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Dear Santa; A start to Bull Runs Christmas List

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With the end of the regular season my wife is relieved, I have one more solid week of football and then the MAC and BCS Bowls (I will also catch a few others) but for the most part my Saturday schedule of wasting away in front of a TV and two computers (espn360 is addictive) is over.

What really got her going was watching me do Christmas list with the kids, she may not have been so excited if she saw my list and realized it was football centered. My list is not quite done but this is what I am getting for people so far.

1) I want Turner Gill to stay for at least Two more years, so for Warde Manual lets get a set of industrial Chains to Keep Coach Gill in his current seat through the upcoming game of Head Coach Musical Chairs


Where do you think you're going...

While this season may have been a disappointment the fact that UB faithful are considering a 5-7 season a let down is encouraging. When you take the fact we were three plays away from being in a Bowl for the second year in a row *and* the quality of recruits Turner Gill has been nabbing it's pretty clear that football at UB has fundamentally changed.

But now comes the BCS programs start their annual pilgrimage to snatch away the mid-majors best coaches. We will have to suffer another 30+ days of rumors, interviews, intrigue, and worry.

Gills name has been mentioned by many sources as a potential coach for KU (given the coaching mistakes against Missouri the chances of that job opening up just jumped) and I still would not completely rule out Maryland (even though he has not been mentioned anywhere).

2) I don't want to see another season lost to special teams, so for our entire coaching staff lets get some lite reading material.

Something to read during the drives to away games

I know many teams in the MAC (Ohio comes to mind) can get away with not having a dedicated special teams coach but it's just not working at Buffalo. UB's special teams were the cause of at least two losses this season (WMU and BGSU) and a contributing factor in several more. There was not a special teams play this season that did not cause UB fans to hold their breath.

Some areas did get better as the season went on (Kick Returning and Punting both got substantially better) but no one area of our special teams play ever approached adequacy during 2009.

If UB can't find the budget to take on a new coach some realignment of responsibilities needs to happen. Give one coach the added responsibility of special teams or split up coverage and returns and hand them to the OC and DC and give them ownership.

3) I don't want to see UB play with all the excitement of a Coma Patient whenever they get up by a few points so for the UB Locker room lets get a new game 'NCAA Mortal Combat'

Dammit, Finish them!

UB Needs to start going for the throat when they have a lead (this goes for both the offense and the defense). No team in the MAC plays is as ugly as UB when they have a three to ten point lead. The offense runs up the gut on first and second down every time, then maybe tries a screen on third and five and the defense starts giving opposing receivers a ten yard cushion.

It seemed like UB was always playing from behind in 2008 so they were always laying it all out, on every play. But records aside this team was better, in a lot of ways, then their predecessor so they ended up playing from a position of strength (or at least a late tie) this season and lost nearly every time they did. Bowling Green, Ohio, Central Florida were all games UB should have had if they had just finished the fourth quarter strong (to say nothing of CMU and WMU).

4) I want to see our receiving corp be productive despite the loss of Roosevelt, Hamlin, and Rack so lets get something to help next years Freshman grow up, fast..

Make a wish Devon

Turner Gill is pulling in some nice speedsters from Florida and UB may need them next season. Our losses this year easily eclipse our loses from last season. Losing Willy and Starks is not going to be as painful for the offense as losing Roosevelt, Hamlin, and Rack.

At Wide Receiver Jackson has looked, at times, to be a presentable receiver but aside form him UB's wide outs have been at best a sketchy corp featuring dropped passes, and some mediocre route running.

Devon Hughes is going to get a shot next year, and if he is the player advertised I would think he has a legit shot at the #2 spot. There are quite a few more receivers on the radar screen and some good DB's who might be able to convert so if there is a quick ramp up for our new guys WR should be ok next season (but you don't replace what we are losing in one year).

5) I'd like to see AJ get better range on his field goals so lets get some practice equipment for him


Don't Laugh, It worked for
The Garbage Picking Field Goal Kicking Philadelphia Phenomenon

I like AJ, within his range he is a very accurate kicker but his range has been too short for a windy town like Buffalo (35 yards is where he becomes a bit scary). If UB is going to be more successful getting inside the 35 yard line has to mean points, just do the math on our losses four of them total 11 points (BGU, WMU, Ohio, UCF). Split those down the middle and UB is sporting a 7-5 (not 5-7) record.

6) I want to see the defense get off the field faster, so lets reintroduce them to something they used to eat for breakfast in 2008.
The best part about this gift is we don't have to spend any money, lets just sneak in at night and take them out of Danny Barrett's Office, wrap them and leave them in front of Reed's door. This way we can kill two birds with one stone.

I think I, as much as anyone, have been way to hard on the defense this year. They faced a supernaturally high number of short fields and had to cope for an offense that seemed to play secret Santa with our opponents week in and week out. But I saw enough dropped interceptions, and poor attacks on the ball to give me some pause.

If the Offense can't stop turning the ball over two to three times a game the defense is going to have to get better at taking it away. It might not seem fair but next season will feature a UB offense virtually stripped of the talent that won the conference in 08 but a defense which is still relatively solid, the burden is going to fall on them next season.