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2009 Buffalo Preview - Offense
Buffalo WR Naaman Roosevelt
CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Buffalo Bulls Offense
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What you need to know:
has a major problem on the line with three starters needing to be
replaced and there's almost no experience at quarterback, but the skill
players are terrific. RB James Starks has tremendous pro potential and
could be an All-American if he stays healthy and gets decent blocking.
Naaman Roosevelt has grown into a consistently deadly receiver who would
be the best in the MAC if he could get a steady quarterback to throw his
way. Four year starter Drew Willy is gone, but there will be more
mobility under center with Zach Maynard a good prospect who can run and
throw equally well. The MAC's second-best scoring offense isn't going to
have the same offensive pop, but with Starks and Roosevelt, the overall
production won't drop dramatically.
Passing: Zach Maynard
1-3, 7 yds
Rushing: James Starks
272 carries, 1,333 yds, 16 TD
Receiving: Naaman Roosevelt
104 catches, 1,402 yds, 13 TD
Star of the offense:
Senior RB James Starks
Player who has to step up and become a star: Senior C
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OT Matt Ostrowski
Best pro prospect: Starks
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Starks, 2) WR Naaman
Roosevelt, 3) QB Zach Maynard
Strength of the offense: Running backs, Roosevelt
Weakness of the offense: Line, Quarterback experience
Any and all quarterback controversy ended
after spring ball as sophomore Zach Maynard
showed off the arm and the mobility to be the main man for the
next three years. While the lefty isn't the purest of pocket
passers, the 6-3, 185-pounder adds another dimension to the
offense with his running ability. Drew Willy ran for four scores
last year but was -115 in net yards. Maynard, who completed one
of three passes for seven yards in his limited work, ran for 56
yards. He should end up being the second or third leading
Projected Top Reserves:
Redshirt freshman Jerry Davis
is a good all-around player who'll be a nice, dangerous backup
behind Maynard. At 6-1 and 200 pounds, he's not all that big,
but he's built like a running back and can move like one. While
he's an accurate passer, he's better throwing on the move and
making things happen with his feet. Consistency will be his key.
6-2, 205-pound sophomore Cory Jorgensen walked on to the
program and has been given every chance to win the backup job.
The lefty has a decent arm and is fast, but he'll strictly be
the No. 3, emergency quarterback and a key practice player for
the scout team.
Watch Out For ... a lot more running. Willy was a
leader and a tough veteran who made the offense go, and his
passing will be sorely missed. However, as good as he was,
opposing defensive coordinators could be more concerned now with
the running of Maynard and Davis to deal with.
Strength: Athleticism. Maynard isn't just a running quarterback;
he's a quarterback who can run and pass. Davis will be a good,
consistent passer with a little more work and with more reps.
These two were top recruits by Gill and his staff and they
should add another dimension to the UB program.
Weakness: Experience. Willy was a rock. Maynard saw time
in eight games, but his workload was minimal while Davis is a
Outlook: Willy completed 65% of his throws for,
3,304 yards with 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions, but
the quarterback situation might be even better with two
playmakers in Maynard and Davis who should grow with the attack
over the next few years. These two can run and these two should
make the Bull offense more explosive.
Senior James Starks is a
big, tough back who's getting a long, long look from
the NFL scouts after running for 1,333 yards and 16 touchdowns.
At 6-2 and 211 yards, he's a tall pounder who scores in bunches.
Two years ago he scored ten times over a five-game stretch, and
last year he scored all 17 of his touchdowns over the final ten
games with a four-game stretch with nine scores. Already the
school's all-time leading rusher with 3,140 yards and 34
touchdowns, to go along with 127 catches for 899 yards and three
scores, he can do it all with the ability to line up at receiver
from time to time. A home run hitter as well as a physical
between-the-tackles runner, all he needs it go get in the open
and he can crank out yards in chunks.
Gone is fan
favorite Chris Scharon at fullback and in steps Lawrence
Rolle, a 5-10, 248-pound senior who stepped up over the
late stages of last year and was a good blocker. he didn't
handle the ball and he's not going to be more than a lead
blocker for the ground game, but he's strong and he's physical.
