Buffalo (0-0, 0-0 MAC) vs. Albany (0-0, 0-0 MAC)
September 2, 2016
UB Stadium - 7:00 pm
Radio in Buffalo - 1520-AM WWKB
• This is the second straight season Buffalo will host Albany in the season-opener. The Bulls defeated Albany, 51-14, in last year's opener.
• This is the 13th meeting between UB and Albany, with the Great Danes holding a 7-5 advantage. Prior to last season, the teams met as Division III foes.
• The Bulls are 8-2 in their last 10 home openers.
• This is the eighth straight season the Bulls have hosted an FCS opponent. The Bulls are 7-0 during that stretch.
• The Bulls will have a new starting quarterback for the first time since Nov. 3, 2012. Joe Licata had started 40 straight games over that span.
• The Bulls return 13 starters from a season ago, including eight on defense.
• The Bulls have 42 new players on the roster this season. Phil Steele lists the Bulls as the fourth most inexperienced team in FBS.
• Senior wide receiver Marcus McGill is 76 yards shy of 1,000 receiving yards for his career.
• Buffalo is predicted to finish fourth in Mid-American Conference East Division.
• The Bulls are kicking off their 103rd season of football.
Bulls Open 2016 Campaign Against Albany
The University at Buffalo football team will kick off the 2016 season against Albany on Friday night at UB Stadium. The Bulls are coming off a season in which they went 5-7 overall and 3-5 in MAC play. The Bulls begin year two of the Lance Leipold Era. Leipold led the Bulls to a 5-7 mark in 2015, becoming the first UB head coach to win five games in his first season since Bob Deming went 6-3 in 1969. The Bulls return 13 starters, including eight on defensive side of the ball. Albany was 3-8 overall and 2-6 in the CAA last season. The Great Danes were picked 11th in the CAA preseason poll. Albany leads the all-time series, 7-5. Buffalo won the last meeting, 51-14, UB Stadium in the 2015 season opener.
Johnson Ready to Take Over
After a strong junior campaign, splitting time with Anthone Taylor, Jordan Johnson is ready to take over as the starting running back for the Bulls in 2016. Johnson rushed for 811 yards on 172 carries for a 4.7 yards per carry average last year. He had a knack for finding the endzone in 2015, scoring 12 rushing touchdowns. He tied for sixth in school history for a single season, four shy of the school record. Johnson started the first two games of his career as a junior in 2015. He rushed for 147 yards and two touchdowns in his first start against Ohio on Oct. 24 and followed that up by rushing for 123 yards and two more scores against Miami (OH) on Oct. 29. He became just the second running back in UB's FBS era to rush for 100 yards in each of his first two career starts.
For the first time since November of 2012, the Bulls will have someone other than Joe Licata lining up behind center. Licata had started the previous 40 games for the Bulls. After a strong fall camp, Grant Rohach and Tyree Jackson have emerged as the leading contenders for the job. Rohach is a graduate transfer from Iowa State where he started five games over his career with the Cyclones. He saw the most extensive action in 2013 when he appeared in seven games and started the final four of the season. He threw for 1,208 yards and eight touchdowns at Iowa State. Jackson redshirted in his first season with the Bulls last season. At 6-7, he is an imposing figure who threw for nearly 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns over his last two years of high school.
Buffalo will have plenty of new faces on the roster in 2016. In fact, 42 new players will suit up for the Bulls this season, making UB not only the most inexperienced team in the Mid-American Conference, but one of the most inexperienced teams in the nation. Phil Steele lists Buffalo as the fourth most inexperienced team in the nation.
Experience on D
The Bulls return eight starters to an experienced defense, including a pair of All-MAC defenders. Brandon Berry was a second-team All-MAC selection after piling up a career-best 104 tackles in 2015. He ranked second on the team with 11.5 tackles for loss. Boise Ross was one of the Bulls breakout defenders in 2015. The UB cornerback broke the school record for single-season passes defended with 20. He also ranked fifth in the nation in the same category. The Bulls also return their entire starting defensive line from a year ago with Brandon Crawford and Demone Harris at defensive end and Chris Ford and Max Perisse at defensive tackles and nose guard, respectively.
The Bulls placed three players on different preseason watch lists for the upcoming year. Senior cornerback Boise Ross was named to the watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award Watch, awarded to the nation's top defensive back. Senior tight end Mason Schreck was named to the John Mackey Award Watch List, given to the nation's top tight end. Sophomore James O'Hagan was named the Rimington Trophy Watch List, given to the best center in college football.
