With a lot of talent lost after the 2018 season UB Football has some question marks heading into the 2019 season. That doesn’t mean there isn’t talent on the roster but there is a lack of experience in some key positions and there will be some fun storylines to keep an eye on throughout the season.
Replacing Production in the Passing Game
The biggest question mark of them all in 2019 is how can Lance Leipold replace MAC OPOY QB Tyree Jackson and the rest of the talent in the passing game. With Jackson gone early to the NFL, and the Bulls’ top 5 receivers last year transferring or graduating, there are a lot of holes on this side of the ball. 2019’s likely starting QB, Kyle Vantrease, only has 66 passing attempts for 375 yards in his Division 1 career. The Bulls’ top returning receiver, Antonio Nunn, only had 12 catches for 146 yards in 2018. While the passing game is in question, 80% of the offensive line returns, along with two of the MAC’s top RBs which will help ease the transition to the new QB and receiving corps.
Who Steps Up on the Defense
Unfortunately for Bulls fans, the offense wasn’t alone in graduating some key pieces. The defense graduated some of their key leaders and producers including Khalil Hodge, Chuck Harris, Cam Lewis and more. UB will be looking to replace nearly 50% of 2018’s tackles, 53% of 2018’s sacks, and 58% of 2018’s turnovers forced. While that is a lot of production lost, the defense is by no means devoid of talent. James Patterson had an outstanding freshman season that was lost in the shadow of his brother’s season at RB for the Bulls. The defensive backfield is also returning a trio of play-makers in Tyrone Hill, Aapri Washington, and Joey Banks. You can read about their statistical prowess in our last article.
Bulls fans were treated to surprise impact seasons from three freshmen in 2018: Kevin Marks, Jaret Patterson, and James Patterson. Per 247 this year’s incoming freshmen class is the best in school history going back to when their database begins in 2002. One name to keep an eye on is Trevor Solomon-Wilson. The Bulls’ top recruit comes at a position of need; as a WR he will get a shot to compete for major playing time right away,
The Temple Game
This game will henceforth be referred to as the Revenge Bowl. Temple stumbled into their Week 2 match-up against the Bulls after falling to FCS opponent Villanova. The Bulls won the game thanks in part to this Anthony Johnson TD late in the game in what is known as “The Most Famous Flu Game in the History of Sports”.
Temple will roll into UB Stadium in 2019 looking to avenge that loss, and their new head coach has some experience doing so. Former NIU head coach Rod Carey was hired by Temple on January 10. Carey led NIU to a perfect 5-0 record against UB during his tenure as head coach there, and led a comeback win that UB fans won’t soon forget in 2018’s MAC Championship.
On a good note, the Bulls did flip a Temple K commit.
The UB kicking duties could be up for grabs this season with longtime kicker Adam Mitcheson gone and rising sophomore Alex McNulty missing an XP in the 1 point MAC championship loss to Carey.
Bowl Win #1?
MAC East Title MAC Championship Bowl Appearance
Top 5 NFL Draft Pick
- Bowl Win
The UB football program has been trending upward as of late and a lot has been achieved since becoming an FBS program 20 years ago; one of the last milestones for the Bulls to achieve is winning a bowl game. With a lot of talent returning from a 10 win team and a reasonably easy schedule this season the Bulls should be in contention for bowl eligibility. The MAC recently gained a primary affiliation with the Quick Lane Bowl, bringing their total affiliations up to six. Hopefully for Bulls fans, this reduces the odds of another 2017 situation for the Bulls, where they’re not selected for a bowl despite attaining bowl eligibility.