If you were to ask UB Head Coach Lance Liepold, he’d admit there is a sense of urgency to get Bulls back to being a bowl contender.
In his first year, he was in unchartered territory competing at the DI ranks and in the Mid-American Conference for the first time. The Bulls won five games.
A season ago, not only were there questions about the successor to Joe Licata, but an additional 42 new faces on the roster learning a new system. UB won twice.
“We have a lot better understanding of what we need to do better, to compete in our conference,” he said.
In year three familiarity returns for the program. Tyree Jackson will begin his second straight years as the starting QB to lead a bounce back effort from a 10-loss season, which he took personally.
“To lose 10 games, it really hurts,” he said. “But I mean, we had a group message, we all sat down and talked about what we really wanted. We want to win the MAC, we want to do big things and we have to have the same work ethic when we come out here.”
While there is stability under center, Leipold is quick to admit there is some uncertainty on the defensive side which could put the pressure right back on the offense.
A year ago, UB’s defense forced five interceptions, the fourth fewest in the entire country. They also struggled to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks ranking 111th out of 128 FBS schools in sacks.
“Definitely a work in progress,” Leipold said during the Bulls second to last spring practice. “Unfortunately we still have to gain confidence, find ways to pressure the quarterback.
“We’re still working on increasing our team speed on defense, being better fundamentally and being gap sound and preventing big plays is going to be a big part of what we have to do.”
Still while there are questions, Leipold believes they’re getting close to where expectations should be.
“Are we there yet? Not yet," the head coach said. "But, we’re getting there But I can tell by the quality of our guys, their competitive nature, their willingness and wanting to get better and their passion for the game.”
Buffalo wraps up its practice session Friday with their annual spring game at UB Stadium at 7 p.m.