Buffalo Preview 2006 - Further Analysis

Posted Aug 7, 2006

Buffalo Bulls Preview 2006 - Buffalo Further Analysis

1st and Ten – Turner’s Time – After a career spent mostly on the plains of Nebraska, as a player and as an assistant coach, Turner Gill is in for the challenge of his coaching career.  But, on the flip side, he could also be the best thing to happen to Buffalo football in quite some time.  Gill had the opportunity to mold All-American QBs, Tommie Frazier and Eric Crouch, and be part of the Nebraska 1990s dynasty, as well as being the leader of one of the most powerful offensive units of all time, his 1983 Husker team.  But after a year spent in Green Bay with the Packers, Gill was ready to come back to the college game.  He’s arrived in the Northeast with a 6’ X 6’ wide open canvas and an unlimited amount of paint.  He’ll have an opportunity to mold this team exactly how he desires and with little pressure, well, relatively speaking and what coach in America wouldn’t want to have carte blanche to turn a team around?  Think about it this way, two wins will be improvement over last year, but at this stage, the Bulls just have to progress week in and week out.  Gill might have been explosive with the ball in his hands, but he was tough as nails and that’s the leadership that this team will need to build a foundation for MAC success throughout his time as head coach.  It might be a bumpy ride and the learning curve is going to be steep for the new head man, but the Buffalo Bulls couldn’t have had a better situation fall right into their hands.  And, it couldn’t have broken any better for Turner Gill, either.

2nd and Seven – A Diamond in the Rough – Although the Bulls got blitzed for much of the year, giving up nearly 30 points per game, the secondary was the team’s bright spot.  The back four led the MAC in passing yardage defense, giving up only 172 yards per game in league games.  There in lies the good news for Gill and the Buffalo faithful - this unit could be even stronger in 2006.  Start at safety where Kareem Byrom and Jesse Imes return after two solid seasons.  The safety duo racked up 136 tackles and 5 interceptions between them.  The corner position needs consistency from some young players, but a number of young’uns got some experience playing early as freshmen last year.  Fans of the MAC aren’t used to seeing Buffalo’s name atop the stat sheet, but with this foursome, get used to it.

3rd and Three – Batman and Robin – Although it’d be wonderful to have an Adrian Peterson or a Marshawn Lynch to dominate the ball and carry it 25 to 30 times a game, the Bulls don’t quite have that luxury at running back.  But, what they do have is two solid ball carriers – Chris McDuffie and Jared Patterson – who can play off of one another to create a better running game than last year.  Okay, you could throw Steven King, last year’s leading rusher, into the mix as well to make it a triumvirate of pigskin carriers, although he’s listed as the first team fullback on the spring depth chart.  The Bulls’ only ran for 109 yards per game last year, a drop off of nearly 40 yards from 2004, but that should change with strong campaigns from McDuffie, who returns after missing all of 2005, and Patterson and a ‘new’ offense that should focus more on the running game.

4th and One – Buffalo’s Three Amigos – Remember the 1980’s Denver Broncos’ Three Amigos at receiver?  Ricky Nattiel, Vance Johnson and Mark Jackson?  Well, it’s quite a stretch but the Bulls have their own version of the Three Amigos at receiver with Chad Upshaw at TE, along with WRs Brett Hamlin and Evan Wallace.  Hamlin and Wallace form a solid perimeter duo, but Upshaw is the guy who completes the Amigos.  He’s one of the best tight ends in the MAC, but how his role changes this year in Gill’s offense could determine whether he’s a 50 catch a year star or a 20 catch/non-threatening weapon in the middle of the field.

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Buffalo Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 7, 2006
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Buffalo Preview 2006 - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 7, 2006

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