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Friends with Bennies: Buffalo

SB Nation's Bull Run took a crack at some questions from us. We'll also be on their podcast "Last Bull In" tomorrow, be sure to check it out!

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

1)     Sooo this is awkward, we have your old Athletic Director. What were your guys' thoughts on Warde Manuel and his time at Buffalo?

Warde took a program that when it entered Div. 1 sports, floundered in all areas. Both on the field and in the classroom.  Warde immediately changed the culture that you will get an education while playing sports at UB. Warde will really be known as the AD who hired Turner Gill and brought the only really positive time for UB football. Let’s be honest, UB football has been the doormat for other football teams.

Under Gill, the Bulls won the MAC division, beat a no. 13 ranked team at the MAC championship and went to their only bowl game.

2)     There are rumors swirling that with Pasqualoni on his way out and Manuel's history with Turner Gill that Gill might be on his way to UConn. He was obviously the most successful coach you've ever had, but can you tell us a little bit more about the man, the coach, strengths, weaknesses, etc.?

I am very lucky to have had the pleasure of meeting Turner and have a relationship with him and many of the coaches that are on  the sidelines at Liberty. It makes sense for Warde to reach out to Turner. Warde obtained the UCONN position for having a very quiet program as far as student activities with increase scores, national media pouring down on UB with Turner, and being a large character that people liked.  Now, we would have loved to see Warde do more for Buffalo but he had a brief stint. I thank Warde for his efforts and I sure hope that he lifts UCONN to another level.  Enough about Warde you traitor!

Turner, just my feelings, is at a good spot right now. He is a very religious individual and being at Liberty I believe he feels at home.  Also, Liberty is working to move to the FBS level.  If Turner came to UCONN, you would receive a person who will genuinely connect with every player and get the most out of their talents.  A tireless worker who will not leave one stone unturned.  A coach who will bring a very skilled staff. Turner is a fierce competitor who will force the team to be competitive.   I believe that part of Turners problem at Kansas is he had to hire many ex-head coaches to appease the fans and media.  That clearly did not work and so goes the Charlie Weiss debacle.  The failure at Kansas could be the subject of banter by UCONN fans.

All the limelight did take away from the program as Turner had one foot out of the door his last year at UB. Also, UB lost its senior year the best running back Amherst had ever seen. James Starks missed his entire senior season.  Ask Green Bay fans today how they feel about Starks and injuries. The Kansas experience grounded Turner and I really believe made him an even better coach.  UConn and the community would be so lucky to have Turner as the head coach.  Also, when he walks into a recruits home in Florida or Texas and turns around the iPad starts the highlight reel and says, “Oh yeah, that was me back in the day!’ certainly helps.

3)     How has Buffalo looked this year overall, taking into consideration the wide disparities between the quality of Ohio State and Baylor vs. Stony Brook?

It has been a very rough beginning for UB and its fans.  It is hard for many to understand how the largest University in the State of New York system with the size and scope has to be the patsy for the “big time” teams and make sure the million dollar checks clear and the team returns beat and bruised.  Last year Buffalo played a good Georgia team tough and had them on the ropes.  We lost respectively to Georgia and the rest of the season was just fair.  Same this happened again this year, we looked respectable against Ohio State only to get beat down by Baylor.  Then to take a FCS Stony Brook into five overtimes to finally get our first win of the season.   Yes, we do have a win.

This is to be the season that UB was going to shine because of the incredibly talented seniors on this team.  Many fans, including myself, expected a loss to Ohio State, possibly a W against Baylor, and then a big win over Stony Brook.  Actually, many people chalked up a W over UCONN this year.  Much of that changed looking at the results of your opponents and the way you  fought overrated Michigan.

4) What are Buffalo's biggest strengths and weaknesses?

The biggest strength is the play of the Bull linebackers.  This also bleeds into the next question but keep an eye of Khalil Mack.  Projected to be a first round pick.  He had a career day against Ohio State.  Google Mack interception Ohio State.  Watch the athleticism of first catching the pass and secondly running from the QB and WR and making an amazing play to get in the end zone.  That being said, Baylor did an amazing job of scheming to limit his effectiveness, but Baylor is also a point producing machine this year.  He will wreak havoc in your backfield.   Buffalo was also to have a great running attack with Senior Bo Oliver.  Bo with a light season would have virtually owned every record in UB history.  Bo had a very tough game against Ohio State and maybe that was to be expected.  Hurt in the game against Baylor and did not play against Stony Brook.   UB is stating his is likely to play but I will believe it when I see it.  He did have two full weeks off.  The secondary was to shine but has been sub-par to be kind.

5) Any impact players we should be keeping our eyes on?

Also keep an eye on WR #19 Alex Neutz. He was unstoppable against Ohio State (their #1 DB was suspended but still going against #2 at the time talent) and was a few yards  short of the all-time UB of receiving yards in the first half against Baylor.  He was “rested” in the second half with the majority of starters. Another player, DC #22 Najja Johson also coming into the season with a chance to play on Sundays next year. He has struggled this year but UB fan’s are hoping that was more on the talent vs. the player.  A key matchup will be how Najja handles you top receiver. Again, the best player on the field this Saturday will be #46 Mack.  Enjoy watching him. Also, UB has 5 straight years of a new starter at QB.   That is not good.  QB is Joe Licata, a local Buffalo Boy who set state records in high school and came in late last year and won 3 of 4. Decent game against Ohio State, decent game against Baylor, and really struggled against Stony Book.  Looking for a break out game for Licata.

6) If an invitation to the American were out there for you or anyone else in the MAC, would that be considered an upgrade?

Of course they would consider a move to the AAC an upgrade. Temple moved on up out of the MAC.  Of all the schools in the MAC, UB and UMass have the best chance based on on the school and demographics. MAC is a great conference, but it does not produce any real revenue like the ACC. My feeling is that our new athletic director Danny White is positioning the (newly re-branded) New York Bulls for a jump to higher conference. If they offered UB, I think the our President would sign off so fast he might sprain his wrist.