PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — Pitt and Buffalo kick off the 2011 season at 6 p.m. Saturday night at Heinz Field, and both teams enter the season with a lot of unknowns.
It’s the debut of Pitt coach Todd Graham and the beginning of year two for Buffalo coach Jeff Quinn. To help get an idea of where Buffalo stands and how Pitt matches up, I got together with Tim Riordan from Bull Run to preview the game. Here’s what we discussed…
4-1-Zooo: UB was 2-10 last season. What are expectations like for Bulls fans for this, the second season under Jeff Quinn?
Bull Run: There are still a lot of concerns, especially considering the out of conference slate. I think most Bulls fans would take five wins this year with a smile. The offense should be a bit better this year, but our defensive secondary is completely green. I suspect that teams will just pass all over us. We just don’t have the offense, in my opinion, to keep up with big scoring games.
4-1-Zoo: The MAC is a league that fluctuates year to year. How does Buffalo fit in with the rest of the competition in the MAC East? Where do you see the Bulls finishing the season in the standings?
Bull Run: UB will finish towards the bottom of the conference, maybe three to five wins. If Chazz Anderson can deliver the Bulls have a crack at climbing out of the cellar to the middle of the pack.
4-1-Zoo: Pitt and Buffalo appear to run similar systems, a no-huddle approach. What should Pitt fans expect to see from the Bulls offensive & defensive units?
Bull Run: The Bulls have been focusing more on the run this year then the last. It seems Coach Quinn learned from the all or nothing approach he took last season. UB is still going to run the hurry up spread but they are going to try and ‘slow it down’ a bit with run. Anderson, if he can deliver, has some great wide outs who are both tough and have decent hands.
On defense, UB leads with a strong 3-4 front and a talented but very green secondary. The defensive line struggled against the run a bit, but there are some real pass-rushing threats. Khalil Mack is the lead linebacker and Steven Means on the other side is the best lineman we have.
4-1-Zoo: What are some players or facets of Buffalo’s game Pitt fans should be worried about?
Bull Run: Means and Mack on defense, if the secondary is remotely effective they will be able to do real damage to opposing offenses.
Chazz Anderson on offense. UB really had no consistency from any of the three quarterbacks last season. Plug in an experienced Big East Quarterback, albeit as a role player, and UB’s offense should be a little more threatening.
4-1-Zoo: As a Bulls fan, what worries you most about matching up against Pitt?
Bull Run: Our offensive line against your defensive line. It all starts up front and for the Bulls that’s where it ended. Last year there were depth and size issues, both have been addressed but it’s still an unproven unit that lost an all conference lineman to graduation.
Chris Gates | Area 4-1-Zoo Blog