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UB football looking to build off 2013 success

2013 was quite a season for the University at Buffalo football team.  The Bulls recorded eight wins, their most in the division 1-A era.  UB won a school record six Mid-American conference games and ended up with their second ever bowl berth.  But a number of key components to that success have graduated leaving the 2014 edition of the Bulls with something to prove.
Those losses include arguably the greatest player in UB history in Khalil Mack who became the highest drafted player in program history when Oakland selected him with the fifth overall pick last May.  Mack did everything a linebacker could possibly do from run defense to pass rush to coverage responsibilities.  He was an incredible playmaker and singlehandedly could destroy an opposing team's offense.
Speaking of offense, the Bulls took some big hits on that side of the ball.  The school's all time leading rusher, Brandon Oliver, is now in the San Diego Chargers camp.  Oliver ran for more than 16 hundred yards last season and had 15 touchdowns.  

The top two receiving threats are gone as well.  Alex Neutz and Fred Lee combined for 119 catches, 1,716 yards and 17 touchdowns.  

Head Coach Jeff Quinn, entering his fifth season in Amherst, knows those are big shoes to fill but he's confident in his "next Bull up" philosophy. "I think they're confident.  They want to prove something, absolutely" Quinn said during media day on Tuesday.   "I've been around them, talking to them individually and talking to them as a group.  They know they have something special going on and what I'm proud of is the fact that we have a team that is close.  That's a big part of this.  The morale is very high and when you have great morale, those kids will fight for each other."
As much as those losses may hurt, the Bulls have a major asset returning in junior quarterback Joe Licata.  The Williamsville South product, who became the starter with four games left in the 2012 season, threw for more than 28 hundred yards last season with 24 touchdowns and just eight interceptions.  He should provide the leadership, poise and play making the Bulls will need as they attempt to record back to back winning seasons for the first time since they returned to division one.

Joe is a true competitor and he's a leader.  He knows the responsibility at that position and he has some gifts" Quinn said  of his QB who has an 11-6 record as a starter.   "He's a talented young man.  He's got a nice nucleus of guys to get the ball to.  He's got a big group up front that can block.  We've got runners that can get things going north and south and he's got a perimeter group of guys, tight ends and receivers, that are all on the same page."
The Bulls open the season at home against Duquesne on August 30.  Baylor, ranked 10th in the USA Today pre-season poll will come to UB Stadium on September 12.  UB's MAC opener is September 27th at home against Miami of Ohio.  The Bulls were picked to finish fourth in the East division in the coach's pre-season poll.  You can hear all of the UB games on the new voice for UB Athletics, ESPN 1520.
You can hear some of Jeff Quinn's comments from media day:

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Locations : BuffaloMiamiOaklandOhio
People : Alex NeutzBrandon OliverFred LeeJeff QuinnJoe Licata