4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE BUFFALO DEFENSE
– The defense that finished third in the MAC allowing 355 yards and 26 points per game took a back seat to the great offense, but it was good enough to allow 17 points or fewer in six games – and went 0-4 when giving up 30 points or more. Five starters are gone including LB Khalil Hodge and three of the top four tacklers, but there’s talent returning.
James Patterson was second on the team with 77 stops, and now he’s the leader of the linebacking corps with 230-pound, 31-tackle Matt Otwinsowski the likely replacement for Hodge on the inside. This group will be okay, but Hodge – he made 143 tackles last season – was a star.
– Leading sacker Chuck Harris is gone from one end spot, but he is backup Taylor Riggins is back after finishing second on the team with five sacks. Getting back junior Chibueze Onwuka at tackle after he got knocked out hurt is a massive plus. His loss led to the emergence of 340-pound Eddie Wilson as part of a promising rotation in the interior.
– The corners are questionable, but the safeties will be a plus. The combination of Tyrone Hill and Joey Banks will partly make up for the inexperience on the outside. Junior Roy Baker is a big option at one corner spot and Aapri Washington saw starting time, but the Bulls have to rely on a few parts to come back healthy and for a few untested prospects to be ready for primetime right away.