Bulls Preview: Buffalo Offense

UB Head Coach Jim Hofher (AP Photo/David Duprey)

The Buffalo Bulls come in sporting a 15-game losing streak following a 21-38 defeat at the hands of Akron last Saturday. Buffalo struggles seriously on the offense this season. They were outscored 194 to 60 in five games, but they did manage to score 21 point on a lost to Akron last week. Statistically, The Bulls average just 12 points per game this season.

Bulls Offense

Thus far this season, the Buffalo Bulls are 115th in total offense in Div I-A.  With the lost of wide receivers Tim Dance who recently transferred to another school prior to the lost to Akron last weekend, Matt Knueven will be looked upon to give starting sophomore quarterback, P.J. Piskorik, big targets to throw to.  Knueven is the only player on the Bulls team with the speed and he's a threat to go deep.  Knueven will carry the Bulls passing game.  This is not the type of situation conducive to inaugurating "air" Buffalo. While the Bulls have a host of young, tall receivers, they have little or no Div I-A experience.  It is unlikely that this group will find their game feet against the Knights.

Buffalo will likely move the ball on the ground more often against UCF on Saturday.  Buffalo's first five games indicate that they are likely to run more often then passing the ball.  Buffalo has an average of 166.20 yards per game in rushing compare to 91.40 yards per game in passing.  If Buffalo find its offense on the ground, this game will be competitive.  UCF expect them to do just that.  RB Aaron Leeper is a legit Div I-A star in the making.  Leeper, who turned down Boston College and others to stay close to home, was last season's MAC freshman of the year after running for 917 yards and 10 touchdowns.  He also caught 27 passes out of the backfield last year.  He'll be the designated "go to" guy when Buffalo employ the run Saturday.

Leeper will be running behind a solid and experienced offensive line.  T Zach Love (6-4, 296), G Alex Alvarez (6-4, 292), C Eric Weber  (6-5, 310), G Erik Zeppuhar (6-3, 285), T Jeff Mills (6-6, 297) anchor a young and talented offensive front.  Sophomore Tim Schmidt (6-6,301), senior Kevin Dunn (6-1, 286), junior Luke Johnson  (6-7, 310), and junior Dan Minocci (6-1,290) provide the depth.  Dunn and Minocci have 18 games starting experience between them.  Johnson is a JUCO who is expected to see playing time early.


What to expect

The Bulls will try to re-establish a passing game for their experienced QB.  Unfortunately, Buffalo don't seem to have the horses at wideout.  Accordingly they will probably be forced to rely on RB Leeper's ability to move the ball on the ground.  Stopping the run, historically, is the Knights' Achilles heel and the Bulls aware of that.  Buffalo should be able to run the ball behind their talented and experienced offensive line.  Buffalo averaging 166.20 yards per game on the ground, they will not win this game without their passing game.  In order to keep their running game going, the Knights can expect that the Bulls will try to exploit UCF linebackers by mixing up short passes to fullback, Tom Shaughnessy, and to tight ends Jr Brian Miller (6-5, 230) and redshirt freshman, Chad Upshaw (6-4, 250).  Miller was a JUCO All American and Upshaw is one of the Bulls top young players and the cousin of NFL great Gene Upshaw.

To keep Leeper fresh expect to see freshman Steve King and Chris McDuffie, along with sophomore Dave Dawson, throughout the game. All three are young speedsters who will spell Leeper just enough to get him his wind back.  However, don't underestimate these three young backups. They are quick, athletic running backs who can do damage in their own right.


What the Knights must do.

The key is at linebacker. The Knights have as much talent at linebacker as anyone in the MAC.  Buffalo coach Jim Hofher is expected to set up plays aimed at exploiting the over aggressiveness of the Knights linebacking corps.  Atari Bigby and Antoine Poe have to know their assignments, stick with their assignments and help the defensive line out.

If the linebackers do that, Buffalo's receivers won't be able to match up with UCF's quick secondary and the Leeper "based" running attack could get old fast.

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