Last year could have been a defensive disaster. Like the offense there were some significant losses, Mike Newton being the biggest loss. The defense was also being jammed into a new Schemed by defensive coordinator Bill Inge who's 3-4 hybrid scheme had to make due with a roster designed to use just three.
Then, with the transition under way, UB lost Darius Willis who left the program and Scott Pettigrew to an injury sustained during an off campus confrontation. The assumption, by many, was that the linebackers would need a year to get the system. Instead a unit led by senior Justin Winters became the class of the defense.
This year UB has to get that same performance out of squad which loses Winters, along with fellow senior Raphael Akobundu. The experience this year comes from the outside linebackers.
Week in and week out Khalil Mack was one of the stars of the defensive front seven working like a pass rushing defensive end at times from his outside linebacker spot. Mack along with Jaleel Verser dominated from the outside. Both return this season Mack made several national All-Freshmen teams with a tremendous breakout season.
The Bulls took a hit on the inside when John Syty was recently sidelined due to complications from a concussion. In his place Lee Skinner, a preferred walk on, has been seeing a lot of action. Skinner's senior season saw him amass 100 tackles and six sacks.Skinner drew a lot of interest but his speed, against passing offenses, is in question. Skinner will line up in the middle with either Scott Pettigrew and Fred Branch.