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2007 Buffalo Preview - Defense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 15, 2007


Preview 2007 Buffalo Bulls Defense

Buffalo Bulls

Preview 2007 - Defense
 

- 2007 Buffalo Preview | 2007 UB Offense Preview
-
2007 UB Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Buffalo Preview 


What you need to know:
Last year was a big transition year with several young players getting time as the scheme was switched from a 4-2-5 to a 4-3. Size is sacrificed for speed almost everyone, but there are big backups at tackle. Now the production against the run has to be better. Getting into the backfield won't be an issue as UB could be among the MAC's leaders in sacks and tackles for loss led by senior Trevor Scott on the end. The secondary has the potential to be far better if safeties Kareem Byrom and Mike Newton, along with rising corner Kendric Hawkins, can spend all their time trying to make plays against the pass instead of always having to deal with the run.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Ollice Ervin, 96
Sacks: Trevor Scott, 9
Interceptions: Mike Newton, 5

Star of the defense: Senior DE Trevor Scott
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior LB Jamal Chisam
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore DT Dane Robinson
Best pro prospect: Sophomore CB Kendric Hawkins
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Scott, 2) LB Ollice Ervin, 3) FS Kareem Byrom
Strength of the defense: Experience, pass rush
Weakness of the defense:
Linebacker, size in the front seven

Defensive Line

Projected Starters: Former tight end Trevor Scott stepped in and immediately became the team's sackmaster cranking out nine along with 13.5 tackles for loss and 45 total stops. The senior is an athletic 6-5 and 258 pounds and should only be better with all the returning experience around him to take some of the pressure off. When he gets a step on a tackle, he's making a play in the backfield.

On the other side will be junior Chris Callahan, a reserve last season making 13 tackles and a sack as a linebacker. He'll move to the defensive line to try to bring some speed and quickness to the defensive front. He won't do much against the run, but he should be able to get into the backfield.

The tackles have to be better against the run, but that could be a problem with little size among the starters. 6-6, 262-pound senior James Judges can play either inside or out finishing with 27 tackles and three sacks after getting his weight back on following a bout with mono two years ago. The former tight end's job will be to use his quickness to be an active defender at tackle and get into the backfield.

6-2, 267-pound Dane Robinson is more of an end playing tackle making 13 tackles and two sacks last year. If he's not applying pressure, he's not going to be effective on the inside.

Projected Top Reserves: With the tackles so light, it'll be up to 290-pound sophomore Anel Montanez and 288-pound junior Ronald Hilaire to provide more bulk in the middle. Staying in shape is the key for Hilaire, who slimmed down a bit last season and made 20 tackles getting the start in eight games. Montanez will play behind Robinson after making nine stops as a reserve.

At one end, 6-5, 259-pound sophomore Bruno Lapointe is a tremendous athlete who has yet to see any playing time. He'll back up Scott as a pure pass rusher.

Sophomore Tom Drewes and senior Andre Smith will combine to play behind Callahan. Smith hasn't been able to stay healthy struggling through a leg problem that cost him almost a year and a half.

Watch Out For ... the pass rush to be among the best in the MAC. All four spots on the front line can move with Scott on the way to becoming an All-MAC star. The line will sacrifice size to make plays.
Strength:
Quickness. Basically, the line has four ends manning the front line. Against the teams that don't run with much power, they'll be in a little bit of trouble.
Weakness
:
Size. Teams with big, talented offensive lines should be able to power away at will. If Hilaire and Montanez aren't players, there will be big problems.
Outlook: With so much experience returning, the production should be better. UB will be one of the MAC's leaders in tackles for loss and sacks, but it'll be at the expense of the run defense. The problem with the Bulls in the past was that they couldn't do anything well, and now they can do one thing really, really well. Now they need to be more well-rounded.
Rating: 5


Linebackers

Projected Starters: Senior Ollice Ervin was fantastic last season finishing second on the team with 96 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss, and now he'll have to be even better as the only returning starter. He's a do-it-all defender with the speed to keep shining on the outside, and the toughness and size at 232 pounds to play in the middle if needed.

Taking over on the inside will be junior Jamal Chisam, a former safety who's only 5-11 and 208 pounds, but is tough. He'll have to prove he can hold up on a regular basis after making just one tackle.

On the outside, senior Larry Hutchinson spent time last season alternating between being a backup lineman and outside linebacker. He's only 212 pounds, but he's tough and speedy.

Projected Top Reserves: At 6-1 and 244 pounds, senior Todd Robertson is a far bigger option on the inside behind Chisam. While not nearly as fast, he has experience making ten tackles. He'll spend most of his time on special teams along with being the team's biggest linebacker.

Former JUCO transfer David Hubbard is purely a backup on the outside playing behind Ervin after making 11 tackles in five games.

JUCO transfer Adekunle Akingba was a star for Nassau CC over the last two years. With tremendous athleticism, he'll play an immediate role on the outside.

