The Bulls will enter the 2020 football season — if it takes place on time — with two of the top-10 returning edge rushers in the nation, according to Anthony Treash of ESPN.
Using a combination of Pro Football Focus grades and PFF’s wins above average metric, Treash placed UB defensive ends Taylor Riggins and Malcolm Koonce on his list of elite returning edge rushers.
Riggins is the fourth-ranked player on Treash’s list, while Koonce is the eighth-ranked.
Last season, Riggins recorded 8.5 sacks in 13 games for the Bulls, which ranked second in the MAC, behind only Koonce. He added 50 tackles, 10.5 tackles-for-loss and recovered 3 fumbles en route to All-MAC honors.
Koonce finished the 2019 season as the MAC’s leader in sacks, with 9. He also had 34 tackles and 3 forced fumbles in 13 games, as he was named first-team All-MAC. He was named Defensive MVP of the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl after recording 5 tackles, 2 sacks and a forced fumble against Charlotte.
The dynamic pass-rushing duo is expected to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks next season.
Defensive coordinator Brian Borland had one of the elite defenses in college football last season, leading the MAC in total team defense and ranking seventh in the nation in total defense.
The Bulls allowed 291.9 yards per-game last season and were particularly stout against the run, allowing only 94.2 yards per-game.
Riggins and Koonce combined for 17.5 sacks in 2019, and the Bulls will need them in 2020 to consistently get to the quarterback.
Alexander Brown is an assistant multimedia editor and can be reached at Alexander.Brown@ubspectrum.com