With the quiet of the summer fast approaching and optimism/fear in abundance for the 2013 season, Bull In Exile and Bull Trojan were peppered with questions. Enjoy the keen insight and open discussion points for the dog days of summer!
1. Is the QB job Licata’s? If he has a bad game, does the coaching staff let him play through it?
If Licata does not get half the season then I don't know what to make of Jeff Quinn anymore. He has clearly earned the job this spring and last year. So for at least the first 5 or 6 games it needs to be Licata so long as the outcome is in Question.
Sure maybe use Zordich in a situational fashion or bring him in if the game is a blowout. Other than that the focus should be on Licata and the future, UB needs a quarterback, not a committee.
Licata should get the start, but I want Zordich in, he can propel our run game...I wish we had a chance to see Z run a drive or two against Bowling Green, as our more balanced offense attack was easily defeated by BGSU.
Using last year’s stats, Licata would be best against:
Ohio State (78th vs pass), Baylor (123rd vs pass), UConn (36th vs pass), WMU (75th vs pass), Kent (108th vs pass), & Toledo (119th vs pass)...
I'd like to see a lot of Z against poor running defenses, including
Baylor (78th vs run), EMU (124th vs run), Umass (117th vs run), Toledo (82nd vs run) and Miami (123rd vs run).
Yes and Yes. I wish I could just leave that as my answer. I have never liked the duo-QB debacle (I mean experiment!) Let Licata be the man for the entire season. I do not buy into the thought that Zordich opens up the run game? Huh? You know what opens up the run game having to throw an OLB, DB, and FS over Neutz. I am not saying we wasted Neutz’s talent in Buffalo but I can only guess what his numbers could have been with a pocket passer. Also make a team respect a TE or Fred Lee. That also opens up the second point of contact for Bo! Why has Zordich not taking reps as a TE! Get him the ball and let him play.
2. What is going to be the best side of the ball for the Bulls? O, D, or Special Teams.
Special teams? did you catch the spring game?
I'm going to say the defense will be better but it's close and will come down to which line does a better job replacing their losses. Will the right side of UB's offense step up or will whoever replaces Steven Means step up. Generally I think offensive lines will have a harder time stepping up than the D, the work done on an O-Line is a bit more intricate and requires more chemistry than the D.
Offense, I still don't like Tepper's conservative game plan. Instead of unleashing Mack and Means to wreak havoc, he dropped them in soft zone coverage. This put more pressure on our DBs who had to cover for 3-6 seconds. The bright side is our DBs got a TON of experience and seem to really flourish at the end of the year...
That said I trust Quinn's offensive strategy over Teppers, and if our playmakers stay healthy, Licata, Neutz and BO should be the highlight of the season.
Offense! I think this O can be the most dynamic Buffalo has ever seen. I temper that with the hope that the coaching staff can fill big holes lost to graduation on the O line. If UB can muster a solid line, watch out. This could be very fun.
3. Besides Bo, Neutz, Licata, and Mack, anyone else you are looking forward to watching this year?
Colby Way. With Means gone he will be the lineman that opposing teams will game plan around. If he can't pick up the slack on the pass rush Teppers patient defense could become a bend and eventually break.
My players to watch, Colby Way, Najja Johnson and Cortney Lester each player had an impact season last year, and each will have to do better for us to get those 7 wins we want.
Jake Silas and Dan Collura or whoever gets the starting reps to fill the vacancy of Gokhan Ozkan and Graham Whinery to graduation. I will also like to see Colby Way move from support to the man and see how he handles and produces. I thought Najja Johnson took a small step backwards last year, time to step up.
4. Draft watch next year? Predictions?
Mack in the second, Oliver in the third, Neutz as an UDFA. If Oliver has a year like he did in 2011 than maybe he creeps up to the second round but with the depth UB has at running back it's unlikely he will be carrying the ball more than 25 times a game.
I think Neutz, Johnson, BO, Way, Mack and Lester have a chance at turning some heads at the draft.
BO is currently the #12 RB on CBS Sports, but I think he could jump over many of the backs listed over him with a healthy season. However RBs are no longer 1st round fodder, I see him going 4th round.
