2014 Buffalo Preview: What You Need To Know

Posted May 31, 2014

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2014 Buffalo Preview

What You Need To Know...

- 2014 Buffalo Preview 
2014 Depth Chart & Unit Rankings To Come This Summer

What You Need To Know About The Offense: Don't expect explosion or anything special from offensive coordinator Alex Wood's offense, but it should be just effective enough to roll against the mediocre defenses. It's going to take a little bit of tweaking and reloading, but the main goal will be to get the ground game working, let the defense take care of things, and keep the mistakes to a minimum. The top receivers are gone along with workhorse back Branden Oliver, but QB Joe Licata is growing into a good one who can be fantastic with a little bit of time and if the receivers rise up in a hurry. It's a big, promising line that should be strong on the left side.

What You Need To Know About The Defense: Defensive coordinator Lou Tepper's D will take a step back, but it should still be a positive. Superstar linebacker Khalil Mack is done, but six starters return to one of the MAC's better defenses. The 3-4 alignment should be strong up with middle with NG Kristjan Sokoli and inside linebackers Lee Skinner and Jake Stockman three of the team's top players, but the ends and secondary are a bit of a concern. Adam Redden and Cortney Lester are good hitters in the defensive backfield that did a great job of keeping the big plays to a minimum while forcing plenty of mistakes.

Player You Need To Know

1. LB Lee Skinner, Sr.
All of the focus and attention was trained on Khalil Mack – and rightly so – but Skinner, a 6-2, 233-pound senior was terrific on his own and should be on the short list for all-star honors. He finished second on the team behind Mr. Mack making 79 tackles with a pick and three tackles for loss, showing good toughness against the run taking care of everything his running mate didn't get to. A tough, dependable hitter on the inside, he can get behind the line if needed, making five sacks in 2012, and now he should be even better as the main man for the linebacking corps.

2. LB Jake Stockman, Sr.
As part of a good rotation, the 6-2, 237-pound interior defender grew into the role last season making 43 tackles with a sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss after coming up with 59 stops and 2.5 sacks two years ago. A spot starter so far, he should blow up now that he'll see more time and will get an even bigger role. Very strong and tough as nails against the run, he'll come up with a huge statistical season.

3. QB Joe Licata, Jr.
The quarterback situation was a bit up in the air going into last season with Licata and Alex Zordich each looking to get a little time in a rotation, but Licata turned out to be too good to take off the field completing 58% of his passes for 2,824 yards with 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The 6-2, 226-pound local product isn't going to run much, but he's a high-powered passer who struggled a bit late in the season against Bowling Green and San Diego State in the two big games to close things out, but he was red hot against Toledo throwing for 497 yards and four touchdowns and hitting the 200-yard mark five times.

4. OG Andre Davis, Sr.
The one-time defensive tackle has turned into a blaster of a blocker on the inside. At 6-4 and 320 pounds he has the bulk, and now he's way past a knee injury that limited him early on in his career. A potential all-star power, he's a blaster for the ground game and isn't bad in pass protection. Able to work as a tackle or a guard, he'll be the star of the line no matter where he plays. A left tackle a few years ago, he's better on the inside.

5. CB Cortney Lester, Sr.
The 6-0, 182-pound senor started out his career at wide receiver, but he has turned into a whale of a defensive back making 32 tackles with three picks and six broken up passes. A playmaker, he has good size after bulking up a bit, tremendous speed, and he knows what he's doing as the No. 1 cover-corner. While he's not going to provide the big hit, he's a great open field tackler. One of the team's fastest players, he can handle the speed receivers without a problem.

6. RB Anthone Taylor, Jr.
With heart-and-soul running back Branden Oliver and his 1,535-yard, 15 touchdown season over, it'll now be up to the talented Taylor to take on a bigger role. The 5-10, 209-pounder has a good build with nice athleticism and speed, rushing for 399 yards and three touchdowns while catching seven passes in a reserve role. When needed, he stepped in for a banged up Oliver running for 154 yards on 17 carries against Miami University, and he ripped up Stony Brook for 118 yards and two touchdowns. He'll be the workhorse early on.

7. C Trevor Sales, Sr.
The former Delaware State transfer has turned into a steady starter over the last two seasons, starting his last 25 games, with massive 6-2, 327-pound size and terrific toughness for the ground game. Really, really strong, he's never getting moved off the pivot and has grown into a fantastic leader up front. It's his line to run.

8. NG Kristjan Sokoli, Sr.
The anchor on the inside, he's starting to get into the backfield more making 2.5 sacks last season along with 29 tackles and five tackles for loss. The 6-5, 300-pound veteran can move a little bit for his size, seeing time early in his career as a potential defensive end before locking up on the nose. He bulked up a wee bit over the last few years to hold up better on the inside, and now he's going to be one of the biggest keys to a strong run defense.

9. RB/KR Devin Campbell, Jr.
While he's used a bit as a running back, taking off for 502 yards and two touchdowns in 2012 and running for 21 yards and two scores last year, he's even stronger as a receiver catching 40 passes for 376 yards and a score in his first two years. The 5-11, 205-pound veteran make his biggest mark as a return man, ripping off 23.9 yards per kickoff per try with a touchdown against Eastern Michigan. He only averaged 4.8 yards per punt return, but he can move and potentially do more. He'll be used on a more regular basis for the offense.

10. TE Matt Weiser, Jr.
The Bulls are strong at tight end with good receiver Mason Schreck combining forces with the 6-5, 241-pound Weiser, who turned into a good-blocking starter while making 13 catches for 154 yards and a score. Schreck came up with 17 catches for 147 yards and two scores, and he's a bit more athletic, but Weiser delivers the bigger pop.

- 2014 Buffalo Preview