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2009 Buffalo Preview - Offense
Buffalo WR Naaman Roosevelt
Buffalo WR Naaman Roosevelt
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 26, 2009


CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Buffalo Bulls Offense

Buffalo Bulls

Preview 2009
- Offense


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

What you need to know: The offense 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.

Returning Leaders
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 Matt Bacoulis
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

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter: 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 rusher.

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 redshirt freshman.
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.
Rating: 5.5


Running Backs

Projected Starters: 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: Junior Brandon 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 returner. 

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 playmaker.
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.
Rating: 8

Receivers

Projected Starters: 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 as dangerous.

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 advantage.

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 stop him.
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.
Rating: 6.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: 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.

Center Chris 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.

Senior 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.

6-7, 300-pound 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.
Rating: 5