Joe Licata took over late last year, with Buffalo winning 3 of the last 4 games, what are the expectations surrounding him this season?
As a redshirt sophomore Licata's job is to manage the offense and he showed well in the opener at Ohio State. He's a confident guy who grew up about 15 minutes from the Buffalo campus, had a great high school career but is oblivious to the pressures that can go with playing for the hometown team. He has good but not great arm strength. His greatest asset is his poise and his understanding of the offense. The Bulls have a lot more variety in the passing game this year, a sign the trust Licata to get the ball where it needs to go.
Khalil Mack is the standout on defense, but who else should the Bears watch for on the Bulls defense?
Defensive end Colby Way is a high motor guy who can be a disruptive force on the rush. Whether that bears out this season is worth watching because last year he benefitted from having Steven Means (a fifth-round pick by Tampa Bay, on the opposite end. Defensive back Najja Johnson led the MAC in interceptions last year and fellow DB Cortney Lester was second. Most of that production came late in the year once the Bulls acclimated to defensive coordinator Lou Tepper's 3-3-5 scheme.
Brandon Oliver could become Buffalo's all-time leading rusher this season, describe his running style.
Oliver's at his best when he hits the hole fast and uses his shiftiness to make defenders miss. The offensive line didn't have great push against Ohio State and that turned Oliver into a tentative runner, something we haven't seen very often. He has good speed but not breakaway speed but he's not easily brought down one on one.
Over 100,000 Buckeye fans were on the ropes in the 3rd quarter with Buffalo within 10, what was the key to Buffalo keeping it close with the #2 team in the nation?
This team learned a lot about itself after falling behind 23-0 in a blink. Past Buffalo teams would have crumbled right there. This team didn't, and a lot of the credit goes to its senior leadership, guys like Khalil Mack, Oliver, wideout Alex Neutz, guard Jasen Carlson and Johnson. Once they settled down they were solid. They went toe-to-toe with the Buckeyes over the last three quarters and held up better than the Buckeyes on the endurance end of things.
What is the expectation of the fanbase going into Buffalo's game with Baylor?
My take might be different than most. I thought the Bulls matched up better with Ohio State than Baylor. The Bears have so much speed and play at such a high tempo that it can't help but mess with heads on the defensive side of the ball. And the fact the Bears can come at you from so many directions with a wide array of players makes defending them all the more exasperating. I think people around here believe that because Buffalo played reasonably well against No. 2 Ohio State then they should be in the game at Baylor. I think Buffalo will score points but, like most teams in the country, they'll be hard-pressed to get a handle on that dynamic Baylor offense.