- 2009 CFN Buffalo
Preview | 2009 Buffalo
- 2009 Buffalo
Defense | 2009 Buffalo
2008 UB Preview |
2007 UB Preview |
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Head coach: Turner Gill
4th season: 15-23
Off. 25, Def. 25, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 18
Best Bull Players
1. RB James Starks, Sr.
2. WR Naaman
3. SS Davonte Shannon, Jr.
4. FS Mike
5. LB Justin Winters, Jr.
6. QB Zach
7. LB Darius Willis, Fr.
8. CB Domonic
9. WR Brett Hamlin, Sr.
10. RB Brandon Thermilus,
2009 Record: 0-0
9/5 at UTEP
9/19 at UCF
9/26 at Temple
10/3 Central Michigan
10/24 at Western Mich
10/31 OPEN DATE
11/3 Bowling Green
11/18 at Miami Univ.
11/27 at Kent State
2008 Record: 8-6
8/28 UTEP W 42-17
9/6 at Pitt L 27-16
9/13 Temple W 30-28
9/20 at Missouri L 42-21
9/27 at Central Mich L 27-25
10/4 OPEN DATE
10/11 West Mich L 34-28 OT
Army W 27-24 OT
10/28 at Ohio W 32-19
11/4 Miami Univ. W 37-17
11/8 OPEN DATE
11/13 at Akron W 43-40 4OT
11/21 at BGSU W 40-34 2OT
Kent State L
12/5 MAC CHAMPIONSHIP
Ball State W 42-24
1/3 Connecticut L 38-20
came together for Buffalo to not only get to the MAC title game, but to
ruin Ball State's dream season, win the championship, and get to a bowl
game. As great as that was, now the question becomes whether or not the
program has staying power. At the very least, the head coach has staying
power ... for the moment.
In the biggest upset of 2008, Turner
Gill stayed with Buffalo. Whether or not the rumors are true that he
didn't interview well, it doesn't matter. He came up with a building job
(it wasn't a rebuilding job, since the program had never done anything
before he got there) on par with anything in the recent history of
college football. Remember, Buffalo football was non-existent. It was
one of the nation's biggest doormats on a yearly basis, and it wasn't
even on the map.
It took a few years of good recruiting, a
four-year starting quarterback in Drew Willy, a couple of NFL-caliber
playmakers in RB James Starks and WR Naaman Roosevelt, and every good
break in the book.
When you're Buffalo, and you've spent years
getting shoved around by the world, you're owed a few four-leaf clover
moments. To be fair, good teams make their own breaks, and UB certainly
did its part with an aggressive defense that forced a ton of turnovers
and an offense that didn't give it away. However, there was a Hail Mary
to beat Temple, three overtime victories, and a few unbelievable bounces
on turnovers in the MAC championship game. Can UB get the same breaks
twice, and more to the point, can it make the positive things happen
again? Gill certainly believes so.
Buffalo might have a great
attitude, thanks to Gill, but it doesn't hurt that the talent is
starting to shine through. Willy might be gone, but Starks and Roosevelt
are back to lead the offense. The defense that struggled so much last
year might not have much to count on up front, but it has a slew of
young, athletic prospects on the end, a veteran linebacking corps, and a
great secondary led by the MAC's best safety tandem of Davonte Shannon
and Mike Newton.
Buffalo won a share of the MAC East title in
2007, won the MAC in 2008, and has a good team returning in 2009. With
Gill still the head man, and not at Auburn or some other big name
school, this is still the team to beat in the division.
What to watch for on offense:
Mobility at quarterback. Drew Willy might have been a fantastic leader
and a great passer, but he wasn't a runner. Zach Maynard is an excellent
dual-threat quarterback, while backup Jerry Davis can move, too. The
rushing attack that was so reliant on James Starks last year, and
Brandon Thermilus early on, will get a big boost and should finish with
well over 2,000 yards as a team (after netting 1,858 last year).
What to watch for on defense: The redshirt freshmen defensive
ends. The Bull back seven is loaded with experience and proven
producers, but the line has to be better. Far better. It'll all start
with more of a pass rush from a few new ends that will upgrade the
athleticism of the defensive front. Jaleel Verser, Steven Means, and
Willie Moseley are all very quick and very promising. They need to camp
out in the backfield, or the defense won't see any major improvement.
The team will be far better if … the defensive line can do
something positive. The biggest shocker out of the championship season
was how the Bulls were able to produce and come up with the big year
despite getting little to nothing out of the front four. There's
turnover on the ends, but that's not a bad thing. The tackles have to be
far stronger against the run and there has to be a little collapsing of
The Schedule: On the plus side, the Bulls have a
nice midseason stretch of five home games in six, but that means there
are road games to deal with starting out away from home in three of the
four September games and in the final two games of the year at Miami and
Kent State. The worst break is the draw from the West, getting the two
best teams, Central Michigan (at home) and Western Michigan (on the
road). The non-conference schedule is hardly a killer, with the toughest
game at home against Pitt to go along with road games at UTEP and UCF
and a home battle against Gardner-Webb.
Best Offensive Player:
RB James Starks. WR Naaman Roosevelt might be the most dangerous
playmaker, but Starks is now the offense. Not just a power runner, he's
a special receiver with the build to work on the outside as a wide
receiver and the hands to be one of the team's top pass catchers. He was
second on the team in receptions last year and ran for 1,333 yards and
16 scores. The NFL types have him on the radar; he could be a top 100
pick next year.
Best Defensive Player: Junior SS Davonte Shannon.
How's this for the first two years to start a career? 244 tackles, 16
tackles for loss, four interceptions and four forced fumbles. He's one
of the nation's most active tackling safeties, and while he needs to be
better when the ball is in the air, he doesn't miss a stop and he's
always in on every play. Not just flashy, he's consistent. He doesn't
have a bad game.
Key player to a
Sophomore QB Zach
Maynard. The lefty won't throw for 3,304 yards and 25 touchdowns like
Drew Willy did, but he could throw for 2,000 yards and run for 500 more.
He's an accurate passer who'll keep defenses on their toes with his
speed and mobility. Most importantly, he has to keep the mistakes to a
minimum. Willy only threw six interceptions, but he was a four year
starter. If Maynard can have a 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio,
he'll have a good season.
The season will be a
... Buffalo wins the East again. Getting Central Michigan and Western
Michigan from the West won't help, but if UB can split the two games,
the potential is there for another great season with Akron and Bowling
Green, two of the East's best teams, coming to UB Stadium. 5-2 in MAC
play should get it done, and this team is good enough to do it.
Sept. 26 at Temple. If
it's close to as good as last year's thriller, with Buffalo answering a
late Temple scoring drive with a Hail Mary for the win, it'll be one of
the best games of the year. It's also a tone-setter for the Bulls
considering it's not just the MAC opener, but it's a key game against
the East with Central Michigan, the best team in the league going into
the season, coming up the following week.
2008 Fun Stats:
- Fumbles: Opponents 38 (lost 25) - Buffalo 16 (lost 8)
- Fourth down
conversions: Buffalo 18-of-24 (75%) - Opponents 12-of-27 (44%)
Sacks: Opponents 30 for 193 yards - Buffalo 14 for 97 yards