AMHERST, N.Y.-Expectations for the University at Buffalo Bulls are high this season. The Bulls expect to contend for a MAC Championship.
UB won the conference championship in 2008 under former coach Turner Battle. Drew Willy was the quarterback. Now the Bulls seemed to have emerged from some lean years and Jeff Quinn's team is poised to make a run at the title with former Williamsville South star Joe Licata at quarterback. Quinn said at UB media day Tuesday. "He's worked extremely hard and you can't achieve anything unless you have a work ethic and Joe has that work ethic and I think that's displayed by his effort. And I think that's where our other players and his teammates feel his leadership is improving." Licata told Two On Your Side's Stu Boyar "I'm pretty confident. I've always been a confident kid you know but especially gaining this experience and gaining the respect of my teammates has helped me out a lot individually."
This is a deep and talented Bulls team on both sides of the ball. On defense senior linebacker Khalil Mack leads the way.Mackled the way with four preseason watch list recognitions, setting a new program record. It started with spots on the Chuck Bednarik, Bronko Nagurski, and Rotary Lombardi awards, coming soon after. All three awards also recognized Mack before the 2012 season. He would make his fourth list with the unveiling of the Butkus Award, marking the first time ever that a UB player was put in the running for the prestigious award. He is also the lone MAC player on the list.
Senior running back Brandon Oliver returns after missing a good portion of his junior year with a knee injury. He has also received his share of preseason recognition. Oliver who became the first player in school history to be named to the Maxwell Award watch list, made the list for the second straight year. He was one of seven MAC players on the list. Oliver is also one of seven MAC athletes to make the Doak Walker list, also repeating the honor from 2012's preseason. Despite numerous injuries that forced him to miss most of the season, Oliver still led the Bulls in rushing with 821 yards in just seven games. The senior running back averaged 117.3 rushing yards per game in 2012 to rank fourth in the Mid-American Conference. Oliver told Stu "its my last year, my senior season. I'm trying to go out with a bang."
UB opens the season at Ohio State on August 31st. Kickoff is scheduled for 12-noon.