Define success: UB Bulls season represents opportunity for them to succeed in both long-term and short-term
Before I went through the games to pick my prediction, I just wondered: Does the record really matter?
It’s a silly question – of course it does. This football team wants to be good right away. Everyone wants to have a successful season, from the starting quarterback to the third string long-snapper. The Bulls want to go bowling and be able to sell and perform on a larger stage.
But what does it really matter if the Bulls can’t sustain success? What does a 6-6 record really do for the program in the long-term if several 4-8 seasons come after?
So while my predicted record of 6-6 for the Bulls suggests that the 2015 season will be a successful one, the true success for the Bulls will come if they can take a step forward and create a program that can be successful for years at a time.
First, let’s talk about the prediction. Yes, I believe the Bulls will be bowl eligible when it’s all said and done. The Bulls have one issue that concerns on offense, but other than the changes on the offensive line, I think the Bulls could be a really good offense next season.
Licata is one of the best quarterbacks in the conference, Taylor is one of the best running backs in the conference and you have three good receivers in seniors Marcus McGill, Ron Willoughby and sophomore Jacob Martinez. If the offensive line can gel quickly, I envision this offense being a headache for opposing defenses.
This is where I’d lie to you about the defense. But I’m not going to lie: I have no idea how to quantify this defense. Not only are new faces moving into more prominent positions, but the scheme changed as well. They have small pockets of experience on each level, but they’re a bit of an unknown quantity to me at this time.
The defense is an unknown quantity, but a potentially exciting one, especially on the defensive line. I know it was just a Spring Game, but I liked some of the young pass rushers on the depth chart for the Bulls. Guys like defensive ends Solomon Jackson and Demone Harris as long pass rushers on this 4-3 defense is going to be fun to watch.
The defense is also the area where Bulls head coach Lance Leipold and staff can begin to build for the future.
Among the projected defensive starters are five underclassmen and five juniors, including their best defensive player – linebacker Jarrett Franklin. The success of the defense is one of the main storylines to me because if they prove to be good, those are players that are here for another 24 to 36 games.
Same for juniors, who would have this season, as well as next season in the Leipold era.
The offense will have to wait, as the starting quarterback, running back and wide receiver positions are all seniors – with the QB position two deep with last-year players. Still, the offensive line is made up of a freshman, sophomore and two juniors, meaning who ever steps into the quarterback and running back positions next year, they will be anchored by an experienced offensive line.
The Bulls should’ve made a bowl game last season, but a coach firing, bad luck and, well, Mother Nature, prevented that. This season, I believe the Bulls have the offensive talent to make a bowl game. Defensively, the Bulls have a ton of changes on each level, but the experience and the change in scheme could result in the Bulls being better than last year.
While a bowl berth would be great, it would only be the first part of determining if Leipold’s Buffalo career is a success.
If he can get the younger players acclimated to college ball and have them succeed early in their careers, than the Bulls will have a better chance of sustaining success and the 2015 season could be one remembered as the start of a string of successful seasons, rather than just one bowl year.
I think everyone would like that, no?
6-6 (4-4 MAC)