The big 2014 Buffalo football preview: What happens when stars leave?

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Quinn's fifth Buffalo squad returns 12 starters, including the quarterback, from the program's second eight-win FBS team. But the Bulls lose almost all of their star power as well, and only a cake-soft schedule gives them a shot at another bowl.

SB Nation 2014 College Football Countdown

Confused? Check out the advanced-stats glossary here.

1. Stars leave

If you're not at a powerhouse, the cards are always stacked against you. No one knows this better than the University of Buffalo.

The Bulls joined FBS in 1999 and proceeded to win 12 games in eight seasons. Turner Gill improved the program's output from one win to two in 2006, then five in 2007, then eight (with a shocking MAC title) in 2008. The Bulls faded back to 5-7 the next year, and Gill left for Kansas.

Jeff Quinn, Brian Kelly's offensive coordinator at Grand Valley State, Central Michigan, and Cincinnati, took over for Gill, and as with Gill, it took him a few years to truly build traction. In his fourth season, however, he helped to engineer another eight-win season and the program's second bowl trip (a Potato Bowl loss to San Diego State). His reward? Well, a contract extension, for one; also: a staff overhaul and a roster without Khalil Mack and other stars.

Quinn began the offseason tasked with replacing four assistants: co-coordinator and DBs coach Maurice Linguist (hired as Iowa State's new DBs coach), defensive line coach Jappy Oliver (Virginia's new defensive line coach), quarterbacks coach Don Patterson (UConn's new quarterbacks coach and assistant head coach), and strength and conditioning coach Zach Duval (Wyoming's new director of sports performance).

New assistants can work out perfectly well -- as with any hire, from head coach to graduate assistant, it is more-or-less a coin flip -- but these new assistants will be working with new talent in key roles. Running back Branden Oliver and receiver Alex Neutz are gone. So are all-conference guard Jasen Carlson and both starting defensive ends. Star defensive backs Okoye Houston and Najja Houston have run out of eligibility, as has outside linebacker Adam Redden. And, of course, so has surefire first-round draft pick Khalil Mack.

So basically, almost every reason for Buffalo's strong 2013 campaign is gone, other than Quinn himself. And now the rebuilding resumes. Will it take four more years for Quinn to break through again?

2. Now what?

That was, of course, a bit fatalistic. Not every difference-maker is gone, and this is not an abandon-all-hope situation.

The new assistants have quite a bit of experience and/or upside -- new defensive line coach Chris Cosh is a former coordinator at USF and Kansas State, new defensive backs coach Eric Lewis was Weber State's coordinator last year, etc. -- and this team didn't exactly lose all 22 starters. The quarterback is back, as are four starters on a seasoned offensive line. The edges of the defense (end, OLB, cornerback) have been dinged, but the backbone up the middle could be strong. Special teams should still be a relative strength.

The cupboard is not bare, but we'll have to see whether Quinn's 2014 Bulls are capable of taking advantage of a weak schedule (opponents projected better than 100th in the initial F/+ projections: two) and reaching bowl eligibility again in a transition year.

2013 Schedule & Results

Record: 8-5 | Adj. Record: 5-8 | Final F/+ Rk: 80
Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Score W-L Adj. Score Adj. W-L 5-gm Adj. Avg.
31-Aug at Ohio State 9 20-40 L 21.7 - 22.4 L
7-Sep at Baylor 7 13-70 L 24.4 - 41.4 L
14-Sep Stony Brook N/A 26-23 W 14.4 - 24.3 L
28-Sep Connecticut 93 41-12 W 27.3 - 19.8 W
5-Oct Eastern Michigan 124 42-14 W 21.3 - 28.1 L -5.4
12-Oct at Western Michigan 117 33-0 W 27.0 - 15.3 W -2.9
19-Oct Massachusetts 118 32-3 W 22.2 - 29.6 L -1.0
26-Oct at Kent State 106 41-21 W 36.0 - 31.6 W +1.9
5-Nov Ohio 104 30-3 W 38.0 - 8.7 W +6.2
12-Nov at Toledo 62 41-51 L 33.9 - 35.0 L +7.4
19-Nov at Miami (Ohio) 123 44-7 W 25.3 - 24.2 W +5.3
29-Nov Bowling Green 47 7-24 L 18.4 - 21.9 L +6.0
21-Dec vs. San Diego State 89 24-49 L 19.0 - 35.5 L +1.9
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk Spec. Tms. Rk
F/+ -6.6% 86 -1.5% 71 +0.3% 63
Points Per Game 30.3 53 24.4 40
Adj. Points Per Game 25.3 94 26.0 49

