Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Bilo's College Football: Buffalo Bulls 2016 End of Year Report

Buffalo Bulls 2016 End of Year Report
Lance Liepold was a bold hire after winning big at Wisconsin-Whitewater on the D3 level. What Leipold has since figured out is that there is a huge jump from D3 to FBS football, even in the MAC. The Bulls finished a miserable 2-10 this fall, and beat only Akron in MAC play to finish 1-7 in the conference. The only other win was a shocker in non con play against Army. Leipold had better figure out a formula quickly, or else he can punch his ticket back to D3 in a hurry.
The offense was a disaster, and you can start to pin a lot of this on bad QB play, which is a recurring theme on bad football teams. Freshman Tyree Jackson got a bulk of the duty in 10 games this fall, passing for 1772 yards and 9 TDs, but he also tossed 9 picks and completed just 53.1% of his passes in a conference not exactly known for raging defenses. Senior Grant Rohach played in 9 games and passed for 628 yards, and could not break from even with a 2:2 TD to INT ratio. He completed just 54.8% of his passes.
Grade: D-
Running Backs
Jordan Johnson gave the Bulls something to be happy about, as he rushed for 1040 yards and scored 6 times, but only carried 16.67 times per game. With a standout like that, there is no reason why his average carries per game were not somewhere closer to 25. After Johnson, productivity fell way off with Jonathon Hawkins rushing for just 338 yards and one score. Hawkins did manage over 4.5 yards per carry, so he just needs to get some work. Johnson was a senior and will not be back.
Grade: B

It is rare that at TE leads any team in receiving these days, which is why Mason Schreck is an All-Bilo TE of the Year candidate. Schreck caught 59 passes for 651 yards and 4 TDs this season. As far as the wide receivers on this team, Marcus McGill caught just 40 passes for 573 yards and never saw the end zone. Malcolm Robinson caught only 22 balls as the second best receiver on this team that was not a TE. This was a huge area of concern all season.
Grade: D
Defensive Line
Brandon Crawford was a load up front for the Bulls, collecting 14 TFLs on the year. By comparison, Charles and Demone Harris combined for 9. Other than Crawford, there was little consistent applied pressure to opposing backfields, which allowed for teams to rush for 253 yards per game on the year. On the whole, teams averaged over 430 yards of offense per game against the Bulls because there was no push up front, save for one individual, and those 14 TFLs are solid, but not star inspiring numbers.
Grade: F
Khalil Hodge was a tackling machine for the Bulls, collecting 123 for the season, while Ishmael Hargrove recorded 103 on the season. Jarrett Franklin added 75, making this one of the most active LB corps in the MAC. The good news is that the unit returns almost intact for 2017, giving the Bulls a building block moving forward.
Grade: B+
Defensive Backs
Cameron Lewis and Boise Ross both broke up 7 passes in 2016, but nobody else recorded more than 3 on the season. Teams did not throw on this secondary as much as they ran on it, because teams ran on the Bulls very well. Another drawback is that the Bulls defenders picked off just 5 passes all season, with Tim Robins grabbing 2 of those. This unit is not loaded with play making ability on any level.
Grade: D+
Special Teams
Sophomore Adam Mitcheson was a mess at PK, hitting on only 11/18 FGs on the year. He also missed 2 PATs on the season, leaving a total of 23 points on the field. Kyle DeWeen also largely underwhelmed at Punter, averaging just 39.79 yards per punt on 6 punts per game. As a unit, Bulls kick returners only averaged 16.26 yards on kickoffs, and that is a terribly low number. Jamarl Eiland only averaged 8.9 yards per game on punt returns, so again, there was no star power there either.
Grade: F
2016 Successes: Linebackers were a bright spot this season, with a bulk of the core group returning in 2017. Johnson was a star at RB, but will not be back, and it is hard to see who can replace him from the group behind him.
2016 Failures:  The passing game was a mess, and their TE was the leading receiver, which makes matters worse. The D Line was run on constantly, and lacked big time play makers. The secondary could not take candy from a baby, and largely was bland and without much identity. Special teams were a complete mess.
2017 Non-Conference Opponents

At Minnesota, at Army, Colgate, FAU

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