Behind Enemy Lines: Buffalo

With the first game of the 2022 season coming up against the University of Buffalo Bulls, we asked Rob Ryan of trainwrecksports.com and Rachel Lenzi of Buffalo News some questions to help Terp fans expect what to see on Saturday against the Terps.

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Inside The Black And Gold: With coach Linguist in his second season as head coach, what would you like to see the team do differently from last season in week one?

Rob Ryan: In many games last season, UB Football led by Coach Linguist would get in very slow starts which would lead to big defecits in the second half. The team wuld always fight back, but their slow start would always be detrimental. So I would like to see this team play a full 60 minutes and not get out to a rough start.

Rachel Lenzi:

On offense, the Bulls need to find a running back – and designate a No. 1 back quickly – rather than go with a running-back-by-committee scenario. UB has had 1,000-yard backs in each of the last four seasons, and while the lack of experience at back may not allow UB to continue that trend, the Bulls have to establish consistency in running the ball.

 

On defense, UB has a solid front seven, including nose guard Daymond Williams and linebacker James Patterson, but it’s a group that needs to needs to mesh quickly, particularly at defensive back, where UB has two FBS transfers, defensive backs Jahmin Muse and Caleb Offord. UB’s pass defense was, at times, suspect in 2021, so this is an area where the Bulls need to place defensive emphasis.

IBG: Who are two players from each side of the ball that Terps fans should look out for week one?

RR: On offense, you should always look out for the running back room, especially Ron Cook. He is coming off a breakout year which included an All-MC Third Team selection and racked up 672 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns. He is slated to be the strting running back for the first time in his career. The second player Terps fans should look out for is Quian Williams. In his first year in Buffalo, Quian led the Bulls in receiving with 64 catches and 835 yards and was also selected to the All-MAC Third Team. On defense, two guys to watch out for is LB James Patterson and CB Jayden Oliver. James Patterson has been the heart of this defense for the past three years and looking to propel his career to the next level after a 2021  season which placed him on the All-MAC First Team and a spot on the preseason Chuck Bednarik Award watch list. Jayden Oliver is a newcomer to this UB defense but should make an immediate impact in a secondary that ranked near the bottom in all stats in 2021. A transfer from New Mexico Military Institute recorded 36 tackles and six interceptions in two years.

RL: James Patterson. Patterson is a fifth-year senior from nearby Glenn Dale., Md., and one of the MAC’s top linebackers. He led UB and was second in the Mid-American Conference with 116 tackles in 2021.

IBG: With a new starting quarterback this season, how does the offense fit into the new starter’s style of play?

RR: For the first time in three years, UB football will be led by a new QB in Cole Snyder. Snyder is a Buffalo native who returns home after a stint at Rutgers. Snyder will bring a whole new aspect to this offense that has been severely lacking since Tyree Jackson graduated in 2018.When UB was at its best, they had a dominant run game with the option of a QB with mobility and serviceable arm talent. This is what Snyder is looking to bring to this newly renovated offense.

RL:

Cole Snyder, a transfer from Rutgers, is a throw-first quarterback who works well in the pocket. He’ll have plenty of options to throw to, but it’s a matter of how quickly he’ll process and act on a new playbook, as he is a mid-year transfer from Rutgers. Experienced receivers like Williams, Justin Marshall and Jamari Gassett will have to help Snyder, too.

IBG: What transfers on both sides of the ball are you expecting to make the biggest impact week one?

RR: After the Transfer Portal armageddon that UB football endured last season, coach Linguist had to get some new talent in here fast and he turned to the transfer portal for help. Coach Linguist, known for his recruiting skills, showed that he is not one to mess around with.This incoming transfer class ranks as the best in school history and top in the MAC. A transfer to look out for on offense is WR Justin Marshall coming off a five year stint at Louisville and has the talent to possibly play on Sundays next year. On defense, a transfer to look out for is Caleb Offord, a transfer from Notre Dame, looking to finally make his mark in division one football.

RL:

On offense, Marshall should fit into the passing game, based on having FBS experience alone. On defense, either Muse or Offord – or both – has to set the tone against Maryland’s pass defense, because the Terps will be the first of a series teams the Bulls will face in the first half of the season who either have a skilled passing game or an intricate offense.

IBG: Are there any first time starters that you expect to have a bigger impact than most people would expect heading into week one?

RR: A first time starter that I expect to make a big impact is RB Mike Washington. Washington showed a lot of promise last season when he was subbed in for mop up roles late in gmes. After the transfer of star RB Dylan McDuffie, Washington is slated for a big workload and should handle it well.

RL: UB linebacker Shaun Dolac. Even though Dolac started UB’s final two games in 2021, he was productive off the bench, which likely earned him a starting spot this year. He’ll be counted on both for on-field production and for his leadership.

IBG: What would you say is the strength and weakness of the offense and defense for Buffalo this season?

RR: With the newly revamped UB football, these strengths and weaknesses should change very early in the season. But, on offense, the strength is their run game. UB football has relied on the run game heavily in the past and should be no different this year. As of right now, the weakness is the offensive line. This line is completely overhauled from a line that ranked towards the top in the last 4-5 years. This weakness I expect to change once this new group gets some playing time under their grasp. On defense, I would say their strength is their pass rush. Max Michel was off to a great start with 6.5 TFL, 4 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles before an injury ended his 2021 season. A weakness which once again I expect to change early on is the secondary. After a poor 2021 season, coach Linguist recruited heavily and brought in heavily recruited transfers out of high school that did not pan out at their previous schools.

RL: Strength of the offense: Experienced wide receivers. Strength of the defense: A defensive line that returns both starters – including nose guards Daymond Williams and George Wolo – and adds three transfers on the line, including defensive ends Ibrahim Kante (NC State) and Damian Jackson (Nebraska).

Weakness of the offense: Inexperience. UB doesn’t have a proven running back, returns only one starter from last season to the offensive line, and that line will be in front of a starting quarterback who, while he has experience, will make his first college start this weekend at Maryland.

Weakness of the defense: A secondary that will work together for the first time in a live game, and will open the season against an offense that will pass and pass often – in-season reps are a lot different than offseason or training camp reps.

IBG: What is your score prediction for the game?

RR: I think this is a game that many will count out Buffalo due to inexperience on both sides of the ball. I think UB keeps this one close for a little bit, but the overall talent gap between a middle of the pack MAC team and a Big Ten team will allow Maryland to take this one easily. My final score prediction is 41-20 Terps.

RL: Maryland 39-21

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