Right after the Ball State game I started laying down the ground work for a "burn it all down" post.
Even though I wear blue tinted glasses, maybe especially because I wear them, this season sucks. I'd put the odds of UB getting to six wins at about 1%.
Or 0.01% but really does it matter?
We are probably not even a top 50 FCS team right now. The last time we were this bad was probably Jeff Quinn's first season. And even then Quinn did get us an FCS and a conference win that season.
I could reel off dozens of national rankings to drive the point home, but if you've been paying even a little attention then that would be beating a dead horse.
But as I started to lay out the case for a house keeping heat treatment some things occurred to me.
It starts on the line...
Our offensive line is thin and injured. There have been a lot of injuries to a line which was not deep enough to host a proper spring game. Offensive success generally begins and ends with the offensive line, over the past several year the Bulls have put a lot of linemen into NFL camps and several into the CFL. Those openings have never been properly back filled.
A young leader...
I'm very excited to see how Tyree Jackson's career unfolds at Buffalo, but he is a freshman. As such he will make freshman mistakes and does not have a lot of experience reading Division I defenses in game day situations.
It's worth noting that Jackson is already having one of the top 30 or so seasons ever by a UB quarterback, he's on pace for a season that would be near the top 10. And that's just passing. When you consider he is running the ball better than our running backs it's hard not to be excited.
Missing a burner...
Buffalo's two best weapons are probably Jordan Johnson and Mason Schreck. Neither is really a consistent deep threat, a receiver who defenses will have to key on. The Bulls have not really had a receiver step into that role. Marcus McGIll is the closest thing to a weapon but he's on pace for a 422 yard season. Kamathi Holsey and Malcolm Robinson have shown flashes here and there but as a whole Jackson does not have "a guy"
With all that said...
The second time UB decided to put Jackson in the shotgun on 4th and 1 I nearly lost it. The guy is 6-7 and behind a pretty good center. That to me is yet another example of the coaches not using the tools they have in the best way.
So while I've seen some improvement on the offense, and there are definitely mitigating circumstances the question remains, "is it enough"? Or should Leipold be considering some changes to his staff after this season?
The depth issue on the line is looking like a long term problem. So far this season I am aware of no every down linemen who have committed to UB. The line problem is not going away any time soon and my confidence we can coach around the problem is very thin.
There are, I suppose, a few options for drastic changes. Maybe give the offense to Matt Simon for the remainder of the season? You'd have to shift the special teams coaching to another staff member, perhaps Andy Kotelnicki since he would lose the offensive coordinator role.
Kotelnicki, even though he came over with Leipold, was not a long time member of Lance's staff at UW-Whitewater.
He spent just two years with Leipold before coming to Buffalo.
The Case For Change
His record as an offensive coordinator before heading to Whitewater was 19-43. His record at Buffalo is 6-11.
Only during his two years with the Warhawks did he put up offenses that won more games than they lost. In those two years he was 30-0.
Maybe he was not ready to run a D1 offense. Both Turner Gill and Jeff Quinn made adjustments to their coaching staffs when things were not working out, it's a part of the job that I'm sure they hated but it is part of sitting in the big chair.
When the Bills started 0-2 they removed Greg Roman and put running backs coach Anthony Lynn in charge of the offense. Since the move they are 4-0. A similar shakeup for the Bulls might salvage a few wins this season and show that the status quo at Buffalo is not considered good enough.
The case to stay
The Buffalo passing game is just starting to come around. Nobody can deny that there has been a significant improvement over the past two weeks the team has also gotten much better about ball control.
One could argue that the responsibility for our last two losses falls as much on the defense as it does the offense. Something that's not generally been true over the Leipold era.
So I'm conflicted. It's safe to assume we're not bowling this year so do you let Kotelnicki ride out the season to see if the offense really shows progress or do you bring in Simon to set up for the offseason?