2008 CFN Buffalo Preview
Buffalo RB James Starks
Buffalo RB James Starks
Posted Apr 18, 2008

CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Buffalo Bulls

Buffalo Bulls

Preview 2008

By Pete Fiutak

- 2008 CFN Buffalo Preview | 2008 Buffalo Offense
- 2008 Buffalo Defense | 2008 Buffalo Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Buffalo Preview | 2006 CFN Buffalo Preview

Defending MAC East champions. Actually, defending co-champions.

Considering Buffalo hasn't come up with a winning season at the D-I level since 1969, and it's been one of the worst programs in America since making the move back up in 1999, 2007 was a dream year. Almost. UB hadn't won more than three games since '99, but the 5-7 season was still hollow because the team came so close to being special.

Head coach: Turner Gill
3rd season: 7-17
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 30, Def. 23, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 16
Ten Best Bull Players
1. SS Davonte Shannon, Soph.
2. RB James Starks, Jr.
3. QB Drew Willy, Sr.
4. WR/KR Naaman Roosevelt, Jr.
5. FS Mike Newton, Jr.
6. DT Ronald Hilaire, Sr.
7. OG Jeff Niedermier, Sr.
8. WR Ernest Jackson, Sr.
9. DT Anel Montanez, Soph.
10. CB Domonic Cook. Soph.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 3-9
2008 Results:

Aug. 28 UTEP
Sept. 6 at Pitt
Sept. 13 Temple
Sept. 20 at Missouri
Sept. 27 at Central Michigan
Oct. 11 Western Michigan
Oct. 18 Army
Oct. 28 at Ohio
Nov. 4 Miami Univ.
Nov. 13 at Akron
Nov. 21 at Bowling Green
Nov. 28 Kent State

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 1-11
2007 Results:

Aug. 30 at Rutgers L 38-3
Sept. 8 at Temple W 42-7
Sept. 15 at Penn State L 45-24
Sept. 22 Baylor L 34-21
Sept. 29 at Ball State L 49-14
Oct. 6
Ohio W 31-10
Oct. 13 Toledo W 43-33
Oct. 20 at Syracuse L 20-12
Oct. 27
Akron W 26-10
Nov. 3 at Miami L 31-28
Nov. 17
Bo. Green L 31-17
Nov. 24 at Kent St W 30-23 OT

A tough 31-28 loss to Miami University ended up deciding the East tie-breaker, and a loss the next week to Bowling Green ended dreams of a .500 season, and now there are high expectations for the first time in the program's history.

Ten starters return on an improved offense, the defensive line should be better, especially at tackle, and all four starters return to a deep secondary. The linebacking corps is a problem and there's still a question about the overall talent level, allowing several newcomers to have a shot at playing right away, but all the excitement and all the promise could quickly dissipate because of one reason.

The schedule.

This might be the best team in UB history, but the entire MAC has improved and there isn't a sure win in the bunch. Home games against Temple, Army and Kent State have to be victories, and it'll take some major upsets to get over the hump and come up with a winning record.

All Buffalo can do is keep improving as a team and hope to start winning all the close games and beat the teams it's supposed to. Head coach Turner Gill is starting to put together a MAC power, even if the final record might not show it this season.

What to watch for on offense: Excellent balance. With all the returning starters, and a veteran ring-leader in senior QB Drew Willy to spread the ball around, all that's needed is a little bit of time for him to work. The decent line should provide that, while the skill trio of RB James Starks and receivers Naaman Roosevelt and Ernest Jackson should be more explosive.

What to watch for on defense: Position movement, and lots of it. The linebacking corps will be a major work in progress with at least two freshmen likely to start. The defense is built on speed and quickness over size, but the problem is there isn't nearly enough size with the safeties as big, or bigger, than some of the linebackers. There will be plenty of moves all over the place to try to get the best players on the field, and several recruits will get their chance to play right away.

The team will be far better if … the offense can keep things moving when games are still in doubt. UB outscored teams 95 to 88 in the first quarter, but was crushed 192 to 88 in the second and third. Too often the Bulls had to scramble to get back in the game, and often times it was too late.

The Schedule:
The Bulls will know where they stand in MAC play right off the bat with a mid-September game against a veteran Temple team and a road trip to Central Michigan. Playing the Chippewas and Western Michigan from the West isn't a plus, but getting Miami University at home is nice. UTEP is a bit off the wall for an opener, but it's at UB while non-conference road games at Pitt and Missouri have to be seen as tune ups for the conference season. There's a nice stretch of three weeks in October without going on the road, but back-to-back November away dates at Akron and Bowling Green might ruin any dreams of a huge year.

Best Offensive Player: Junior RB James Starks. Drew Willy is the leader of the attack who makes everything go, but Starks is the star of the show with the ability to hit the home run from anywhere on the field, and the toughness to carry it as much as needed. He's the sure-thing workhorse the offense can always go to.

Best Defensive Player: Sophomore SS Davonte Shannon. A true find from last year's recruiting class, Shannon turned into the team's best all-around defensive playmaker and will once again be an All-MAC star. A great tackler with the coverage skills of a corner, he can do it all.

Key player to a successful season: Freshman LB Obi Ezemma. There are several linebackers who'll get a shot at a starting job, and Ezemma is hardly a lock to start even after a good spring, but if he's the man in the middle, he has to become a star right away in the middle. At 6-0 and 215 pounds, he's not all that big, but he can move.

The season will be a success if ... Buffalo wins six games. It's not going to be easy. The Bulls have to win all the MAC home games, and there will have to be some upsets here and there, but the team is experienced enough and good enough to beat anyone in the MAC.

Key game: Sept. 13 vs. Temple. The Owls also have designs on 2008 being a breakthrough season, and they need to beat the Bulls in the MAC opener to have any realistic chance to get to the MAC championship. UB can't give away home games in MAC play, and simply put, the title dream ends if it loses.

2007 Fun Stats: 
- Second quarter scoring: Opponents 109 – Buffalo 45
- Kickoff return average: Opponents 22.8 yards – Buffalo 13.6 yards
- Fourth down conversions: Buffalo 13 of 25 (52%) – Opponents 6 of 21 (29%)