Watch Out For ... the corps to desperately miss Jeff Bublavi and Ramon Guzman. They might not have been the best defenders around, but they made a whole bunch of plays cleaning things up behind a porous offensive line.
Strength:
Ervin. A bit overshadowed last season, now he'll be the star of the linebacking corps and he should crank out an All-MAC caliber season. He'll be all over the field making plays.
Weakness
:
Experience. There's no sure thing other than Ervin to rely on. Chisam and Hutchinson can run, but can they hold up for a full season against the pounding running teams? That remains to be seen.
Outlook: By design, this is a smallish corps with three safeties manning the spots. They can all run and will all be all over the field, but can they make plays at the point of attack and make the run defense better? Ervin will do his part; it'll take a good rotation at the other two spots for the defense to make a big improvement.
Rating: 4.5


Defensive Backs

Projected Starters: The safeties return, and now they have to use their experience to start making more plays. Sophomore Mike Newton is back at strong safety after making 60 tackles and leading the team with five interceptions. While he's not all that big at 5-10 and 195 pounds, he's fast. The former cornerback used his athleticism to make up for several mistakes, and now that he knows what he's doing, he should be more consistent against the run and should be in better position against the pass.

Senior Kareem Byrom has the best overall skills on the UB defense. He has range, big hitting ability, and great tackling skills with 173 stops over the last two seasons. Now he has to do more when the ball is in the air after spending all his time trying to help out against the run. How tough is he? Despite only being 5-10 and 200 pounds, he played linebacker times last year.

The team's rising new star is sophomore Kendric Hawkins, who plays like a safety at corner finishing fourth on the team with 70 tackles to go along with eight tackles for loss, two interceptions and five broken up passes. While he had several problems in pass coverage as a freshman, he has the skills to become a top cover-corner for the next three seasons.

Junior Andre Evans has a little bit of experience starting the final three games of last season making nine tackles. While he's not Hawkins as a football player, he has the speed to stay with any receiver in the MAC and should be a great leader.

Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Sherrod Lott will be one of the team's top reserves if he doesn't beat out Evans for a starting corner job after making 33 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. While he didn't do anything against the pass, that should change now that he has his freshman year behind him.

Junior corner Keon Perry made eight stops in ten games. He has great quickness, but he has to prove he can cover someone one on one.

Free safety Chris Storr saw a little bit of work making ten tackles, and now will be a key reserve behind Byrom and could see time in nickel situations.

Watch Out For ... the overall production to be better. The team had to fight through the inexperience and youth of last year, and now there's enough experience to be better after finishing 117th in the nation in pass efficiency defense.
Strength:
Potential. Hawkins, Byrom and Newton have the potential to form one of the league's best trios of defensive backs, while Evans has enough athleticism to make some big plays here and there.
Weakness
:
Playmaking corners against the pass ... maybe. Hawkins, Evans and Lott can tackle, but can they pick off passes? Five of the team's ten picks came from Newton, and now someone has to show they can come up with a few interceptions.
Outlook: There's enough experience to be far better, but it still might be another year until all the young players grow into their potential. As long as teams continue to run the ball at will, the overall yardage numbers will be fine. Making more plays on short to midrange throws will be the key.
Rating: 4.5

Special Teams

Projected Starters: The return game should be fantastic with the return of quarterback/receiver Naaman Roosevelt, who averaged 13.1 yards per return on 11 punt returns and an impressive 25.9 yards per kickoff return. Now the kicking game has to be as good.

Gone is Adam Tanalski, who took over and hit six of seven field goal attempts, and in comes junior Gerry McGroarty, who hit two of six field goals in 2005. He has a big leg, but he has to prove he can be consistent.

Senior punter Ben Woods struggled averaging just 38 yards per kick putting 13 inside the 20. With plenty of chances to kick over the last two seasons hitting 147 punts, but he hasn't aired many out. He has enough of a leg to handle kickoffs and be solid, but he has little blast on his punts.

Watch Out For ... the coaching staff to be in a bit of a quandary when it comes to Roosevelt. Even if the sophomore doesn't win the starting quarterback job, he still might be too valuable to risk using as a kick returner with no number three quarterback option to go to. On the flip side, Roosevelt is the team's most explosive player and one of the nation's best all-around return men.
Strength:
Roosevelt. For an offense that struggles as much as Buffalo's does, getting good field position is a must, which is why ...
Weakness
:
... the punting has to be better. Woods gets used far too often to not be more of a weapon. He has to do a better job of pinning teams deep, and he has to bail the team out of more jams with a big kick.
Outlook: The kicking game has to be better than it appears. Everyone will be holding their collective breath every time McGroarty kicks until he proves he can be consistent. You know what you're getting with Woods, and if Roosevelt isn't the main man, the coaching staff will have to scramble to find returners. Kade Pittman will likely get work on kickoff returns. The coverage units could stand to be better.
Rating: 5

 

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2007 Buffalo Preview - Depth Chart
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