3. A couple of eggs, but otherwise...

For most of the 2013 season, Buffalo was a team slightly better than the norm.

Adj. Score is designed to gauge how a team would have performed against a perfectly average opponent (with an average number of breaks) in a given week; in four of 13 games, the Bulls were within 10 points of said average opponent, one way or the other. Two games plumped the Bulls' averages up a bit (wins over Western Michigan and Ohio by a combined 63-3), but two games were major drags on the averages (losses to Baylor and SDSU by a combined 119-37). Remove Baylor and SDSU, and Buffalo's adjusted scoring margin is plus-2.3 points per game, a healthy, above-average mark.

But when it poorly for the Bulls, it went really poorly.

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.06 100 IsoPPP+ 90.0 110
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 42.2% 69 Succ. Rt. + 88.9 99
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 31.3 95 Def. FP+ 96.4 94
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.4 53 Redzone S&P+ 94.6 84
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 20.6 ACTUAL 15 -5.6
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 78 108 100 93
RUSHING 68 114 109 94
PASSING 70 93 80 69
Standard Downs 107 99 108
Passing Downs 105 92 114
Q1 Rk 124 1st Down Rk 105
Q2 Rk 94 2nd Down Rk 102
Q3 Rk 64 3rd Down Rk 86
Q4 Rk 77

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2014 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Comp Att Yards Comp
Rate
TD INT Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Joe Licata 6'2, 226 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 233 402 2824 24 8 58.0% 19 4.5% 6.5
Alex Zordich 5 12 66 0 0 41.7% 0 0.0% 5.5
Tony Daniel 6'5, 206 Jr. 2 stars (5.3)





Collin Michael 6'5, 224 So. 3 stars (5.5)








Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Carry
Opp.
Rate
Branden Oliver RB 310 1535 15 5.0 4.5 38.7%
Anthone Taylor RB 5'10, 209 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 82 399 3 4.9 4.2 39.0%
James Potts RB 5'11, 194 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 58 201 0 3.5 2.7 31.0%
Joe Licata QB 6'2, 226 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 15 34 1 2.3 3.9 26.7%
Alex Zordich QB 13 76 0 5.8 3.0 53.8%
Devin Campbell RB 5'11, 205 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 11 21 2 1.9 2.6 18.2%
Brandon Murie RB 7 31 0 4.4 7.8 28.6%
James Coleman RB 6'1, 232 RSFr. 2 stars (5.3)
Gary Hosey RB 6'0, 230 Fr. 2 stars (5.4)




4. Oliver was respectable and replaceable

In this preview, we're going to be talking about some truly impressive (and departed) stars. Everybody knows about Khalil Mack, but there were other high-level performers on the defense as well. And Alex Neutz was outstanding despite a poor bowl game.

It's easy to lump running back Branden Oliver into that group, and for all we know he was infinitely better in 2013 than any Buffalo running back will be in 2014. He was prolific for the Bulls, racking up over 4,700 rushing and receiving yards (and 35 touchdowns) in four seasons up north. But his averages were never eye-popping. He was decent in most areas -- efficiency, durability, receiving, etc. -- and spectacular in none.

