For the Bulls quarterback is one of the few area on the depth chart where nothing significant changes from last seasons 8-4 squad. After starting the final four games of the 2012 campaign Joe Licata delivered the best season by a UB passer since Drew Willy took UB to a MAC Championship and their first Bowl game in 2008.
Licata threw for 2,824 yards and 24 touchdowns while completing 58 percent of his passes. His 24 touchdown passes were one shy of the single season school record set by Willy in 2008. Whats more impressive is that Licata played the tail end of last season with a hip Injury which required surgery once the season was over.
UB lost no quarterback depth last season, and here are the Quarterbacks on the roster this summer and their college experience.
While Licata spent the spring healing from surgery other UB quarterbacks benefited from increased time with the starting offense and exposure during the UB's blue and white game.
Last years backup, and presumably the player waiting in the wings this season is Tony Daniel. Last season Daniel appeared in four games last season and went 4-for-7 for 42 yards and a touchdown. Where Joe Licata is a typical pocket passer Daniel is a mobile quarterback. He's not a typical "dual threat" instead running more like a power back than a slashing half back. His style, while not flashy, can also do damage with his legs.
After Daniel there is Collin Michael.
Several years ago all that stood between the Lexington Quarterback and a thick stack of big time offers was an ill timed injury. He had been visited by a host of AQ programs including the Buckeyes while he prepared for his junior season. During the course of his junior year a serious knee injury sidelined him for months and gave some of the programs looking at him a reason to pause.
So far, behind Licata and Daniel, the sophomore has seen no action but did impress during UB's spring game. What he did in the Blue and White game was probably not enough to seriously challenge Daniel for the the backup job but he may see the field at some point this season if UB is on the right end of a huge blowout.
After the top three quarterbacks there is Craig Slowick, J.R. Zazzara, Chris Merchant, and Kevin Rodgers.
Slowick is a walk-on who has served one season on the scout team. The other three players are recruited from last season's class.
Zazzara was the quarterback who led Syracuse-area Christian Brothers Academy to a 10-1 record which included the Section III Class AA championship. On the year he was a part of 38 touchdowns (22 passes and 16 runs). He was and was named to the All-CNY football team as selected by The Post-Standard and Syracuse.com.
Zazzara had been holding a lacrosse scholarship to Syracuse before signing with Buffalo. He is an athletic dual threat, more in the mold of Chazz Anderson than Alex Zordich. As a runner Zazzara can make people miss and he also has a pretty good throwing arm.
Chris Merchant from St. Andrew's College in Aurora, Ontario: Merchant took part in the The Quarterback University Invitational last spring and was widely considered one of the top performers by QBU coach Donovan Dooley.
Dooley said of Merchant, "He was very polished, He had nice velocity on his throws. He was very accurate".
Merchant is the type of quarterback you would find in a pro set offense. He is at his best in a decent pocket throwing the ball and not on the move but he can extend played a little with his feet.
The final UB quarterback might not end up behind center. With his big frame many scouting services considered Kevin Rodgers a more promising tight end than a quarterback. Last season however Rodgers did throw for 1,300 yards, ran for another 700 and put up a total of 16 touchdowns on the board.
So while its possible that Rodgers is coming to UB as a tight end he also fits the mold of a dual threat quarterback who is a punishing runner. Someone who seems very much in the mold of Alex Zordich or Tony Daniel.
It's looking like 2016 perhaps being the year of Collin Micheal or a battle between Zazzara and Merchant. Until then Buffalo fans know what they have at quarterback and it's not likely to change.