, and at Miami University to follow in conference play. Starting 2-3 in the MAC would be a dream before getting an easy November going to Eastern Michigan and finishing up with Akron and Bowling Green.

Best offensive player: Senior WR Marcus Rivers. All he needs is a little bit of help from the quarterbacks, and he should shine and be one of the MAC's most dangerous receivers. At 6-4 and 218 pounds he's a big matchup nightmare, and he has just enough speed to be worried about deep. He started off the year with ten catches for 155 yards and a score, but he only made one catch in three of the final four games and couldn't get the ball because of the poor quarterback play. He has 75-catch potential, and he'll be the weapon the offense works around.

Best defensive player: Sophomore LB Khalil Mack. When the NFL is looking for a 3-4 hybrid, Mack fits the bill. He might not be a next-level talent, but he's 6-3, 241 pounds, and fast off the edge with the potential to be a tremendous situational pass rusher. He made 4.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss last year, and now he's going to be turned loose even more to be the type of playmaker who changes games around.

Key player to a successful season: Junior QB Jerry Davis and/or Sophomore QB Alex Zordich. The Bulls have to find one quarterback and stick with him. Davis has the talent and ability to make the offense dangerous, while Zordich moves well and can throw a bit. No matter who's under center, the interceptions have to stop. Davis threw 16 picks and Zordich, who threw just one touchdown pass, threw six picks. After finishing last in the nation in passing efficiency, the UB QBs can't be so bad.

The season will be a success if … The Bulls win five games. A three game improvement from last year would be a terrific step forward, but it's going to take a steady effort to make it happen. Beating Stony Brook is a must, and beating Akron and Bowling Green at home isn't asking for the world. Coming up with road wins at Ball State and Eastern Michigan are possible, and it wouldn't be a total shocker to pull off a home upset over Ohio. The chances will be there with this schedule, and UB has to take advantage of them.

Key game: Sept. 17 at Ball State. It would be nice if UB could win two MAC games in October against Ohio, at Temple, Northern Illinois and at Miami University, but realistically, just getting one victory would be a positive and going 0-4 wouldn't be a shock. Beating Ball State in the conference opener is a must to avoid an ugly start to the season and would exorcise a few demons after a miserable effort in last year's 20-3 loss.

2010 Fun Stats:
- First Quarter Scoring: Opponents 75 – Buffalo 6
- Rushing Touchdowns: Opponents 20 – Buffalo 3
- Penalties: Opponents 81 for 708 yards - Buffalo 61 for 585 yards

- 2011 Buffalo Preview | 2011 Buffalo Offense
- 2011 Buffalo Defense | 2011 Buffalo Depth Chart
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