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UB Bulls kick off spring practice, reschedule season opener

The University at Buffalo will now begin the season under the lights on a Thursday night, hosting Wagner.
Credit: AP
Buffalo Bulls running back Kevin Marks Jr. (41) carries the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game against the Akron Zips at UB stadium in Amherst, N.Y., Saturday Dec. 12, 2020. (AP/ Photo Jeffrey T. Barnes)

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Just three days after the University at Buffalo Men's Basketball team's season came to an end in the opening round of the National Invitation Tournament, the football team was back to work, kicking off spring practice on Monday.

"It was great just to be back out here with them... Those are still the things we're working towards being normal," Bulls' coach Lance Leipold said after Monday's practice.

The Bulls will now open the 2021 season on Thursday, Sept. 2 instead of Saturday, Sept. 4, hosting Wagner at UB Stadium.

Buffalo will follow up the season opener with three more non-conference games, at Nebraska, hosting Costal Carolina Carolina and at Old Dominion.

The Bulls will host Western Michigan Oct. 2 to begin conference play and will close out the regular season Nov. 23 against Ball State, the 2020 Mid-American Conference champions.

In a condensed season due to the pandemic, Buffalo won the MAC East with a perfect 5-0 regular season record in 2020. The Bulls lost the MAC Championship to Ball State, 38-28, but were able to end their season positively, with a 17-10 Christmas Day win over Marshall in the Camellia Bowl.

"Mentally there was a time... we think it's only game whatever three or four but mentally, it was probably like week 15 for them and I think we had to take some good looks at how we did things and we made some adjustments," Leipold said about last season.

"We'll hopefully be smart on how we're going to go through this, get through spring to be a better football team but stay healthy, and then turn our attentions towards, you know the fall season."

The Bulls will miss the services of star running back Jaret Patterson, who declared for the NFL Draft. The 2020 Doak Walker semifinalist tied an FBS record last season becoming the 12th player to pass 1,000 yards rushing in the first five games of the season.

Buffalo will return running back Kevin Marks Jr., who rushed for 741 yards last season. Marks originally entered the transfer portal but decided to stay in Buffalo for the upcoming season.