The last time the Bulls had a dangerous one two punch at wide out was 2009. Zach Maynard was a first year starter and he had Naaman Roosevelt and Brett Hamlin as options in the passing game. He also had Jesse Rack - the last very potent receiving threat at tight end for Buffalo.
After 2009 was gone so were Rack, Roosevelt, and Hamlin. Zach Maynard took off to play in California and the Bulls were left with a new coach, new quarterback, and no main receivers. It was a rough year for the Bulls with junior Marcus Rivers and freshman Alex Neutz getting close to an 1,100 yard share of Buffalo's 2,200 passing yards. A far cry from the 2,000 yards that Roosevelt and Hamlin racked up in 2008.
The following season saw Rivers and Neutz once again as the only receiving threats Buffalo had, but neither topped 650 yards. Buffalo's problems at quarterback and on the line made the Bulls passing game a non factor.
Last Season, with Neutz as the only weapon Buffalo finally had a 1,000 yard receiver again. The problem for the Bulls was that the next most prolific receiver, Fred Lee, had just 261 yards catching.
Buffalo was a team with no stable quarterback and only one potent receiver to speak of. This one dimensional passing game seemed to continue into the beginning of 2013. There was some use of tight ends but it seemed every other pass to a receiver was going to Neutz.
Throughout his career Neutz has used his size and skills to pull in a circus catch but three or four weeks into the season he was still just a one man show. The Buffalo receiver shredded Baylor for almost 200 yards before being all but shut down in the third quarter. He was UB's one highlight during the drubbing that the Bears delivered. As the season went on and UB's foes became wise to Neutz the Buffalo senior started getting locked down.
Enter Fred Lee.
Through his junior season Lee had just 45 catches for 440 yards and three touchdowns. Through the first three games of UB's season he had 12 catches for 90 yards. He was on pace for a modest increase over his junior year.
Then Joe Licata finally started finding Lee. A receiver with career averages of just 1.4 catches and 13 yards a game spent the last three quarters of this season pulling in more than five receptions a game for seventy yards.
When defenses decided that shutting down Neutz was the equation to make Buffalo one dimensional Fred Lee created a random variable. Lee made the Bulls passing game more diverse, and more dangerous than it has been since Zach Maynard was throwing passes to Roosevelt, Hamlin, and Rack.
Alex Neutz is still "The Star" that you have to account for. His ability to come down with the ball is phenomenal and while not a burner in the traditional sense he is quite fast.
Early in the season color commentators kept calling Neutz "deceptively fast". After a few weeks that stopped, there is nothing deceptive about the Grand Island natives speed anymore. He will beat you long and if you stay with Neutz he can muscle down contested passes.
Lee adds a great inside receiving threat. He's tough and runs solid routes. Lee's four scores have all come from inside the opponents 40 yard line, two of them from within the 30 and one in the red zone. He's not a guy who will turn his route into a 40 yard dash for the long score but he is that guy who makes the first down reception on 3rd and 10.
Lee is good at finding space in the defense, giving Licata somewhere to go with the ball when the protection starts to break down. The more you blanket Alex Neutz the more space Lee has to work with.
The Buffalo offense may key off of running back Branden Oliver but getting the BO-Dozer going is a bit easier with multiple receivers to keep opponents honest when facing the Bulls.