2011 Buffalo Preview – Offense
Buffalo OT Matt Ostrowski
CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - Buffalo Bulls Offense
Preview 2011 - Offense
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What You Need To Know:
The idea of the offense in Jeff Quinn's first year was to be very fast, up-tempo, and very frenetic, but the quarterbacks didn't get the memo. The nation's most inefficient passing game allowed defenses to load up against the run, and it showed as the running game averaged 3.1 yards per carry and the running backs scored just one rushing score. This year, the team is loaded with veterans led by one of the MAC's better receiving corps. However, the nation's worst scoring offense won't get much better unless the veteran line can stay healthy to pave the way for the quick backs, while the quarterback play, from either Jerry Davis or Alex Zordich, has to be night-and-day better.
Star of the offense: Senior WR Marcus Rivers
Passing: Jerry Davis
142-298, 1,753 yds, 16 TD, 16 INT
Rushing: Branden Oliver
102 carries, 298 yds, 0 TD
Receiving: Marcus Rivers
50 catches, 690 yds, 5 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior QB Jerry Davis and/or` Sophomore QB Alex Zordich
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman RB James Potts
Best pro prospect: Rivers
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Rivers, 2) WR Alex Neutz, 3) RB Branden Oliver
Strength of the offense: Receivers, Experience
Weakness of the offense: Scoring, Running
State of the Unit: With Zach Maynard transferring to Cal, the UB passing game was a disaster finishing dead last in the nation in efficiency with the quarterbacks combining to complete just 45% of their throws with 17 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. Now there will be a fight for playing time and the starting job and a few players will get their chance.
Junior Jerry Davis started the season, was replaced, and took the job back late in the year and struggled mightily with his consistency and his playmaking throwing 16 picks with 16 touchdown passes, completing 48% of his throws, but he finished third on the team in rushing with 236 yards. At 6-2 and 207 pounds, the Fresno native has good size, nice mobility, and is a dangerous dual-threat option, but he has to be consistent and he has to keep the mistakes to a minimum. The arm is there to do more with the passing game, but he's never going to be a steady thrower. His job is to make things happen on the move.
Alex Zordich stepped in part of the way through the season, but he struggled with just one touchdown pass and six picks, completing 42% of his throws, suffered a rib injury, and was out for the year. On the plus side, he ran for 150 yards and two of the team's three touchdown runs. At 6-2 and 222 pounds he has good size and was better than his passing stats might indicate.
Zordich isn't a runner and is more of a pure passer compared to Davis, while redshirt freshman Rudy Johnson is a 6-1, 198-pound speedster who'll add more flash to the equation. Senior lefty Cory Jorgensen will strictly be an emergency option. The 6-2, 215-pound walk-on has a decent arm.
Watch Out For … The coaching staff needing a while this season to settle on a regular starter. Davis is a runner and Zordich has the potential to be a solid passer. The two could end up rotating.
Strength: Options. There are dual-threat options in Davis and Johnson and Zordich could grow into a playmaking passer. The passing game stunk last year, but it was a young group that needed the year to figure out what it was doing.
Weakness: Production. There were few really big plays and the accuracy wasn't there. Three quarterbacks failed to complete half of their passes and the picks always seemed to come at the worst times.
Outlook: After finishing dead last in the nation in passing efficiency, the Bulls need to start scaring someone with the passing game. There are a few interesting options and good mobility in Davis and Johnson to worry about. The loss of Zach Maynard was a killer and someone has to step up and produce in the high-octane, up-tempo style, and more than anything else, there has to be some semblance of improvement over the course of the year.
Unit Rating: 4
State of the Unit: The ground game was a complete and utter disaster. It wasn't the worst attack in the MAC, partly due to a little help from the quarterbacks, but the running backs were all but useless as they combined for one … one … touchdown run and the team finished with three rushing scores (with two from QB Alex Zordich). There are some decent options, but they need room to move.
Sophomore Branden Oliver is a 5-8, 200-pound speedster from Miami, and after being hit with a knee injury early in spring ball of last year, he ended up leading the team in rushing … with just 298 yards averaging 2.9 yards per carry. Extremely quick, he's great at darting in and out of traffic and is the shiftiest option.
6-0, 219-pound junior Jeffvon Gill has been great when he had his chances, and the 4.3 yards per carry was the best average of the regulars. The biggest runner in the rotation, he finished second on the team with 273 yards and provides the power lost from Ike Nduka. He's tough between the tackles and has enough burst to break off big runs from time to time, but now he has to stay healthy after being dinged up most of the time.
6-0, 197-pound redshirt freshman James Potts is the talented speedster of the group and should bring some semblance of flash to a running game that desperately needs some big runs from time to time. He's not going to do much on the inside, but last year's top recruit will be used on the outside.
Watch Out For … More production. The Bulls actually have some talent in the backfield, but there wasn't any respect for the ground game with thee passing attack so sad. Teams loaded up to stop the running backs, but that should change a bit.
Strength: Quickness. Oliver is a dangerous back who just needs a little bit of a hole to make something happen. The problem is that he didn't get that hole. Potts is a flier and Gill is fast for his size. Now the production has to come.
Weakness: Touchdown runs. One. Ike Nduka ran for a score against Bowling Green, and that was it for the scores from the running backs on the ground. The backs didn't do enough for the passing game and didn't make anything happen in the red zone. That has to change in a big hurry.
Outlook: The backs were expected to be the best in the MAC outside of Temple, but the leading rusher gained fewer than 300 yards and there wasn't any consistency. The talent is in place, but will that matter? The Bulls have to start establishing the ground game early and there needs to be a good rotation of Oliver, Gill, and Potts to combine for 1,000 yards. That's not asking for the world.
