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Pitt Vs. Buffalo Football: Q&A With Bull Run For Season Opener

How do you know that football season is here? Q&As, of course.

I recently took part in one with SB Nation's excellent Buffalo Bulls blog, Bull Run and you can see my answers to his questions over at his site here.

Here are his answers to my questions:

The Bulls program really took a step back last year under first-year coach Jeff Quinn, winning only two games - something not done since Turner Gill's first season back in 2006. I don't know that it's time to panic as he was only in his first season, but was the 2-10 year a big shock considering that Gill had averaged six wins per season from 2007-2009 and had things looking up a bit?

The loss of Gill crippled the Bulls. Not so much because he was a better coach than Jeff Quinn but because he was a different person (who is the better coach will have to wait until Quinn has some time). A lot of the players who came to Buffalo during the Gill era came for Turner and his staff, and they left in a big way. We lost some of Gills finest recruits. Zach Maynard who was our best QB will be starting for Cal this season. Willis and Sizemore are making an impact at KU and some others.

Quinn's "my way or the highway" mentality extended to his offensive system. That meant he tried to jam players recruited for a pro set into his spread. the last three games were hard to stomach but a step back was to be expected. No need for the panic button quite yet.

Last year the running back spot was held down by several players - six had at least 25 carries or more on the season. Do you expect any one player to seize that position this year and get the majority of the carries or will it be more of the same in 2011?

With Jeff Quinn you never know. I thought Ike Nduka was the right fit last season but he never quite got the reps to prove it. Brandon Oliver and Jeffvon Gill will be the go to guys this season, unless they are completely ineffective.

Marcus Rivers really stepped up last year and was one of the Bulls' biggest weapons on offense. Do you think he makes another big jump in 2011 and what his NFL prospects?

With Anderson and a better line I suspect the passing game picks up and Rivers has as good, if not a better season this year. I don't think he ends up on any draft boards though. He would have to do something really special to end up getting drafted after just two years of work in a non AQ conference.

Speaking of weapons on offense, the Bulls' offense in 2011 averaged less than 15 points a game. What are some reasons it could be better this season? What players could emerge to make it better? 

Chazz Anderson is a big difference but more important is the line in front of him. UB is, on average, about 25 pounds heaver per lineman this year and despite being a little banged up they are deeper than last season.

Buffalo really has played some solid non-conference opponents in recent years, taking on Pitt, Penn State, and Missouri the past five seasons and facing Tennessee and Pitt again in 2011. Pitt also schedules pretty tough out of conference and I've gone back and forth on the idea of playing quality non-conference opponents vs. scheduling more winnable games. What's your thought on this? Would you like to see Buffalo play some easier non-con opponents to maybe pad the record a bit or do you prefer to line up a few times against some better teams?

I'm torn. I really dislike the FCS games that many teams, Buffalo included, seem to schedule year in and year out. In my view you should play one world beater (a team ranked year in and year out), one quality opponent from an AQ conference, and two teams against mid majors.
In 2008, Buffalo played Pitt very competitively, losing 27-16 at home and Pitt won the last contest handily in 2009. Can Buffalo be competitive in this game and what are their keys for having a strong showing?

It's going to come down to the line. If UB can slow down the pass rush they may be able to make a game of it. I really am bearish on this season as much as I don't want to panic yet another two or three win season is certainly possible.