First the bad news
Buffalo, as a team, only return eight starters this season. No division 1A team returns fewer pieces of their 2018 puzzle than Lance Leipold’s Bulls.
So who did we lose, why did we lose them, and what’s the impact for 2019?
The “Skill position” side of the ball was crushed, particularly the receivers.
Receivers (Lost 5 out of 6 from the two deep)
When the clock ran out on UB’s bowl game things didn’t look so bad. UB had KJ Osborn, Charlie Jones, and Rodney Scott returning.
But none of those players is currently on the roster. Osborn left for Miami, Jones went to Iowa, and I’m not sure where or why Scott left, but he’s nowhere to be found.
When you throw in the loss of Tyler Mabry the Bulls are down their top six receiving targets from last season. The top three returning pass catchers are a backup tight end and two running backs.
Basically Coach Ianello has a total unit rebuild this season.
Quarterback (Lost the big guy)
The Bulls lost Tyree Jackson who decided to forgo his final year for the NFL draft. He graduated early and had three options. Stay at UB, grad transfer to another program, or try the draft.
The Draft didn’t work out so well, but Tyree has a decent chance of sticking with the Bills as a second or third string QB.
Kyle Vantrease and Dominic Johnson will fight for the job, through spring ball no clear favorite has emerged.
Ok, now the good news
The line is mostly intact, returning four starters. James O’Hagan leaves a huge hole to fill at center but if UB can manage a workable replacement they should have a very good offensive line this season.
And behind that line are the Sophomore duo of Marks and Patterson. UB’s top two running backs return.
They lose Reed and Hawkins, who both saw their time on the field fall off and transferred out.
The offense this next season, especially early, is going to have to run the ball well, and they are going to have to do it without the benefit of a proven deep passing game.
Last years running game benefited from the threat posed by Tyree Jackson and his top receivers. The returning line is going to have to deal with other teams stacking the box until Vantrease or Johnson prove to be a threat through the air.