Unit Rating: 5
State of the Unit: Receiver was expected to be a concern last year, but considering the struggles of the offense as a whole, the unit did a decent job with some new options stepping up and with some promise going forward with the top five targets returning.
At 6-5 and 218 pounds, senior Marcus Rivers is a matchup problem for most corners and he used his skills to be the team's leading receiver with 50 catches for 690 yards and five scores. Finally playing up to his potential, he's a No. 1 target who came up with an 81-yard scoring play against Northern Illinois and showed off enough speed throughout the season to be used more as a deep threat.
Veteran Terrell Jackson was expected to be the top receiver going into last year, and he wasn't bad finishing second with 43 grabs for 397 yards and three scores, but he failed to do much deep averaging a mere 9.2 yards per catch. A do-it-all playmaker, he can be used as a runner from time to time and is a special punt returner averaging 16.7 yards per try. At 6-0 an 195 pounds he's not huge compared to Rivers, but he's extremely quick.
As a solid No. 3 target, sophomore Alex Neutz got his feet wet last season catching 26 passes for 414 yards and four scores finishing as the team's offensive MVP. With a team-leading (among the receivers) 15.9-yard average, he can stretch the field a bit, and at 6-4 and 210 pounds he has the size to push around some smaller corners. Extremely acrobatic, he's great at making the tough catch.
6-0, 202-pound senior Ed Young finished fourth on the team with 20 catches for 194 yards, and while he didn't make that many grabs and only averaged 9.7 yards per play, he caught five touchdown passes. Sophomore Fred Lee is extremely promising average catching eight passes for 82 yards. At 6-2 and 204 pounds, he has the size to go along with good speed, while junior Saron Hood is a 6-0, 185-pound quick target who made four catches for 33 yards.
While the wide receiver situation is solid, a replacement needs to found at tight end with Michael Marr gone. On the plus side, Marr only caught four passes for 25 yards and now it'll be up to four players to take over. Sophomore Alex Dennison is a 6-2, 241-pound option who started off his career at quarterback and completed 4-of-11 passes for 30 yards with a pick last year. Senior Aaron Connacher caught three passes for 33 yards and has the 6-5, 259-pound size to be more of a factor. He's the best blocking option, while 6-5, 231-pound sophomore Jake Reeder caught five passes for 52 yards before suffering a knee problem. 6-5, 245-pound sophomore Jimmy Gordon , a star high school defensive end, is a strong target who came up with five catches for 54 yards.
Watch Out For … Dennison. A terrific athlete with good size and the smarts to adjust quickly, he could emerge from the pack of tight ends and become a weapon after a few games of action.
Strength: Experienced receivers. Last year there was little to count on, but this season the top five receivers are back and there will be plenty of options for the still-emerging quarterbacks to work with.
Weakness: The quarterbacks. The receivers turned into a plus, but the quarterbacks simply weren't accurate combining to complete fewer than half of their passes. The receivers could be great, but it won't matter if no one gets them the ball.
Outlook: This was supposed to be a problem and it turned into a positive, and now it could be one of the team's biggest strengths. There's size, speed, and options, and if the quarterback play is better, this group should shine.
Unit Rating: 5.5
State of the Unit: Injuries were a major problem last year with plenty of shifting around throughout the season. The blocking wasn't all that bad considering the problems, but the running game needs to do more and the pass protection has to be better as long as they're more consistent.
The best blocker up front should be 6-6, 322-pound senior Matt Ostroski , a big, bruising right tackle who started the first three games before breaking his leg. He has the ability to play on the left side and is a bulldozer for the ground game, but he has to get back in the swing of things after missing so much time. On the left side should be sophomore Pat Wilson , a promising 6-4, 281-pound blocker who's the best athlete among the tackles. He could stand to be a bit bigger, but he works well on the move for what the UB offense wants to do.
Senior center Josh Volanti was one of the few linemen to make it through the season unscathed. The 6-2, 288-pound former walk-on is the quarterback of the line and knows exactly what he's supposed to do up front. He's tough, smart, and experienced.
Junior Graham Whinery helped out where needed stepping in at right guard, and now the 6-4, 289-pounder should step into to a fulltime starting role. He can move to tackle if needed and is a natural center, but he'll work at one of the guard spots, while sophomore Jasen Carlson will get a long look after starting against Temple at right guard, but was hurt for most of the year. At 6-3 and 303 pounds, he's one of the biggest blockers for a line that could use his bulk inside.
At 6-7 and 317 pounds, junior Gokhan Ozkan has the size to be a major factor, but he got hurt and wasn't more than a key backup. A bit tall for a guard, he has mostly been a special teamer so far but has the size and the frame to work at tackle. He'll be a top reserve, but last year's recruiting class will provide a bulk of the depth led by 6-5, 337-pound Jeff Veinotte and 6-4, 315-pound Andre Davis , two redshirt freshmen, who should be bangers, while 6-7, 314-pound Jake Silas is a huge option at tackle for the near future.
Watch Out For … The backups. With so much size and so much promise among the redshirt freshman, it'll be tempting to get Veinotte, Davis, and Silas into the lineup as soon as possible. They're the future, and they could be the present.
Strength: Experience. If everyone is healthy, and it's a huge if, the Bulls are loaded with veterans and options to play around with. The hope will be for there to be some consistency, and that only comes with playing time for a steady front five.
Weakness: Injuries. It seemed like no one could stay healthy last year, and while there's promising options among the reserves, there will be problems if the team suffers a slew of injuries again.
Outlook: The line has size and, potentially, a nice mix of size, experience, and talented youth. The line wasn't totally miserable last year, but it wasn't a positive and it needs to do more to grind out yards for a running game that averaged just 3.1 yards per pop.
Unit Rating: 5
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