Of all of the departed stars, Oliver is the one I'm least concerned with Buffalo replacing. Between Anthone Taylor (who approximated Oliver's production quite well), veterans James Potts and Devin Campbell, and perhaps a newbie like James Coleman or Gary Hosey, I'm pretty confident that Buffalo's running backs will be just about as solid as they were last year. And if they get more help from the offensive line than Oliver did in 2013, that's even better.

Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target
Rate
%SD Yds/
Target
NEY Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
Alex Neutz WR 102 61 1024 59.8% 25.4% 56.4% 10.0 257 8.7 110.7
Fred Lee WR 98 58 685 59.2% 24.4% 52.6% 7.0 -48 6.2 74.1
Mason Schreck TE 6'5, 229 So. 2 stars (5.2) 39 17 147 43.6% 9.7% 46.9% 3.8 -108 3.8 15.9
Branden Oliver RB 30 25 180 83.3% 7.5% 50.0% 6.0 -88 6.1 19.5
Devin Campbell RB 5'11, 205 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 26 19 200 73.1% 6.5% 47.8% 7.7 -16 7.7 21.6
Boise Ross WR 6'0, 173 So. 2 stars (5.4) 23 13 156 56.5% 5.7% 66.7% 6.8 -12 9.0 16.9
Jimmy Gordon TE 17 9 108 52.9% 4.2% 50.0% 6.4 -13 2.7 11.7
Matt Weiser TE 6'5, 241 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 15 13 154 86.7% 3.7% 50.0% 10.3 17 7.5 16.7
Devon Hughes WR 6'0, 188 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 14 7 91 50.0% 3.5% 66.7% 6.5 -6 6.7 9.8
Anthone Taylor RB 5'10, 209 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 10 7 45 70.0% 2.5% 50.0% 4.5 -36 4.7 4.9
John Dunmore WR 6'0, 178 Sr. NR 10 3 30 30.0% 2.5% 55.6% 3.0 -27 3.3 3.2
Ron Willoughby WR 6'4, 196 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 5 3 83 60.0% 1.2% 100.0% 16.6 45 5.3 9.0
Alex Dennison FB 5 5 40 100.0% 1.2% 60.0% 8.0 -10 7.9 4.3
Cordero Dixon WR 5'11, 180 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 3 1 6 33.3% 0.7% 100.0% 2.0 -12 1.7 0.6
Malcolm Robinson WR 6'1, 199 So. 2 stars (5.3) 3 1 8 33.3% 0.7% N/A 2.7 -10 0.0 0.9
Marcus McGill WR 6'1, 227 Jr. 2 stars (5.4)
Jamarl Eiland WR 5'10, 190 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5)








5. Now, about that receiving corps...

The offensive line was pretty poor in all run-blocking categories in 2013 but does return six players with starting experience (100 career starts), including three-year starting guard Andre Davis and two-year starting center Trevor Sales. There is hope for the run game in general. But that only really matters if the passing game is able to avoid becoming a total liability.

In overtaking the mobile but mistake-prone Alex Zordich for the starting job last fall, quarterback Joe Licata brought a bit of stability to the Buffalo quarterback position. Then a three-star sophomore, Licata still left a bit to be desired from an efficiency standpoint, but he threw far fewer interceptions, and he was solid in play-action.

In 2014, the bar gets raised for Licata. He will be without a high-efficiency dump-off threat in Oliver and No. 2 receiver Fred Lee, sure, but the biggest loss is Neutz, Buffalo's best (only?) big-play weapon. In four years, Neutz caught 195 passes for 3,094 yards and 31 scores. Despite Licata's sub-60 percent completion rate, which suggests a lot of shots downfield, Neutz was the only Bull regular to average greater than 12.0 yards per catch, and he blew that number away: 16.8 per catch in 2013, 15.9 for his career. Buffalo was big-play challenged in 2013 with Neutz; what happens without him?

