Davonte Shannon, Dominic Cook, Josh Thomas, and Mike Newton. All four are recent Buffalo defensive backs who found their way into NFL camps with Newton and Thomas ending up playing on Sundays. At one point in the very recent past these four players were all on the same depth chart for Buffalo.
So when Josh Thomas, the youngest of the bunch, moved on after the 2010 season there was a pronounced dip in the effectiveness of UB's defensive backs. The group of young players were picked on while they tried to fill the shoes of the NFL caliber talent that came before them.
In 2011 the defensive backfield was torched by opposing quarterbacks. Buffalo, under defensive coordinator William Inge, allowed opposing Quarterbacks a passer rating of 145 and pulled just six interceptions.
So, last year, there was reason to worry that UB would once again be in for a rough ride. The worry however seemed all for naught as UB's still relativity young backfield stepped up to the level of play fans saw in 2010.
Opposing Quarterbacks efficiencies dropped more than 20 points and Buffalo more than doubled the number of interceptions making victims of opposing quarterbacks 13 times. Buffalo ranked second in the MAC in pass defense, allowing teams to throw for just 206.5 yards per game. During the Bulls best run of the season, their last four games, UB defenders broke up 21 passes.
There was a huge improvement in corner play with Cortney Lester almost single handily winning the WMU game for his team. The sophomore picked off all MAC quarterback Alex Carder three times. On the year Najja Johnson pulled in five picks to lead his team, and the the Mid-American Conference.
At safety though things are not so clear. Okoye Houston and Witney Sherry both showed some great potential last year in camp and won starting jobs but Injuries forced a lot of player substitution allowing Derek Brim to make a real run at the position.
After these five players the depth cart is a complete jumble but if I had to guess, and yes this is nothing but a SWAG.
|CB||Najja Johnson||Dwellie Striggles||Okezie Alozie|
|SS||Okoye Houston||Marqus Baker||Adam Redden|
|FS||Witney Sherry||Derek Brim||Brandon Berry
|CB||Cortney Lester||Carlos Lammons||C.J. Stancil|
With UB losing two linemen and a couple of linebackers it will on this unit to put down opposing passing games. Last season they showed they were no longer pushovers but can their level of play this year help the Bulls get back to a bowl?