2019 UB Bulls Football Season Preview
The UB Bulls are coming off of a historic season reaching double-digit wins, a MAC Championship game appearance and earning a bowl bid–the latter two feats were losses, including a slim 32-29 Dollar General Bowl defeat at the hands of Troy–but 2018 was a season that will not be forgotten on campus. And that’s about all that will be pleasant this season for the Bulls–a memory of last year…
2018 Record: 10-4 overall, 7-1 in MAC
Head Coach: Lance Leipold, 4th season, 23-27
The Bulls had a disastrous offseason losing countless stars and starters. Let’s run them down:
QB- Tyree Jackson-left for the NFL early only to go undrafted and sign with the hometown Buffalo Bulls.
WR- Anthony Johnson-the senior should have been drafted but was not and signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Those two were known to depart–although Jackson should have stayed in school.
The painful part are the transfers:
WR- KJ Osborn- Can’t blame a guy who grew up in Coral Gables as a Hurricanes fan to head home to play for the U during his final season of eligibility. But the Bulls will miss the 53 catches for 892 yards and seven touchdowns he had in 2018. He was also impactful in the return game, hauling in 56 kicks and punts over the past two seasons for another 784 yards.
WR- Charlie Jones- More surprising than Osborn was Jones leaving, he totaled 395 yards and three touchdowns on 18 receptions in his freshman season. While adding 289 yards on 15 kickoff returns. Young talent leaving is not a good sign for the Bulls.
TE- Tyler Mabry- Mabry had 230 yards and two touchdowns on 27 catches in 2018, and had 567 yards and three touchdowns on 60 catches in his Buffalo career–but he is heading to the Big Ten as well, suiting up for Maryland in 2019.
RB- Emmanuel Reed- The Bulls running back depth took a hit with Reed transferring to FCS Maine. He ran for 371 yards and a touchdown in 13 games in 2018 for the Bulls. The 5-foot-9, 195-pound running back from Crestview, Fla., led UB with 840 yards and nine touchdowns on 190 carries in 2017, but saw his playing time decrease with the emergence of freshman Jaret Patterson last season.
What this means for Buffalo this season? The offense will not put up the numbers they did in 2018, like averaging 415 yards and 35 points per game.
The offensive line will be the best part of the team and offense only losing center James O’Hagan who has a great chance to make the New York Giants roster as a rookie. Behind this line, sophomore backs Jaret Patterson and Kevin Marks (they combined for close to 2,000 yards with 27 touchdowns last season) should blow up again as the O relies more on the ground attack.
Quarterback and receivers are question marks as Antonio Nunn is the best pass catcher on the team with little else behind him. Throwing him the ball will be either junior Kyle Vantrease who has a little experience, or 6-5, 220-pound Dominic Johnson.
The defense will miss a great one in Khalil Hodge, who racked up 143 tackles last season and five starters in all are gone including three of the top four tacklers, but there’s talent returning.
James Patterson was second on the team with 77 stops, and now he’s the leader of the linebacking corps with 230-pound, 31-tackle Matt Otwinsowski the likely replacement for Hodge on the inside.
The secondary is inexperienced on the outside, but has talent at the safety position.
Overall, the Bulls will find success if the replacements of their stars from a season ago step up. That is a big question mark, however. The receiving corps lost the top five pass catchers–it would’ve been an All-Conference group of WRs if KJ Osborn, Charlie Jones and TE Tyler Mabry didn’t transfer–they now have to rely on a whole lot of young players to make the new starting quarterback shine.
There are just enough problem games to keep from winning ten regular season games again, but the team will be just good enough to avoid an ugly drop-off. The team travels to Penn State and is the only almost-certain loss. The Temple game is in Amherst (but they will likely lose big), and so are the key MAC showdowns against Ohio and Toledo.
Overall, the Bulls can stay atop the MAC East standings, but it will not be easy and they will not be predicted to do so.