From a recruiting standpoint, there appears to be a little bit of hope here. Senior Devon Hughes is a former three-star signee, as is redshirt freshman Jamari Elland, and sophomore Boise Ross was a high-two. Still, Hughes has caught 48 passes in three years, and Ross averaged 6.8 yards per target as a freshman. Will opponents have any reason to fear this offense from a big-play perspective?

Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 84 2.67 3.07 37.2% 61.4% 21.2% 120.5 4.7% 4.0%
Rank 117 100 81 86 101 92 46 66 21
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Career Starts Honors/Notes
Jasen Carlson LG 26 1st All-MAC
Andre Davis LG 6'4, 320 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 37
Trevor Sales C 6'2, 327 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 25
Jake Silas RT 6'7, 310 Sr. NR 13
Dillon Guy RG 6'4, 320 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 11
Robert Blodgett RG 6'5, 307 Jr. NR 8
John Kling LT 6'7, 305 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 6
Todd Therrien LG 6'1, 291 Jr. NR 0
Andrew Borruso C 6'1, 285 So. NR 0
Albert McCoy RT 6'4, 277 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0
Brandon Manosalvas OL 6'4, 307 RSFr. 2 stars (5.2)
Andy Fidler OL 6'6, 280 Fr. 2 stars (5.3)
Skylar Hartley OL 6'2, 300 Fr. 2 stars (5.3)

Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.28 114 IsoPPP+ 88.6 115
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 38.0% 24 Succ. Rt. + 104.7 41
FIELD POSITION Off. Avg. FP 31.6 35 Off. FP+ 102.5 32
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 3.8 25 Redzone S&P+ 100.8 56
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 26.7 ACTUAL 30.0 +3.3
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 50 54 41 84
RUSHING 67 47 35 76
PASSING 38 71 51 80
Standard Downs 38 24 103
Passing Downs 93 101 104
Q1 Rk 97 1st Down Rk 37
Q2 Rk 58 2nd Down Rk 91
Q3 Rk 21 3rd Down Rk 94
Q4 Rk 100

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 104.6 2.78 3.16 37.9% 71.0% 21.6% 150.7 7.5% 10.8%
Rank 45 41 49 47 88 32 9 8 6
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Beau Bachtelle DE 13 32.0 4.6% 5.0 3.5 0 4 0 0
Colby Way DE 12 25.5 3.6% 8.5 5.0 0 0 0 0
Kristjan Sokoli NG 6'5, 300 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 13 20.0 2.8% 5.0 2.5 0 1 0 0
Tedroy Lynch DE 6'2, 249 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 11 13.5 1.9% 2.5 2.5 0 0 0 0
Dalton Barksdale NG 6'3, 304 Sr. NR 13 13.0 1.8% 2.0 0.5 0 0 0 0
Brandon Crawford DE 6'2, 229 So. 2 stars (5.3) 8 6.0 0.9% 2.0 1.0 0 0 1 0
Max Perisse DE 6'4, 266 So. 2 stars (5.2) 12 3.0 0.4% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Jake Khoury DT 6'3, 280 Fr. 2 stars (5.3)






6. Pass rush: Devastated

The bend-don't-break defense is rather common in college football, and it's not hard to understand why. If you tackle well, limit big plays, and live to fight another down, perhaps your opponent will eventually make a mistake.

There is often reward for those who refuse to bend, however. In 2013, Buffalo's defense was the exact opposite of the typical bend-don't-break offering. The Bulls tried to break you instead. Blessed with a top-10 pass rush, a strong line, and perhaps the best linebacker in college football, Buffalo gave you nothing intentionally and made a havoc play (a tackle for loss, a pass break-up, an interception, or a forced fumble) once every five snaps, eighth-most in the country. The Bulls' defensive success rates were among the best at the mid-major level, and they forced passing downs with ease.

The problem: when the Bulls broke down, they broke down. The big plays Buffalo allowed were bigger than almost anybody else's, and the result was some pretty high variance. Buffalo allowed 4.1 yards per play or fewer five times in 13 games and allowed 6.4 or greater five times, and despite all of the quality up front, the defense ranked just 71st in Def. F/+ -- certainly not bad, but not as good as it could have been.

