If the Buffalo Bulls make a "Bowl Run" this season chances are it will be because Branden Oliver does his part to carry the offense. UB's running game has come a long way since a hand full of backs limped their way through Jeff Quinn's first season as Buffalo's head coach.
Back when Brandon Oliver was a freshman his 29 yards a game was enough to lead UB on the season. In all of 2010 Buffalo only put up about 1,300 yards on the ground. The Bulls one rushing touchdown that season was not scored by Oliver but by Ike Nduka. Meanwhile fumbling at inopportune times seemed like a job requirement in the backfield
UB turned that around the next season on the back of Oliver. UB's total reliance on Oliver in 2011 begged the question what did the future hold?
Fans got an idea when the backfield weather four injured running backs in 2012. It was not quite the same without Oliver but the Bulls still respectable running game.
|Branden Oliver - sr||Devin Campbell - jr||Devin Campbell - sr||Jordan Johnson - sr|
|Devin Campbell - so||James Potts - sr||Anthone Taylor - sr||James Coleman - sr|
|James Potts - jr||Anthone Taylor - jr||Jordan Johnson - jr||Joe Schillace - sr|
|Brandon Murie - sr||Jordan Johnson - so||James Coleman - jr||Diamond Williams - sr|
|Anthone Taylor - so||James Coleman - so||Joe Schillace - jr|
|Jordan Johnson - fr - r||Joe Schillace - so||Diamond Williams - jr|
|James Coleman - fr||Diamond Williams - so|
|Joe Schillace - fr|
|Diamond Williams - fr|
|Patrick Brennan - sr|
You can't say enough about UB running back Branden Oliver. He's set several single season UB records, has some career records in his sights and enters 2013 on both the Maxwell and Doak Walker watch lists. In his last complete season, 2011, Bo was carrying the ball north of 25 times a game. For all intents and purposes Oliver was the UB offense.
Last year UB fans got to see what the future holds. The Injury to Oliver, Potts, and several other backs made Jeff Quinn reach very deep into his stable.
The player who made the biggest splash was Devin Campbell. The freshman was second on the team in rushing after both Oliver and James Potts went down with early season injuries. He cemented himself as UB's #2 with a solid spring while Potts is still recovering.
Potts can be a big impact player if fate ever allows him to get time on the field. The Florida native came had to spend the summer before he came to UB trying to work off debt to his high school so that they would release his transcripts to the University. Potts missed a deadline and because of that had to sit his first year. He lost the next when he was unable to maintain a high enough GPA and then there was last season.
Last year James Potts, who never stops for a roadblock put up in his path got onto the field. In week one against Georgia Potts carried once for five yards. The next week against Morgan State Potts took his first carry 49 yards for a touchdown. He jumped to celebrate and landed awkwardly, that was the end of his season.
I'd advice Jeff Quinn to start preparing the case for a medical redshirt right now. James Potts has as good a case for one as any player I'm aware of.
Potts is behind Oliver and Campbell and beside Brandon Murie and Anthone Taylor.
Murie is a speedster who may see more time on special teams as a returner than in the Backfield. He proved effective at times last season when UB's depth was strained but in reality Buffalo's special teams needs a solid return man way more than the backfield is in need of another back.
Though he did not see the field last season Anthone Taylor has had a chance to show he has potential as a multi purpose back in 2011.
After Taylor the water is really muddied, there is a lot of unproven youth waiting for their chance.
The most interesting of which might be Jordan Johnson. Johnson played high school ball a stones throw from campus where he as the Class A State Player of the Year as both a junior and senior, he was also a first-team All-WNY and All-State. After sitting his freshman year, and bulking up a bit, Johnson is listed on the UB depth chart as a backup full back.
While that might be true this season I'd have to expect that by 2015, if the year before he will get looked at as a half back.
UB has three freshman, and a walk on senior, who will probably not be playing this season. They are the Freshman James Coleman, Joe Schillace, and Diamond Williams, along with the senior Patrick Brennan