Former QBs The Bulls have a number of players on the offensive side of the ball that actually played quarterback in high school. Starting running back Jordan Johnson, starting receiver Marcus McGill and starting tight end Mason Schreck were all quarterbacks for their high school teams. In addition, reserve tight end Kevin Rogers and reserve wide receiver Jamarl Eiland were also quarterbacks in high school.
Youth at Inside Linebacker
With the graduation of Nick Gilbo and Travis Pitzonka, the Bulls will have fresh faces at the middle linebacker spot. Following a strong camp, sophomore JUCO transfer Khalil Hodge is slated to started while true freshman Matt Otwinowski is listed as the top reserve. Hodge transferred to UB after playing one season at the City College of San Francisco. He had an astounding 262 tackles his senior season at St. Mary's High School in Stockton, CA. At 6-3, 225, Otwinowski has good size for a true freshman. He had 87 tackles in seven games his senior year of high school and is the school record holder for career tackles.
McGill Leads Young Receivers
Marcus McGill had a breakout season for the Bulls in 2015 and will look for even bigger things in 2016. After missing the 2013 with an injury, McGill had 22 catches for 343 yards in 2014. Last season, he started all 12 games and had 50 receptions for 581 yards and four touchdowns - all career-highs. McGill leads a young receiving corps. Only three other receivers on the roster have registered a catch. Jacob Martinez has 43 catches for 433 yards over his career. Malcolm Robinson has 10 catches for 108 yards over his career. Jamarl Eiland has four receptions for 89 yards over his career.
New Look Bulls
The University at Buffalo unveiled a new set of athletics logos in April. While the traditional interlocking UB logo will serve as the primary mark, a new wordmark and spirit mark were also introduced. The new logos were part of a university-wide branding initiative. The new look for athletics is now more closely aligned with the university's strengthened and cohesive academic identity. The university's news release about launch of UB's new brand and identity strategy is available here. The new spirit mark is the first update to the bull since 2006. The sleek, classic bull head evokes a sense of energy, pride and action. Its iconic nature serves to represent the top-notch, competitive nature of UB Athletics. Additionally, a bold new "Buffalo Bulls" wordmark with a modernized font was introduced. While "Buffalo" will replace the "State University of New York Buffalo" wordmark previously featured on uniforms and apparel, New York State will remain an important part of UB Athletics' identity. In addition, the team will be wearing new uniforms for the first time since the 2011 campaign.
The Bulls added a trio of graduate transfers to the roster in the offseason. Quarterback Grant Rohach, defensive tackle Remaine Douglas and defensive end Joe Keels will all be eligible to play immediately. Rohach transferred from Iowa State where he started five games over his career. He saw the most extensive action of his career in 2013 when he appeared in seven games and started the final four of the season. He threw for 1,208 yards and eight touchdowns, completing 110-of-191 pass attempts. Douglas came to Buffalo from Lousiana-Lafayette where he played for current defensive line coach Tim Edwards. He appeared in 32 games and started twice for the Ragin' Cajuns. He had career totals of 25 tackles, three sacks and five tackles for loss. Keels transferred from Nebraska where he played two seasons for the Huskers. He appeared in five games in 2014, before an injury sidelined him in 2015.
All You Need is Lovejoy
Lovejoy, GA is a town of 6,300 and Lovejoy High School had a graduating class of 406 in 2014. Now three members of that same high school class play on the UB defense. Cornerback Brandon Williams, defensive end Randy Anyanwu and safety Jordan Collier were all teammates on the same Lovejoy team before coming to UB.
The Name Game
UB defensive back Boise Ross' full name is DuBois Ross - named for W.E.B. Du Bois, founder of the NAACP. He has two brothers, Duke Ellington Ross, named for the legendary jazz musician and Langston Hughes Ross, named after a poet and social activist.
On The Airwaves
Again this season, University at Buffalo football can be heard locally on ESPN 1520, a 50,000-watt station with one of the strongest signals in the nation. Calling all the play-by-play action of Bulls football for his 17th year, and ninth consecutive, will be Paul Peck. Back in the analyst role is former Navy standout quarterback Jim Kubiak. Scott Wilson will return to his sideline duties in 2016 and Brad Riter also returns as in game host. Again this season, the UB Football postgame show will take place at Santora's on Millersport with host Bob Gaughan. Jon Fuller will host the UB Football Insider with Lance Leipold on Thursday nights at 6:00 pm. The show airs on ESPN 1520 and is broadcast live from the Santora's Millersport location.