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Buffalo Trap?: The CORN NATION Q&A With Buffalo

We move up from 1-AA Fordham to one of the better Group of Five programs over the last three years. The expectations are oddly similar.

Seemed like a good excuse as any to throw a picture of Turner Gill up here.
Photo by: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

When the Nebraska Cornhuskers scheduled the Buffalo Bulls they probably weren’t planning on getting a team who was making going bowling a regular thing again (unlike us) and had been to two conference championship games in the last three years (again, unlike us) and doing it with a power ground game (as many old school fans are more than happy to point out - unlike us).

Buffalo has had some Husker connections in the form of former head coaches Turner Gill and Lance Leipold, the latter of which just followed Coach Gill’s ill-advised “step up” to the University of Kansas.

To give us the perspective on Buffalo’s trip to Memorial Stadium, Tim Riordan of SBNation’s Bull Run was kind enough to answer some of our burning questions. He let us know that early impressions new coach Maurice Linguist are very positive, why memories of Coach Leipold aren’t necessarily warm, and, if we’re honest with ourselves, has a game prediction which makes quite a bit of sense until proven otherwise. Thanks much, Tim!

Away we go..

Have to start with this since he coached both at Nebraska & Nebraska-Omaha before his amazing run as the HC in Wisconsin-Whitewater – how sad were you to see Lance Leipold go? Did it sting a little that he moved on to a Jayhawk team Buffalo would likely handle pretty easily?

It was not really crushing to see Leipold go. I think we all knew we were on borrowed time but it’s not “that he went”, it’s “how and when he went” that really hurt. We survived the normal coaching change period, retained some key talent in Kevin Marks, and looked like we had a possible 10 win season sitting in front of us.

When he left in June, and took the entire coaching staff (save Ianello) along with six players things got really dim. It’s a huge ask make a season a success when you lose your entire staff two months before training camp and key pieces of your offensive and defensive lines. While we don’t know if this season will be a success, it’s not looking as dim as it did when Lance pulled up stakes, grabbed a bunch of talent, and left.

As far as where he went, naaa, I don’t care. I’ve been covering mid major sports long enough to realize that if you offer anyone several times their salary and a five year contract they can poach you. Whenever I see a fan of any school go “Our coach is not going *there*, they are waiting for a better offer, I chuckle a bit”. The last time Kansas poached us, Turner Gill, we probably would have beaten them that year too.

It is what it is. The Kansas’s, Vandy’s and Purdue’s of the world don’t need to be good to poach talent, they just need the money.

NCAA Football: South Dakota at Kansas
A bridge may have been burned.
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

What are the early impressions of Maurice Linguist? With were the overall initial impressions of the hire in Buffalo?

Linguist has impressed me from day one as a hire. Very young, very ambitious, I don’t expect him to be here too long if he is successful. Reminds me *a lot* of PJ Fleck in that regard. Good recruiter, good resume, very engaging. I know a lot of folks at Michigan were sorry to see him go so quickly, but given where Buffalo just was, I had no pity.

He checks a ton of boxes, and with the time constraint it’s hard to see anyone else out there who fit all of these.

  • He’s been at Buffalo before, so he knows the lay of the land hand has relationships with staff in the department.
  • He’s very well connected in the college football world, so assembling a good staff came rather quickly
  • He’s coached quite a bit in the P5 ranks, albeit as a position coach but still he understands both the game of football and the game of College athletics
  • He’s eager to prove himself and move up, ambition is key.
  • He’s a fantastic recruiter

Most of the Buffalo fan base feels pretty much the same. The mood shifted from dread to cautious optimism. How we play this week will either make us more optimistic or cautios.

Washington FT RB Jaret Patterson is guy who it appears will be very difficult to replace. Leopold usually found two RB’s to get a lot of carries and it appears Linguist, at least after one game, intends stay with a run-heavy offense. In your opinion, who will emerge as the lead back?

Actually the point of concern is not the guy behind the quarterback, but the five guys in front of thim. Statistically Kevin Marks is the equal of Patterson, he’s just been *stuck* behind Jaret. Marks was a 1,000 yard rusher in 2019, and got to 845 yards in seven games last season *while* splitting time with Patterson. The last favor Lance Leipold did for Buffalo was talking Marks out of the transfer portal (ironically before Leipold transferred himself)

The line, however, is dealing with three new faces after graduation and departures. The talent is there given they were mostly experienced backups in the system, but with a new center I worry about the chemistry.

NCAA Football: Camellia Bowl-Marshall vs Buffalo Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

I read where quite a few players hit the transfer portal after Leopold took the Kansas job – which players in that group will be missed the most?

Mike Novitsky, hands down. As I said above, it’s the offensive line that concerns me the most on this team. Our skill positions are fine, our Quarterback is a smart guy who can run the offience and limit mistakes.... But the line has been the strength of Leipolds teams.

OK, crystal ball time. Despite the kinship I might feel with Buffalo between Leipold and former Husker great Turner Gill coaching there, the boys are going to crack pads on Saturday – what’s your pick for the final score?

This is rough, because picking against your team is hard even though... Let’s face it, Nebraska is not at their best right now. But aside from playing maybe the worst FCS school in the nation we’ve not seen the Bulls do much of anything. I’m going to say emotion carries the day, UB get’s a slight early lead and frustration plays against Nebraska. Buffalo 27, Huskers 17.