What the Bulls Bring - Offense
Last season the Buffalo Bulls were117th in total offense in Div 1A, most of that was through the air. You have to wonder how Buffalo will move the ball since wideout Andre Forde (whose on the field performance got him a look from the Chicago Bears) and departed tight end Chad Bartoszek (now with the Indianapolis Colts), both graduated. They accounted for 99 of the Bulls' receptions. Not only are they gone but receivers Maurice Bradford and Dan Lindsay are also graduated taking with them a combined 27 more receptions and more than 400 yards of offense. Tim Dance and Matt Knueven will be looked upon to give quarterback Randall Secky (204 for 421 with 2015 yards [48.5%], 12 TD's and 13 ints) some new targets. But Dance is more of a possession receiver, leaving Knueven as the only player on the team with the speed to go deep. This is not the type of situation conducive to inaugarating "air" Buffalo. While the Bulls have a host of young, tall receivers, they have little or no Div 1A experience. It it is unlikely that this group will find their game feet against the Knights.
Buffalo will have to find its offense on the ground. Expect them to do just that. RB Aaron Leeper is a legit Div 1A star in the making. Leeper, who turned down Boston College and others to stay close to home, was last season's MAC freshman of the year after running for 917 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also caught 27 passes out of the backfield. He'll be the designated "go to" guy this season.
He'll be running behind a solid and experienced offensive line. Zach Love (6-4, 296) (11 starts, 50 pancake blocks as a redshirt freshman) T , Alex Alvarez (6-4, 292) G, Eric Weber (6-5, 310) C (11 starts, considered an All MAC prospect), Erik Zeppuhar (6-3, 285) G (23 straight starts), and Jeff Mills (6-6, 297)T(26 straight starts) anchor a young and talented offensive front. Tim Schmidt, a 6-6,301, sophomore, Kevin Dunn, a 6-1, 286 pound senior, Luke Johnson, a 6-7, 310 junior and Dan Minocci, a 6-1,290, junior provide the depth. Dunn and Minocci have 18 games starting experience between them. Johnson is a JUCO who is expected to see playing time early.
Dallas Pelz and
Michael Baker are competent field goal kickers who are consistent and
accurate out to forty yards. Pelz, though, had some trouble with extra
points, hitting only 8 of 13. You might see Baker
taking over PAT's and Pelz handling the field goal chores against
What to expect.
The Bulls will try to re-establish a passing game for their experienced QB. Unfortunately for UB, they just don't seem to have the horses at wideout. Accordingly they will probably be forced to rely on Leeper's ability to move the ball on the ground. Buffalo should be able to do just that behind their talented and experienced offensive line.That won't work all night so in order to keep they running game going you can expect that they'll try to exploit Rutgers young linebackers by mixing up short passes to fullback, Tom Shaughnessy, and to tight ends Brian Miller (Jr.) 6-5, 230 and redshirt freshman, Chad Upshaw, 6-4, 250. Miller was a JUCO All American and Upshaw is one of the Bulls top young players and the cousin of NFL great Gene Upshaw.
To keep Leeper fresh expect to see freshman Steve King and Chris McDuffie, along with sophmore Dave Dawson, throughout the game. All three are young speedsters who will spell Leeper just enough to get him his wind back. However, don't underestimate these three young backups. They are quick, athletic running backs who can do damage in their own right.
What the Knights must do.
The key is at linebacker. The Knights have as much raw talent at linebacker as anyone in the Big East but they'll have to get their game feet under them quickly. Expect Buffalo coach Jim Hofher to set up plays aimed at exploiting the over aggressiveness of the young Knight linebacking corps. Beckford and Hutchinson have to know their assignments, stick with their assignments and forget about the highlight films.
If they do that, Buffalo's receivers won't be able to match up with RU's quick secondary and the Leeper "based" running attack could get old fast.
Tomorrow: "Scouting the
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