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Running of the Bulls - Spring ball Running Back Primer

While 2011 was an all around disappointing season there was one bright spot, Branden "Bo" Oliver. Oliver won the job of starting tailback last summer and, out of nowhere, smashed most of UB's single season records! He also made his way up in many career categories.

Winning just three games was a hard pill to swallow but Buffalo could wash it down with the fact Oliver was just a sophomore. Barring any unforeseen circumstances Oliver is in a prime position to become a peer of James Starks in the eyes of Buffalo fans.

Oliver has gained the respect of coaches, team mates, and fans by doing just one thing, working!

His work ethic has become something of a legend. After busting into UB's record books Oliver took just one week off, then it was back to film study. He and running backs coach Matt Simon have went over every one of his carries, the good and the bad, in an attempt to help Oliver better read defenses.

Single Game Rank Chasing (#1)
Yards 2 235 Alan Bell 266
Attempts 5 35 O.D. Underwood 41
Touchdowns 5 3 Lou Corriere 6
Single Season Rank Chasing (#1)
Carries 1 306
Yards 1 1395
100 Yard Games 1 8
Total Yards 1 1760
Touchdowns 4 13 Lee Jones 16
Scoring 8 78 James Starks 102
Career Rank Chasing (#1)
Yards Rushing 5 1673 James Starks 3140
100 Yard Games 5 8 Anthony Swan 13
Carries 7 408 Anthony Swan 812

That Oliver would be UB's starting running back come March was nearly a forgone conclusion. He'd never rest on his accomplishments but they were impressive enough to put him squarely in the number one slot for Tuesday's opening practice.

Still Bo being who he is donned a weight vest when the Bulls went padless to open up practice.

While Oliver was literally putting on weights his position was made even more secure by personnel issues.

Jeffvon Gill has left the program. Gill was seen by many as UB's second choice in the backfield and the player who would take over if Oliver faltered or was injured.

In their freshman year, under Turner Gill, Jeffvon appeared in the final seven games racking up 252 yards on 40 carries. His best game came against against Ohio, in his first career start. He rushed for 172 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries and was a large part of the reason UB was in that game towards the end.

Gill was also one of the more utilized backs in Coach Quinn's first season. Last season, behind Oliver, Gill carried the ball just 19 times. The bulk of his work came against Akron when the game was well in hand.

The other likely challenger, James Potts, is in the midst of eligibility issues. The Florida halfback is one of UB's more highly touted recruits but has been able to get on the field since coming the the program in 2010.

So the Bulls started spring practices with four running backs on the roster and just three on the field.

In addition to Oliver and Potts coach Simon is working with Brandon Murie and Anthone Taylor. Both are young running backs who want to make their own marks on Buffalo football.

Taylor was recruited out of Wayne high school, a member of Ohio's D-I, Region 4. He had some spot work last season but only touched the ball four times, all against Stony Brook. He also looked competent as a receiver out of the backfield something that his Murie did not get a chance to show last season.

Murie also carried the ball just four times last season. The difference, however, is where in the season he saw work. Murie's carries came in the final two games where Taylor's was early in the year, out of conference. Brandon put up similar numbers to Taylor but he did it against conference foes that we will face again this season.

He also got a chance to show his explosiveness on special teams when he took the opening kickoff 93 yards against Akron. That speed, which won him honors as Iroquois as high school track star, translates well to the offense UB hopes to put up this season.

Right now the Spectrum has Murie working with the second team and Taylor in the third chair.

This summer their may be some shifting around as UB adds athletics quarterback Jordan Jefferson of Sweet Home high school, and Devin Campbell from Youngstown, Ohio. There's also the possibility that Potts can get eligible by the time summer camp opens up.

The Bulls running game seems to hinge on Oliver's health. The next five months is most likely going to be a search for Olivers backup, one who might not see the field too much.