I had higher expectations for Lance Leipold last year. Buffalo should've been bowl eligible with an offense loaded with talent, but interestingly enough, the offense stagnated throughout most of the season while the defense out performed on many occasions. Unfortunately this season is different because I don't think UB returns enough talent to see a bowl bid.
Surprisingly enough, I'm not worried about the quarterback situation despite graduating a four year starter like Joe Licata. Graduate transfer Grant Rohach showed a lot of promise this spring and I feel he has the experience to lead a football team. Although I think either Dominic Johnson and Tyree Jackson are the future of UB Football, I'd rather they take a year to develop before they're considered as the starter.
The rest of the offense is full of question marks. The offensive line is young and could pose problems no matter how good the QB is this year. Without a successful offensive line, I don't think UB will get a lot of wins this year. I have high expectations at wide receiver for Marcus McGill because he seemed to catch fire late last year. Andy Kotelnicki's offense relied heavily on tight end play and I expect to see the same. This could mean big things for Mason Schreck and Tyler Mabry. Running the ball will be more successful this year with Jordan Johnson at the helm.
I'm more excited about this year's defense. Brian Borland's bend but don't break scheme worked very well despite having one of the most inexperienced defenses in the conference. I can only wonder how much better things would've been on this side of the ball if last year's offense didn't go three-and-out as much as they did.
Like Dave Brand has already said, I believe that Boise Ross will make it to the NFL. He will be one of the best cornerback's in the MAC and it's tough to imagine that he won't make first team All-MAC. Buffalo's defensive line should be well off with another possible NFL prospect in Brandon Crawford and Chris Ford leading the way. I'm excited that both safeties will also return. The only question I still have is how strong the linebacker corps will be after graduating Nick Gilbo and Okezie Alozie, while also losing Solomon Jackson.
As for special teams, I think almost everything will be about the same although I have a lot of confidence in kicker Adam Mitcheson. The sophomore did a great job throughout much of last season and I expect that his accuracy will be much higher.
Finally, my score predictions for each game:
Buffalo 45 - Albany 14
Nevada 24 - Buffalo 17
Buffalo 21 - Army 17
Boston College 14 - Buffalo 6
Buffalo 17 - Kent State 21
Buffalo 27 - Ball State 14
Northern Illinois 35 - Buffalo 17
Buffalo 10 - Akron 21
Ohio 24 - Buffalo 28
Buffalo 31 - Miami 17
Western Michigan 42 - Buffalo 27
Bowling Green 31 - Buffalo 21
That puts this season at five wins, just shy of bowl eligibility. I wish I could be more optimistic but I think it's going to be tough for our offense to keep up at times. I think the Bulls will be on the cusp of making a bowl but the games versus Army and at Ohio could easily knock that out of the picture.