Projected Top Reserves:
Thermilus, the son of former Miami Hurricane star Alonzo
Highsmith, isn't Starks, but he's an accomplished back who has
produced every time he has had the chance. At 5-11 and 224
pounds, he's a physical runner who isn't afraid of contact, but
he can also catch making 16 grabs for 117 yards last season. He
saw his workload decrease over the second half of last year, but
he was great over the first half with seven touchdowns in the
first eight games and with 454 yards on the year. He doesn't get
tackled behind the line and he's always moving forward.
Versatile, he could be used as a fullback and as a kick
Senior Mario Henry is a
very fast, very talented back who hasn't been able to find a
steady role thanks to a knee problem. He was limited last year
and ran for just 130 yards while catching five passes for 59
yards, but the 5-9, 213-pound former defensive back is a
top-shelf athlete who needs the ball in his hands more. He'll be
used more on kickoffs and as a returner.
Adding another big body at fullback is 240-pound Lawrence
Rolle, a junior who'll only see time as a blocker if
something happens to Scharon.
Watch Out For
... Henry. There's no question that Starks is the main man and
Thermilus is the No. 2, but Henry is too good a weapon to not be
used more. He hasn't cranked out many big plays, but he has the
speed and experience to be a dangerous change-of-place
Strength: Talent. Starks is the best back in the MAC and could
be a first day draft pick. If he wasn't physical enough,
Thermilus brings the power every time he's in. These two could
combine for 2,000 yards.
Weakness: Huge runs. Considering the speed of Starks and Henry,
for the UB running game to average just 3.8 yards per carry
isn't right. The O line should be just good enough to provide
room to move, and the backs need to take advantage.
Outlook: Starks is an elite talent who has to stay
healthy. He'll be the workhorse back, but the coaching staff
won't be afraid to use Thermilus more and more. Henry and
veterans Ike Nduka and Da'Von McCune
will help carry the load, while the running of QB Zach
Maynard will help take some of the attention away from Starks.
Senior Naaman Roosevelt
was able to finally focus on being just a receiver, after
working as a backup quarterback as well as a receiver (after
originally being recruited as a quarterback), he had a nice 2007
and then blew up last year with a school-record 104 catches for
1,402 yards and 13 touchdowns. Unstoppable over the second half
of last year, he went for 100 yards or more in five straight
games highlighted by a ten-grab, 116-yard, three touchdown day
against Ball State for the MAC title. He was also on the
receiving end of the Hail Mary to beat Temple. Just a receiver
again, the 6-0, 187-pounder won't better his numbers without
Drew Willy throwing the ball, but he should still be every bit
6-1, 190-pound senior Brett Hamlin will be a
good No. 2 target after finishing fourth on the team with 38
catches for 459 yards and five scores. While he didn't make too
many deep plays, he was fantastic on third down and he showed
that he's more than just a possession receiver with good
quickness and speed. Banged up early in his career with a foot
injury, that allowed him to get a fifth year. Now, the team's
leading receiver in 2005, gets another year and he should take
Back at tight end is Jesse Rack, a 6-3,
236-pound senior who showed what he could do when he's healthy
catching 21 passes for 205 yards. A good blocker with excellent
hands, he's a solid veteran who'll be a reliable safety valve
for the new quarterbacks. With his experience and route-running
ability, he can be used a lot more as a midrange target.
Projected Top Reserves: Bringing more speed to the
mix is Terrell Jackson, a 5-11, 177-pound
sophomore who redshirted last year after being a key kickoff
returner in 2007. Extremely quick, he should be able to make
things happen in the open field and he should thrive in three-wide
sets and in single coverage.
6-4, 204-pound sophomore
Marcus Rivers is a big target who should be a matchup
nightmare. A great athlete, he can be used on jump balls around the goal
line and as a deep threat. He only made two catches for 11 yards, with
both grabs coming against Central Michigan, but he'll do far more now
that there are openings in the receiving corps.
Junior Kyle Brey will once again be an
H-Back and a backup tight end who caught five passes for 31 yards. the
son of Notre Dame head basketball coach, Mike Brey, is built like a
fullback at 6-1 and 247 pounds, and he's a big-time blocker.
Watch Out For ...
Terrell Jackson. Roosevelt was so unstoppable and Ernest Jackson was so
reliable that there wasn't much room for other receivers to get into the
equation. That will change with more three and four wide sets, and
Jackson's speed should shine through.