In 2014, the defensive personality could change drastically. None of the four Buffalo players with greater than 5.5 tackles for loss return, and only two of seven Bulls with at least two sacks are back. All four starting ends (Beau Bachtelle and Colby Way) and outside linebackers (Khalil Mack and Adam Redden) are gone. Buffalo had a terrifying edge presence in 2013; that's all gone now.

Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Khalil Mack OLB 13 78.0 11.1% 19.0 10.5 3 7 5 0
Lee Skinner ILB 6'2, 233 Sr. NR 13 57.5 8.2% 3.5 0.5 1 0 0 0
Adam Redden OLB 10 51.0 7.3% 12.5 4.5 0 2 2 0
Blake Bean ILB 6'1, 232 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 10 40.5 5.8% 5.5 1.0 0 1 1 0
Okezie Alozie OLB 6'0, 208 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 13 33.5 4.8% 2.5 1.0 0 2 0 0
Jake Stockman ILB 6'2, 237 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 13 31.0 4.4% 5.5 1.0 1 0 1 0
Jarrett Franklin OLB 6'0, 200 So. 2 stars (5.2) 11 17.0 2.4% 3.0 1.5 0 1 1 0
Nick Gilbo LB 6'1, 220 Jr. NR 6 13.5 1.9% 2.0 1.0 1 0 1 0
Travis Pitzonka ILB 6'1, 217 Jr. NR 13 3.5 0.5% 0.0 0.0 0 0 1 0
Solomon Jackson LB 6'1, 230 RSFr. 2 stars (5.3)
Corey Henderson LB 6'3, 250 Fr. 3 stars (5.5)
Juwan Jackson LB 6'4, 215 Fr. 3 stars (5.5)
Will White LB 6'1, 215 Fr. 3 stars (5.5)







7. Solid up the middle

Two of Buffalo's top three safeties are gone, so there is no immediate guarantee that improvement in the big-play realm will offset regression in efficiency.

Still, it has to be encouraging that the middle of the defense will still be experienced and solid. Nose guard Kristjan Sokoli returns, as do both starting inside linebackers in this 3-4 scheme (Lee Skinner, Blake Bean). Backup ILB Jake Stockman also wreaked havoc at times, with 5.5 tackles for loss among his 31.0 tackles, so it wouldn't be surprising to see one of these three lining up on the outside this time around. Throw in experienced secondary pieces like free safety Derek Brim and corner Cortney Lester, and you've at least got a chance to improve in terms of big-play prevention.

8. Mack's legacy

Despite the attrition in star power, Quinn didn't panic and attempt to bring in a ton of JUCO transfers. His recruiting class was based entirely in the prep ranks, which could obviously pay off in the long-term. And he might not even have to wait too long to get a key contribution from the 2014 class.

Act I: Player A becomes transcendent star for school.
Act II: New recruits sign on to become the Next Player A.
Act III: School becomes [Player A's Position] U.

This is the way it works in our head, even if things rarely ever play out this way. But as Khalil Mack prepares for his selection near the top of the first round at the NFL Draft in another couple of months, his former team signed three highly touted linebackers to become the Next Mack.

It probably isn't a coincidence that all three three-star signees in Buffalo's recruiting class are projected linebackers. With an aggressive scheme and playing time available (and, with three seniors among the top four returnees, there will be even more playing time coming open soon), the trio of Corey Henderson, Juwan Jackson, and Will White might not have to wait long to make an impact and expand Mack's legacy.

Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Okoye Houston SS 13 55.0 7.8% 7 2 0 6 0 1
Derek Brim FS 6'0, 199 Sr. NR 13 46.5 6.6% 0.5 0 0 4 2 0
Najja Johnson CB 13 37.0 5.3% 0.5 0 3 9 0 0
Cortney Lester CB 6'0, 182 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 13 29.5 4.2% 0.5 0 3 6 0 1
Tomarris Bell SS 13 22.5 3.2% 2 0 0 4 0 0
Marqus Baker CB 5'10, 181 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 13 13.0 1.8% 0 0 1 3 0 0
Witney Sherry FS 6'0, 188 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 11 12.5 1.8% 0 0 1 3 0 0
Brandon Berry DB 6'0, 205 So. 2 stars (5.4) 13 11.0 1.6% 1 0 0 0 0 0
Houston Glass DB 6'0, 188 So. 2 stars (5.3) 11 8.5 1.2% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Dwellie Striggles CB 5'10, 185 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 12 6.5 0.9% 0 0 1 0 0 0
Carlos Lammons DB 11 3.5 0.5% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Terrance Wilson CB 5'10, 175 Fr. 2 stars (5.3)
Ryan Williamson S 6'0, 175 Fr. 2 stars (5.3)






Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Tyler Grassman 6'1, 195 Jr. 71 40.0 3 17 26 60.6%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Tyler Grassman 6'1, 195 Jr. 61 54.9 10 6 16.4%
Patrick Clarke 6'2, 193 Sr. 9 59.3 4 0 44.4%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2014
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Patrick Clarke 6'2, 193 Sr. 45-48 8-10 80.0% 5-10 50.0%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Devin Campbell KR 5'11, 205 Jr. 28 23.9 1
Boise Ross KR 6'0, 173 So. 8 23.6 0
Devin Campbell PR 5'11, 205 Jr. 5 4.8 0
Alex Neutz PR 4 7.0 0
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 63
Field Goal Efficiency 55
Punt Return Efficiency 70
Kick Return Efficiency 12
Punt Efficiency 89
Kickoff Efficiency 100
Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency 33

9. Field position strength

Big plays were certainly a problem at times, but more often than not Buffalo leveraged opponents into passing downs and finished drives off with punts (often of the three-and-out variety) or turnovers. When you throw in a strong kick return man in Devin Campbell and a not-awful punter in Tyler Grassman, you've got a recipe for a pretty strong field position game.

Obviously the defense has quite a bit of work to do to replicate last year's success rates, but with Campbell and Grassman returning, along with a decent place-kicker in Patrick Clarke, the special teams unit should once again hold up its end of the bargain.

2014 Schedule & Projection Factors

2014 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. Rk
30-Aug Duquesne NR
6-Sep at Army 101
13-Sep Baylor 25
20-Sep Norfolk State NR
27-Sep Miami (Ohio) 121
4-Oct at Bowling Green 60
11-Oct at Eastern Michigan 122
25-Oct Central Michigan 106
5-Nov at Ohio 108
11-Nov Akron 118
19-Nov Kent State 102
28-Nov at Massachusetts 123
Five-Year F/+ Rk -14.2% (100)
Two-Year Recruiting Rk 121
TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin* 15 / 6.1
TO Luck/Game +3.4
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 12 (7, 5)

10. A solid future

Buffalo is playing the long game here. Quinn lost a ton of star power and a lot of assistants, but the moves he made in response was far from panicked. He is building around four-year talent, he is witnessing the revamping and upgrade of Buffalo's athletic facilities, and he is taking his time. This is admirable, but in a business not known for its patience, it will be interesting to see what happens if Buffalo's record drops back below .500 for a couple of years.

Of course, even if Buffalo drops out of the top-100, the Bulls will have a decent shot at .500. They'll need to go 7-5 to reach a bowl thanks to two FCS opponents, but seven of eight MAC opponents are projected 102nd or worse, and a 4-0 home record in conference play isn't out of the question. Win your two FCS games and win any single game on the road, and that's a bowl despite all of the turnover. I'm leaning more toward five or six wins for this inexperienced squad, but if that is accompanied by growth in the front seven and at receiver, that won't be the end of the world.

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