It’s not often that we here at Buffalo Rumblings take the time to discuss the city’s other noteworthy football team—that is, the one belonging to the University at Buffalo. Similar to their “big brother” NFL team, the Bulls have ridden a rising wave of success the past few seasons. This year though, unlike the Bills, UB facing a fair amount of adversity after head coach Lance Leipold left for the greener pastures of Kansas. Despite that, the team’s new coaching staff led by former Michigan defensive coordinator Maurice Linguist may be able to steady the ship and orchestrate another successful season.
On offense, new offensive coordinator Shane Montgomery comes to Buffalo following a successful stint at James Madison, which sported a top-five offense in the entire FCS. Montgomery inherits a unit led by quarterback Kyle Vantrease, a seasoned starter who takes care of the ball, but can certainly make throws when his number is called. However, the offense is truly led by running back Kevin Marks. Although he previous shared the spotlight with Jaret Patterson, Marks is a bigger back who offers a bit more explosion as a runner. Last season, he averaged almost 106 yards per game. Marks may be facing less easy runs though, as the offensive line only returns two starters in tackle Jake Fuzak and guard Jack Klenk, but there’s reason to think the other options can at least be solid.
Defensively, the Bulls’ ceiling is much higher. Yes, they have to replace a third-round draft pick in defensive end Malcolm Koonce, but Eric Black and returning senior Taylor Riggins should make up for the loss. Meanwhile, at defensive tackle, underclassman George Wolo ended his freshman season last year with 27 tackles and three sacks, and will be looking to build on that performance. Linebacker will be the strength of the Bulls’ defense, thanks to three-year starter James Patterson and coverage linebacker Kadofi Wright. Finally, the secondary should see some improvement thanks to additional experience but also due to that area being the head coach’s background. Safety Cory Gross and cornerback Aapri Washington are both solid if unspectacular players there.
Leipold’s departure has most observers betting against Buffalo in the MAC East. But there is reason to think that the team’s mixture of talent combined with a smattering of younger players will allow the team to be highly competitive throughout the season. Bills fans will have to tune into some college football MACtion to see for themselves.