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A Very Early Look at the 2015 Buffalo Bulls Offensive Starters

Buffalo has some key weapons returning but also big losses on both lines. New coach Lance Leipold has some talent to work with on this side of the ball.

Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

In 20XX a new coach made his way to Amherst after Turner Gill left for Kansas.  Compare the same situation in 2015 and you will see polar opposites.  In to town like a hurricane was Jeff Quinn.  Next Bull In, the 36 F's, and full of fire and brimstone.  And then football happened.  20XX is a year that many UB fans would like to forget.

In 2010, Quinn could not retain star QB Zach Maynard, and his failure to quickly find a QB replacement doomed Quinn's coaching tenure.  Maynard of course went on to win the starting job playing with his brother Keenan Allen at Cal.  Quinn had senior talent left over in Davonte Shannon, a four-time All-MAC safety as well as Dominic Cook, future NFL DB Josh Thomas, and Steven Means at DE. On offense, UB returned Petter Bitner at OL, and an exciting WR duo of Marcus Rivers and Terrell Jackson. Quinn also had promising young players Alex Neutz, Bo Oliver and of course Khalil Mack.

Lance comes to UB and what he inherits and who he is, totally different.  He is not following a UB football legend and he has two and half year starter and local legend Joe Licata back for his senior season. UB is 4-20 in the first season of their last two coaches. Expectations will be much higher for Leipold.

This is Bull Run's educated guess as the starters Sept. 5 versus the Albany Great Danes.

QB - Joe Licata   QB  6-2    227         SR Williamsville, NY

The regression didn't happen. UB's offense was lethal in 2014, and it was a snowy day and a stupid truck route away from being record breaking. As a starter, Licata is 16-12 with 6,277 passing yards and 58 TDs and a 60.4% completion rate.

In 2014, Licata lost his four top weapons from 2013, but still threw for five more TDs and only three more interceptions. With most of his major weapons returning in 2015, I'd expect great things from Joe this year.

RB - Anthone Taylor 5-10 207 SR Huber Heights, OH

Anthone may not have been a surprise to his teammates but to Bulls fans who expected a giant drop-off when Bo graduate the surprise was sweet.  Anthone continues a legacy of great running backs including Bo and Jame Starks. In 11 games, damn you Kent driver, 282 attemps, 1402 yards averaging 5 yards per carry.  Longest run was 76 yards with 12 TD's.  Throw in 16 receptions for 108 yards.  I am really looking forward to Anthone's senior season.

RB - Jordan Johnson 6-1 216 JR Amherst, NY

I wanted to add Jordan to this article.  Before injury the two headed attack of Johnson and Taylor was a great combination for the Bulls.  Jordan's best game was against Akron (17 - 104 1 TD)  I look forward to seeing MAC defenses trying to stop both running backs.  UB will not line up with two backs but Jordan is primed for a break out season.

WR - Ron Willoughby 6-4 199 SR Avon Lake, OH

I think that Ron is Licata's roommate?  Talk about coming out of nowhere.   in 2013 Ron had 3 catches for 83 yards with a long of 45.  Cut to 2014 with a great season with 50 catches, 771 yards and 9 TD's.  Ron was Licata's go to WR and has no fear or second thoughts of throwing a pass up for grabs in double or triple coverage to Ron. Amazing thing is Ron caught most of those.  I except more of the same this season.

WR - Jacob Martinez 6-2 187 SO Southport, FL

What an amazing first year for the Florida transplant.  Martinez was my favorite break out player of the season.  With 28 receptions averaging 10 yards per catch.  Jacob also scored three times.  Jacob's best game is when he torched Miami (OH) for 8 catches, 97 yards, and one TD.  Bulls hung on to win 35-27.

TE - Matt Weiser 6-5 245 JR Womelsdorf, PA

As the season progressed, the TE position became important.  Licata able to find multiple receivers and accuracy made the defense fall back and created a nice soft zone.  Joe taking what was given had TE's open.  Matt with 15 receptions and 4 TD's.  Another TE to watch out for will be Mason Schreck.

Pretty easy to chose the offensive weapons as so many are returning.  Now the difficult part to pick the five offensive lineman.  In the mix this year will be Sr Jessie Back, Sr. Robert Blodgett, Jr.Jason Bunk, Jr Dan Collura, So Andy Fidler,  So Bill Galley, Jr Corbin Grassman, So Skylar Hartley,  So Brandan Monalvas (best OL name!)  Jr Albert McCoy, So David Meyer, So Matt Murphy, So James O'Hagan, So Tyler O'Henly, Sr Todd Therrien.

UB lost serious depth with graduation of Andre Davis, Dillon Guy, Trevor Sales, and Jake Silas. It will be impossible to plug the hole from losing the above.  Offense will focus on quick strikes to limit the pressure on three new starters. Also the holes for UB running backs will not be as large but the Bulls as you read above are not breaking in new running backs.  You hate to lose so many starters, but 2015 the talent cliff will should not play as big a factor as expected.

OL  John Kling 6-7 324 SR Cheektowaga, NY

John was a Quinn guy through and through.  Not only excelled on the football field but also was a solid wrestler. John only played one game before last season and that was against Morgan State.  John came in and more than held his own.  I had some disappointments in the middle of season of the offensive line but rebounded at the end of the season.   Much will be asked of John as in one short season to be the new guy to being the leader.

OL Robert Blodgett 6-5 311 SR Lima, NY

Robert is clearly the veteran of the offensive line.  In 2013 earned the starting spot in 8 of the final 9 games.  This was the line that open holes for Bo.  With John and Robert, my fears of the offensive lined are simmered.  Robertand John were on the right hand side of the line last season.  Won't be surprised to see the experienced players anchoring different sides of the line.

The above starters for offense are sure to be locks or major contributors.  Here is where I guess the three remaining O Line starters.

OL - Todd Therrien 6-1 277 SR Williamsville, NY

This is a great local story.  Todd from Williamsville East High School was originally a walk on for the Bulls.  Started on the defensive line.  Played in three games last season and I expect to see Todd at left guard.

OL - Matt Murphy 6-7 302 SO  London, England

With a name like Murphy you ask if he has Irish roots.  No, he is from Ireland.  Came to Buffalo via London , England and then to IMG academy.  You did notice that Matt is 6'7"   I would love to see Matt thrown out at LT and make MAC defenders pay.  I love his story and look forward to watching him play.

OL - Brandon Manosalvas 6-4 308 SO Paramus, NJ

Brandon comes to UB the same route as John Kling.  A very accomplished high school player.  Like John also excelled on the wrestling mat and in shot put.   The one area many opponents of Quinn could agree on was finding offensive lineman.

By far last season, the offense carried the defense.  And for the 2015 season, that trend is going to continue.  Licata should have a monster season with the talent he has around him.  The only concern is Joe's body.  Surgeries to Licata again in the off season and we hope Joe starts the season at 100%.  We hope so as many games will be high scoring affairs.  I am already ready for Buffalo to take on Albany.  Watch for the expected defensive starters article soon.  Need to tune up my crystal ball.