Strength: Roosevelt. He's a the type of playmaker who can make
the quarterbacks better. Just hang the ball up in the air and let him go
get it. He'll see time at the next level, and he should be too much for
most MAC secondaries even though everyone will roll the coverages to
Weakness: Drew Willy. He was such a good veteran that he was
able to make the passing game efficient, effective, and dangerous.
That's not to say that Zach Maynard can't make things happen, but the
overall numbers should go down. The UB passing game won't come up with
over 3,000 yards again.
Outlook: The Bulls have a superstar No. 1 to work
around in Naaman Roosevelt and a reliable targets in Brett Hamlin who'll
shine. Rivers and Jackson have tremendous upside, while Rack is a good
tight end who'll come up with more than 20 grabs.
Step one will be to replace All-MAC right guard
Jeff Niedermier, and walk-on Robert Colpoys appears to
be ready. He has issues with a knee problem, but he has been good enough
to be counted on right away. No, he's not going to be Niedermier, but
he's 6-3 and 300 pounds with good run blocking skills. Can he be a
consistent pass protector? That remains to be seen.
Lauzze is gone now after a decent year as the quarterback for the front,
and now it'll be up to Matt Bacoulis to take over. At
6-3 and 316 pounds, the senior is very big and stunningly athletic. Even
with his combination of skills, he hasn't seen much time over his career
and he didn't play last year. It's not a stretch to call him the biggest
question mark on the offense.
Also needing to be replaced is Ray
Norell, a good left tackle who struggled in pass protection but was good
for the ground game. 6-7, 296-pound sophomore Matt Ostrowski
had a great spring and should be a rock for the line over the
next three seasons. He mostly saw time on special teams, but now he
should be a key pass protector with long arms and excellent upside. It's
possible that he'll be better than Norell right away.
Andrew West is back at right tackle after dominating in
the running game. At 6-6 and 314 pounds, he's very big and experienced
enough to be the anchor for the line. Now he has to be better in pass
protection. He's a good athlete for his size and he was great last year
at making big things happen for the ground game, but he still needs work
against speed rushers.
6-4, 301-pound junior Peter
Bittner is the rock of the line having started in all 26 games
since he came to campus. While he had problems this offseason with a
thumb injury, it's not considered serious and he should be fine to start
the season. A good all-around blocker, he's the road grater the offense
will run behind when needed. A star high school defensive lineman, he
knows what he's doing now and is only getting better.
Projected Top Reserves:
Senior Jordan Jerrold started for
two years at right tackle and was a nice run blocker, but he hasn't been
able to stay healthy. He missed all of last year with a knee injury, but
when he was right, he was supposed to a growing rock of the line. He's
still trying to get back healthy, and while pass protection will be a
problem considering his mobility might not be back to 100%, he's a 6-8,
307-pound blocker who knows what he's doing.
redshirt freshman Gokhan Ozkan is a promising reserve
with great size and good toughness at left tackle. While he's not going
to beat out Ostrowski for the job, he's good enough to get a look at
right tackle if West struggles at all. Eventually, he'll be a key part
of the front five.
Battling for the
starting center job is Josh Violanti, a 6-2, 264-pound
sophomore who isn't all that big, but he's quick. The walk-on has been
given every shot to win the job, but he's over 50 pounds lighter than
Bacoulis and will have to show he can be the same sort of run blocker.
Watch Out For
... Ostrowski. While he might need a little playing time before he
figures out what he's doing as the starter, he has the size and the
talent to become the star of the line.
Strength: Size. This is a massive line that averages well over
300 pounds per man. Of the projected starting five, only Ostrowski is
under 300 pounds and he's close at 296 pounds. Pounding away for the
ground game shouldn't be a problem.
Weakness: Pass protection. UB hasn't done much in pass
protection over the last few years and was 11th in the MAC last season
in sacks allowed. It didn't help having a statue in Drew Willy, but now
that there's inexperience thrown in with the pass protection problems,
there will be times when it's a free-for-all in the backfield.
Outlook: The line was a key to the great season,
even though it didn't dominate. Now it'll benefit from having a mobile
quarterback in Zach Maynard to block for, and it'll have problems
fighting through the growing pains. The line has the potential to be
strong late in the year, but it might take a while with three new
starters and little developed depth.