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Leipold sees benefit to early bye; battle at OLB rages

An unusually early bye week probably will be helpful timing for a young University at Buffalo football team.

The Bulls will have at least 11 new starters on the field and have a dozen junior college additions they’re trying to work into their system.

UB will have a week off after its Sept. 2 season opener against Albany. The Bulls’ second game is at Nevada on Sept. 17.

UB coach Lance Leipold said he and athletic director Allen Greene reviewed the pros and cons of the early bye.

“When I first looked at it and I talked with Allen Greene and we looked at other options, did we have any flexibility of moving?” Leipold said. “It’s not the greatest time after just one game.”

“But as well looked and talked about our newcomers, we really get another week of development after Game One,” Leipold said. “So it's almost an extended camp for some of those guys. If anybody's banged up in camp, we get an extra week. But once you get past that week, then of course it's a pretty long grind. With those 12 newcomers that showed up, and some of those are going to be counted on, I think it worked out for a reason.”

War Linebackers: The training camp battle for playing time between Jarrett Franklin and Brandon Berry raged on in Wednesday’s practice at UB Stadium. Franklin, who sat out last season, a standout starter in 2014. Berry was the No. 2 tackler last season and a second-team all-conference pick. The primary position for both is the outside linebacker spot on the short side of the field, called the boundary linebacker. Franklin is starting this summer. Both are going to see plenty of snaps.

Franklin met Jordan Johnson in the hole for a run stuff during a ground-oriented 11-on-11 session. Then Franklin crashed into the backfield to stuff Johnson again in goal-line work. Not to be outdone, Berry stuffed Zach Nicholas up the middle then crashed inside to stop Johnson on a third-down run from the 3.

Punt returns: It’s a wide-open battle for the punt-return duties, which were held last season by sure-handed Collin Lisa. Jamarl Eiland, Emmanuel Reed, Jerin Scroggins, Cameron Lewis and Craig Hardgers all were back fielding punts Wednesday.

Highlights: Quarterback Tyree Jackson looked good in 11-on-11 work. He waited patiently for Mikel DeMonte to break wide open due to a coverage bust on a long bomb. Then he hit No. 2 RB Johnathan Hawkins in perfect stride for a 20-yard gainer out of the backfield. In goal-line work, Jackson had TD strikes to tight ends Mason Schreck and Tyler Mabry, then Jackson barreled over the goal line on a 3-yard run. No 225-pound linebacker would have stopped him. . . . Sophomore cornerback Tatum Slack broke up an end zone pass for Marcus McGill on a good throw by Jackson. Slack, a Californian, also had a pickoff in 7-on-7 work. . . . Drew Anderson’s best throw was a back-shoulder TD pass to freshman Antonio Nunn in goal-line work. Anderson also eluded a blitz and hit freshman Tito Overton on the move for a TD. . . . Safety Ryan Williamson intercepted a Jackson pass to the deep middle. . . . Freshman outside linebacker Matt Otwinowski, from Indiana, continues to look good. He saw some snaps with the second team.

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