Stop me if you heard this one before..... After 2013 UB lost Khalil Mack!
In any national and most local UB coverage the Khalil Mack graduating story line was the only thing mentioned. Unless you really followed the team you could have been tricked into thinking that Khalil Mack was the only senior among the front seven of last seasons defense.
But chances are that if you're reading Bull Run then you're a real fan and as such you know that we also lost Colby Way.
Way was a fantastic defensive end who would have been a one man wrecking crew in the offensive backfield with or without Mack. In addition to losing Colby UB lost another starter on the line when Beau Bachtelle graduated.
There was every excuse for a huge fall off in line play this season but that fall off never really came. The incoming seniors played their role on the field and as leaders as well as anyone could have hoped.
Most of the lines problems this year are schematic. Four years of having a player like Mack on the defense let the Bulls get away with too many unoriginal three man rushes.
That practice continued this season, until the coaching change. Since the coaching change UB seems to be using more blitz packages and different looks and it's given the fans a great view of the solid players on UB's defensive line
Kristjan Sokoli -
A case can be made that the center lineman is the most important player in a 3-4 defense. Different defenses assign the position different labels but no matter what you call him most everything good that happens on defense starts in the middle of the line.
After working as a backup in every game of 2012 Kristjan Sokoli took over the starting job last season. His consistency in setting the plate for the players around him was phenomenal. When a nose guard gets a tackle for a loss in six different games you know the players around him are going to be successful.
This year Sokoli has three tackles for loss and is third on the team with five passes defended.
As a JUCO transfer from Lackawanna Junior College Tedroy Lynch was charged with replacing Colby Way this season.
Last year he played in 11 games as a backup making 17 tackles and 2.5 sack. This season Lynch is seventh on the team in tackles (33). That goes along with his 2.5 tackles for loss, sack and a half, and three quarterback hurries.
After this season not only will the Bulls lose Defensive end Tedroy Lynch but also his backup, Kendall Roberson. During the past three seasons Roberson had been restricted mainly to a special teams role. This year Roberson has spent a lot of time on the defense as a depth player.
In that role he has been quite effective. In the nine games has has played this season Roberson has 13 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and a sack. He has also demonstrated a nose for the ball by recovering two fumbles.
Barksdale pushed Sokoli for the starting job this spring but ended up as a backup. Even in that role the Senior has been a game changer.
He has 14 tackles, and a quarterback hurry. More impressively he has blocked two kicks this season, leading the Bulls in that category.
Side Note - According to UB Athletics Barksdale is a pure math major so I tip my hat to him for picking one of the most difficult and unsexy fields you can find on a college campus.
UB's three man defensive line is slated to lose two starters and two backups. That's going to leave some big gaps for the 2015 edition of UB football.