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UB Preview: Young offensive line will have to mesh in a hurry


(This is the seventh of eight position previews that will run this week. The full Buffalo News college football preview runs in Sunday's paper.)

Overview: The Bulls lost three starters from last year and have graduated six standout veterans over the past two years. Here’s another unit where Lance Leipold tried to bolster young talent by recruiting transfers. Next year, the O-line should be really good. Can Leipold and line coach Daryl Agpalsa piece together a functional, coordinated unit this year? Hmmm.

Projected starter: LT Roubbens Joseph, LG Brandon Manosalvas, C James O’Hagan, RG David Goldsby, RT Tyler O’Henly.

Key backups: G Tomas Jack-Kurdyla, G-C Brad Rowland, G Connor Morehart, T Evin Ksiezarczyk, G-T Albert McCoy, G-C Trey Bowman.

Strengths: The returning starters are Manosalvas, a junior, and O’Hagan, a sophomore and a former star high school wrestler. They’re solid. Joseph and O’Henly are set at the tackle spots. Joseph, a senior in his second year in the program, is in better shape and better health this year. Is he a quality MAC left tackle? We'll see. The 6-foot-7 O’Henly is a long athlete, but he only has one career start.

Questions: It looks like Goldsby has an edge on Jack-Kurdyla for the other starting guard spot. Goldsby is a junior transfer from California. Jack-Kurdyla is just a true freshman but has had a good camp. Either Goldsby or senior Albert McCoy likely will be the third tackle. The 6-6 Ksiezarczyk, a red-shirt freshman from West Seneca, has been the second-team LT and done well enough that he could see time this year, too, if he keeps improving. The coaches love his length.

2015 Stats: The Bulls allowed only 16 sacks each of the past two years, top-four in the MAC both years. A lot of that was due to Joe Licata’s ability to get rid of the ball.

Analytics: By News estimation, UB plays five of the top six front-sevens in the MAC this year. . . . The Bulls averaged 3.79 yards a carry on first down against MAC foes last year. Winning college teams do better.

Quotable: “We lost some really good football players, but I believe through recruiting we have more competition this year,” Agpalsa said. “Guys are pushing hard for time, and I think we need that.”

Did you know? Junior guard Jacob Byron is a Marine Corps veteran who did a tour of duty in Afghanistan. He’s from Marion, just east of Rochester.

Looking ahead: Two veteran transfers sitting out this year wait in the wings. LT Jacquis Webb is a Rochester native who transferred from Maryland. He’s 6-6, 344. LG Paul Nosworthy, 6-4 and 270, played last year at Grambling. Both have looked very good in practice. Freshman Kayode Awosika is a 6-5 Minnesotan with a big frame.

Next: Special teams.

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UB Preview: Jordan Johnson should add to Bulls RB tradition

UB Preview: Tyree Jackson brings the excitement to Bulls offense

UB Preview: Boise Ross leads still-young secondary unit

UB Preview: Bulls hope Berry-Franklin combo makes LBs stronger

UB Preview: Defensive line is deeper than ever

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