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Safety Byrom gets the call, fills in well at outside linebacker

BOSTON -- Turner Gill recently spoke about how much he values the presence and leadership of Kareem Byrom. On Saturday, the junior not only proved his worth, but showed some versatility.

The 5-foot-10, 200-pound Byrom moved from strong safety to outside linebacker in place of the injured Ramon Guzman in the University at Buffalo's 41-0 loss at Boston College. Byrom finished with eight tackles, including a sack.

"He did a great job there," Gill said. "He did a fantastic job as far as being a physical player. There were probably times when he didn't know what he was doing, but he was in there to make some plays for us."

Junior Todd Robertson (Sweet Home) is listed as Guzman's backup but Gill felt Byrom would be more effective playing linebacker. Robertson played on special teams and received some time at linebacker late in the game. Junior Jesse Imes started at strong safety and rotated with true freshman Chris Storr.

"[Byrom] was our next best player [at linebacker]," Gill said. "You play your best players and put them on the football field."

Byrom, of New Brunswick, N.J., was recruited to UB as a cornerback but was moved to safety, where he started 10 games last season as a sophomore.

"I never played linebacker," he said. "It's way more physical down in the trenches. If I'm going to be a leader, if I'm going to be a captain, I have to go out there and do whatever the coaches tell me to do. If they want me to play D-line, I'll play D-line."

Guzman sat out the game with a knee injury and it's unclear if he'll be ready for next Saturday's game against Kent State.

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For the first time in two games, penalties weren't a factor in a UB loss. The Bulls were nailed just twice for 30 yards. Both were were personal foul calls. Over the previous two games, the Bulls were penalized 26 times for 219 yards, including five dead ball fouls last week against Ohio University.

Gill put the responsibility of cleaning up the penalties on his coaching staff in practice this week.

"We watched the guys a lot more closely when we were in our team work [drills]," Gill said. "It did pay off and we had fewer penalties. You get what you emphasize, so it was a better situation for us."

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The Bulls may be struggling on the field, but they landed a verbal commitment from one of the top dual threat quarterbacks in the nation in Chris Johnson from Paterson, N.J.

The 6-foot-2, 202-pound Johnson ,from John F. Kennedy High, is rated the 22nd dual threat quarterback by Rivals.com and the 17th rated QB overall in New Jersey. He was being recruited by nearly all of the teams in the Big East, and was offered scholarships to Rutgers, Temple and Bowling Green.

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UB assistant men's basketball coach Jim Kwitchoff was a three-year letterman at Boston College from 1986-88 as an offensive lineman. . . . The game marked the second time UB has faced an ACC opponent. Buffalo traveled to Virginia in 1999, its first year back in Division I-A. . . . UB's weekend in New England was a homecoming for several players including Chad Upshaw, Jamey Richard, Ray Norell and Anel Montanez, who are all from Connecticut, and New Hampshire native Chris Scharon. . . . Upshaw extended his reception streak to 18 games. With 82 career receptions, Upshaw is 13 shy of the school record for tight ends of 95 by Chad Bartoszek. . . . Redshirt freshman Dane Robinson recorded the first sack of his career in the first quarter. . . . Redshirt freshman Kendric Hawkins recorded his second interception of the season in the second quarter. His first was at Auburn. . . . Freshman Sherrod Lott had a career-best eight tackles, including five solos. . . . Tailback James Starks (Niagara Falls) matched his career high with six receptions. . . . Boston College ran 74 plays to UB's 44. . . . Mid-American Conference referees called the game, while ACC officials ran instant replay.

e-mail: rmckissic@buffnews.com1

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