Neutz to me is comparable with Keenan Allen..big size good height great hands so so speed. If Neutz can perform like last year, and if UB wins, he'll get the pub he needs to fall in the 3rd to 5th round range. If not, I think he falls 7th to undrafted, and if he can improve his speed and/or route running, he would be a steal.
Johnson and Lester (if he leaves early) could be in the mix, just because UB has a history of sending DBs to the NFL (Gemara Williams, Mike Newton, Josh Thomas) Johnson might break UB's passes defended record, I see them both signing with a team undrafted.
I'd like to see Way either 10 pounds lighter as a big DE or 10 pounds heavier as a small DT...at his current size I don’t think he gets drafted, but if his sack numbers stay consistent he'll get a look.
Mack is currently the #8 OLB on CBS Sports and I think he's the 3rd most physical OLB in the draft. I think we have a first rounder on our hands.
The days that running backs are the feature of the draft are over. I am not saying a special player could go number one in the future. Bo will be drafted but will not be until the third day of the draft.
Mack is just too good of a player for teams to try to hide under the carpet and choose late. I have Mack as the highest drafted UB in the modern era.
I would love to see Neutz team up with Brady for a couple of seasons in New England. His lack of gaudy numbers may work against him when paired with his draft camp numbers. I hope he is drafted late but assuredly he will be picked up by some team. Same with Johnson, who will get the chance to make an NFL roster.
5. This team has great MAC talent, do you have confidence the coaching staff will hold up their end of the bargain?
I have no reason to believe the staff can get it done outside of Director White's faith. There are a few decisions Quinn has made, both personnel and schematic, which will always hurt.
UB is also not helped by their schedule, 6 wins would be a huge accomplishment with an OOC of Baylor, OSU, and UConn.
I think the bigger question is this: If UB does not get it done what happens to the coaching staff? We are losing two or more NFL caliber players this season.
Of our 5 MAC losses in 2012:
4 teams finished top 5 in the MAC in running, while only 1 finished top 5 in passing. 3 finished top 5 in run defense, 2 finished top 5 in pass defense and they all finished top 5 in turnover margin.
Of the 3 teams we beat, none were top 5 in rushing, 2 were top 5 in passing, 1 was top 5 in each run defense and pass defense, and none were top 5 in turnover margin.
We beat teams worse than us, and we blew our chances at wins over teams close to our level (Ohio, Toledo, Pitt, UConn).
Despite the talent we have in the trenches, we're still getting beat in the trenches, and we aren't as skilled as we were in '07-'09 to get away with it. That all changes with Licata, who opens up the field again for us, but I am discouraged that coach hasn't named him the starter.
I have zero faith in this coaching staff. The playmakers this year are all from the Gill era. Some of the best talent to have a shot at the NFL is the class of 2013. It is up to this staff to cultivate talent. I question play calling still, I question not being able to recognize the best player for the position still, and I question if Quinn’s braggadocios ways has worn thin still.
This coaching staff has to win this year. If this team does not have a winning record, than I fear the next three to four years.
6. Last but not least, predictions for next year?
The heart says 7-5 but the head is saying 5-7. Three losses out of conference and then there is Toledo, Kent, and Ohio. The Bobcats seem to always try to hand UB the game but I still see a loss there. That gives the Bulls no room at all for error.
Wins over Stony Brook, EMU, WMU, Umass, Ohio and Miami give us 6. UConn game is the toss up that separates a good season from a legendary one....If we win UConn, I think we win 5 in a row, are 5-2 (3-0) headed into Kent...and with that momentum and confidence anything could happen, we could push for the MAC East title.
Buttt, with our history of 2 straight winnable UConn games flushed down the toilet, I don't see it happening. 6-6 placates the masses.
I cannot live with a 6 – 6 season. These kids are too good for that. I see a 5 – 7 record. I see this team not closing the door and Ohio or Miami. PLEASE do not let UMASS beat UB. That can't happen, this team is too loaded.
Keep an eye out for more questions and answer pieces to tie us over until the season starts. If you would like to be a part of this panel, send us a message. If you have any questions that you would like asked, respond below. I will compile and will be answered next round.