Sitting here on a mid-December morning, 4-8, and for the first time in several years, I’m thinking about next season before Christmas.
The Grinch came early for Buffalo, he snuck down from Kanas in the middle of the night and took our coaching staff, and a huge number of players. He’s still at it by the way, Nolan Gorczyca, just announced he’s going the the Jayhawks.
But anyway, this leads me to the running game.
It’s no secret that the success that was built by Lance Leipold was squarely based on a ball-control offense that was helmed by a great game-managing quarterback, a solid line, and a couple of all-conference quality backs.
So last off-season, when Kevin Marks peeked in the portal and decided to stay at Buffalo it looked as if that recipe was going to hold again. Then.. Well, we’ve already talked about what happened.
The new line and new system did not help highlight Kevin Marks. The Senior had his worst season of the year. He got banged up and was never really the same after, eventually being supplanted by Dylan McDuffie.
Marks is off to try his hand in the NFL, and his body of work at Buffalo may be more than enough to get him a chance with someone in the spring.
Buffalo will start next year, likely, with McDuffie as the main back.
With all the challenges this team faced up front McDuffie put together an amazing season.
- 10th best single-season yard total in program history
- 14th highest number of carries in a season
- 12th highest yards per carry, in a season with at least 100 carries.
- 14th highest number of rushing touchdowns in a season
|Rank||Single Season Yards||Year||Yards||Single Season Attempts||Year||Att||Single Season YPC||Year||YPC||Single Season TD||Year||TD|
|1||Jaret Patterson||2019||1799||Jaret Patterson||2019||312||Jaret Patterson||2020||7.60||Jaret Patterson||2020||19|
|2||Branden Oliver||2013||1535||Branden Oliver||2013||310||Kevin Marks||2020||6.62||Jaret Patterson||2019||19|
|3||Anthone Taylor||2014||1403||Branden Oliver||2011||306||John Hartman||1990||6.02||James Starks||2008||16|
|4||Branden Oliver||2011||1395||Anthone Taylor||2014||282||Jaret Patterson||2019||5.77||O.D. Underwood||1986||15|
|5||James Starks||2008||1333||James Starks||2008||272||Branden Oliver||2012||5.55||Branden Oliver||2013||15|
|6||O.D. Underwood||1986||1,189||James Starks||2007||251||Jaret Patterson||2018||5.54||Jaret Patterson||2018||14|
|7||Anthony Swan||1996||1117||Anthony Swan||1996||244||Dave Dawson||2003||5.30||Kevin Marks||2018||13|
|8||James Starks||2007||1103||Anthony Swan||1995||236||Jordan Johnson||2016||5.20||Branden Oliver||2011||13|
|9||Jaret Patterson||2020||1072||Aaron Leeper||2002||235||O.D. Underwood||1986||5.19||Jordan Johnson||2015||12|
|10||Dylan McDuffie||2021||1049||O.D. Underwood||1986||229||Jim Barksdale||1966||5.19||Anthone Taylor||2014||12|
|11||Jordan Johnson||2016||1040||Kevin Marks||2019||227||Pat Whitehead||1982||5.13||James Starks||2007||12|
|12||Kevin Marks||2019||1035||Alan Bell||1991||225||Dylan McDuffie||2021||5.09||Pat Whitehead||1982||12|
|13||Alan Bell||1991||1017||O.D. Underwood||1987||209||Josh Roth||1998||5.07||Lee Jones||1967||12|
|14||Jaret Patterson||2018||1013||Dylan McDuffie||2021||206||Alex Zordich||2012||5.01||Dylan McDuffie||2021||11|
So after McDuffie who’s in the mix?
The guy who will most be pushing for the job, or a spot on some sort of running back committee would be Ron Cook Jr. Over the course of the year he supplanted Kevin Marks in terms of workload and managed it well.
Cook was also the most effective UB back in the passing game. Ending up third on the team in receptions and fourth on the team in receiving yards.
Also pushing for more work will be Mike Washington, the only freshman who got significant carries this year.
The concern for next years offense is not really going to be around the running backs, McDuffie showed enough this year to carry the load but the line in front of him was shredded by the portal and graduation.
If the rebuild goes well in the off season then McDUffie and Cook should be able to put in sold seasons next year.