ESPN Insider previews University at Buffalo Bulls
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • July 05, 2012 @ 9:07am
Now that we’re fewer than 60 days away from the start of the 2012-13 college football season, ESPN and Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook have collaborated to preview all 122 Division I football programs, including the local University at Buffalo Bulls.
The Bulls were a major disappointment last season, winning only three of their 12 games and sending head coach Jeff Quinn’s two-year record to 5-19. Handpicked starting quarterback Chazz Anderson, a reserve at Cincinnati where Quinn was formerly an assistant, was too inconsistent in his lone season with the Bulls. While Quinn’s not quite on the hot-seat yet, another similar sub-par season could have new athletic director Danny White looking in a new direction.
Blue Ribbon’s preview, available to ESPN Insider members or those who purchase the magazine, admits the disappointment of the past but also exudes optimism. Running back Branden “Bo” Oliver and outside linebacker Khalil Mack are bona-fide Division I stars—both made Blue Ribbon’s projected All-MAC preseason team—and several other key parts like wide receiver Alex Neutz, middle linebacker Lee Skinner, cornerback Najja Johnson also return. Nevertheless, Quinn’s team is projected to finish fifth in the MAC East—identical to last season’s result—topping only perennially feeble Akron.
The quarterback competition between junior dual-threat Alex Zordich and redshirt freshman Joe Licata may dictate what style of offense UB plays. While there’s little doubt that the pace will be fast—Quinn hopes to keep defenses off-balance by going no-huddle frequently—the two competitors for the starting job have vastly different strengths. Our favorite to win the role is Zordich due to experience, but Licata probably has greater potential.
On the other side of the ball, high expectations are in line for new defensive coordinator Lou Tepper, a former head man at Illinois.
“I had hundreds of choices to pick from, and I chose him,” Quinn said about his recent hire in the preview. “I’ve known about coach Tepper. The kids like him, and that’s the key. He’s emphasized the key fundamentals to be a good defense.”
The analysis also notes the difficulty of Buffalo’s schedule, which begins away at Georgia on Sept. 1 and also features match-ups against UConn, where former UB AD Warde Manuel is now athletic director, and a home contest against the Pitt Panthers. While it’s fantastic that the Bulls can attract such quality opposition, the strength of schedule cannot be an excuse for another three-win season. A bowl berth—6+ wins—would be a boon for a program with promise that’s fallen short in production.
(Header photo courtesy of Dave Marino from UB vs. Northern Illinois—full gallery here)