2008 Buffalo Bulls Football Preview
Buffalo Bulls - Mid-American Conference (East)
Buffalo 2007 Record: (5-7, 5-3 MAC)
2007 Bowl: none
UB Head Coach: Turner Gill (7-17 at Buffalo, 7-17 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Turner Gill
Defensive Coordinator: Jimmy Williams
Returning Leaders for the UB Bulls:
Other Key Returnees: DE Chris Callahan, CB Domonic Cook, WR Brett Hamlin, DT Ronald Hilaire, WR Ernest Jackson, G Jeff Niedermier, TE Jesse Rack, DT Dane Robinson, CB Josh Thomas
Key Losses: LB Kareem Byrom, LB Ollice Ervin, LB Larry Hutchinson, C Jamey Richard, DE Trevor Scott, P Ben Woods
After a 5-3 conference slate in the 2007, Buffalo and Coach Turner Gill are poised to make a serious run at a MAC title. With ten starters returning on offense and eight on defense, the Bulls have the experience to improve on last year’s surprise season. But is there really enough talent to take on teams like Central Michigan?
Buffalo's 2008 Strengths:
At times, too many times, the offense struggled to move the ball. But that might end now that the young unit has grown up. Running back James Starks has the potential to be very special after rushing for 1,103 yards and 12 touchdowns as a sophomore and got better with just about every game. His backup, Brandon Thermilus, had a great spring and will be a more than capable runner when Starks needs a break. If Starks and Thermilus are as dominating as they can be, the offense will move with much more consistency behind a line that returns four starters. Quarterback Drew Willy is not particularly flashy, but he is a smart player who will keep the turnovers down and effectively run the offense.
Buffalo's 2008 Weaknesses:
The defense might still be the strength of the team, but there are a few holes that need to be filled. Defensive end Trevor Scott and linebacker Larry Hutchinson combined for 15.5 of the team’s 23 sacks. The Bulls will find a way to get pressure on the quarterback, but it will not be as easy without those two. Replacing Hutchinson and fellow linebacker Ollice Ervin is the biggest concern and the coaching staff might reach into the secondary once again to find replacements. That will lead to an undersized linebacker corps that will have a hard time stopping the run. The secondary got thrown all over last season and corners Josh Thomas and Domonic Cook need to continue to improve after being forced into action as freshmen.
The Bottom Line for the UB Bulls:
Depth is a problem in many areas, most notably the offensive line, and that could be the one thing that keeps the Bulls out of the MAC race. If injuries are avoided and the Bulls can keep the turnover margin at a good level again, Buffalo could stick around the championship race.
2007 UB Bulls Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 130.00 (87th in nation, 10th in conference)
Passing Offense: 217.92 (63, 7)
Total Offense: 347.92 (89, 9)
Scoring Offense: 24.25 (82, 7)
Rushing Defense: 174.67 (79, 5)
Pass Defense: 230.92 (65, 12)
Total Defense: 405.58 (72, 5)
Scoring Defense: 27.58 (62, 3)
Turnover Margin: .25 (36, 4)
Sacks: 1.92 (68, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 2.25 (75, 9)
By Joel Welser
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