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CFF Targets - These are not your grandfather's (Lance Leipold's) Buffalo Bulls
Once a CFF stronghold, the program from up-state New York has crumbled before our eyes. Yet, could a surprise Volume Pig emerge in 2023?
Toto, I’ve a feeling we're not in Buffalo anymore…
The University of Buffalo (UB) Bulls found their way onto the prestigious All-VolumePigs list late in 2020, as Lance Leipold, a well-renowned degenerate and CFF sicko, operated his football progrum in a manner that suggested he was playing fantasy football in real life. CFF managers everywhere took notice, and circled the program in double thick highlighter as one to monitor headed into 2021.
Unfortunately, later that spring, Leipold decided it was time to compete with the big boys in the Power Five (P5), and took the Kansas Jayhawks head coaching job.
Leipold had built a MAC juggernaut in his six seasons at UB (2015-2020), making a bowl game in each of his last three seasons, and finishing in the top 25 of the AP poll in 2020. He also built a CFF monster in RB Jaret Patterson, who amassed 19(!!) TDs in his 6-game 2020 season at Buffalo.
What’s even more remarkable about the Bulls during Leipold’s final two seasons is that back-up RB Kevin Marks also put up strong numbers behind Patterson. In 2020, Marks ran for 741 yards and 7 TDs in 6 games. In 2019, he went over 1000 yards as the RB2 and scored 8 TDs. Between Marks and Patterson, the Bulls ran the football with their top two RBs a staggering 539 times in 2019.
The identity and the blueprint of the program was clear. They built through the lines of scrimmage, and that offensive line asserted its dominance in 2019, and in particular, 2020. I know this from first-hand account…
You may recall that in 2020 there was a global pandemic occurring, putting the 2020 college football (CFB) season in jeopardy. Some leagues declared that they were cancelling the season. The MAC was one of them, in fact they were the first to do so.
But some conferences, like the BIG-12 and the SEC, trudged forward. Being the degenerate that I am, I managed to find a CFF league that was operational for the 2020 season, and in the draft of that league, I decided to take a high-risk/high-upside gamble on Jaret Patterson. It paid off as the MAC later announced it would be operational for the 2020 season, declaring a start date in early November.
While it was a long wait until I could finally field him on my roster, Patterson essentially singlehandedly won me that league (and I doubt I was alone), with a performance for the ages against Kent State on CFF championship weekend.
Patterson was virtually untouched for the entirety of November 2020, as the Bulls O-line operated at maximum potential, pushing more weight around than Dolph Lundgren in an 80s training montage. JP finished November with an absurd 47 fantasy points per game (FPG) average.
I’m genuinely curious if there’s ever been another player who has sustained a higher average over a one-month period in CFF history. If you know of one feel free to hit me up on twitter.
By now, many CFF managers know that this program is not the same CFF safe haven it used to be. I was among the many that got caught with our pants down drafting Marks in the second round of 2021 CFF drafts. Of course, I knew Leipold was long gone, but my thinking was that there was no possible way that the new staff would manage to mess up what Leipold had built in one offseason.
I was wrong, despite some early indications that the staff were going to feed Marks the ball, what they ended up doing was giving him carries between the 20s. Upon reaching the red zone they would often cycle in a different RB — Dylan McDuffie, who, in fairness to him, was actually running better than Marks that season. The result was a cannibalization of both players’ CFF value, until McDuffie started getting the lion share of carries later in the season. On top of that, the O-line simply wasn’t as dominant as before, and the overall rushing success was a shell of its former self.
The Bulls welcome new OC DJ Mangas to the fold in 2023
Special shoutout to Nate Marchese (@CFFNate), who is one of the best in the CFF industry, and has a series of articles dedicated to coaching changes by conference. It was his article on MAC coaching changes that reminded me that the Buffs replaced their OC this offseason.
Previous OC Shane Montgomery’s offences (2021-2022) were pretty balanced between run and pass. Prior to joining the Bulls, he was calling plays for the James Madison Dukes. Montgomery fed Dylan McDuffie the rock down the stretch of the 2021 season, but in 2022 no player saw more than 150 carries. Overall, this was not a run-first team anymore, and they employed a more pronounced RBBC approach than they used to under Leipold.
In the 2022 offseason, still scorned over my Kevin Marks selection a season prior, I listened to CFF players debate who would be the starting UB running back for the fall. My thinking at the time was: who cares? Like Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz, Leipold was the star of this show and without him, the CFF profile of the RB room is drastically different. The balanced offensive attack did create new CFF opportunity among the Bulls WRs, though.
My impression of the hiring of Mangas is that it is part of a continued effort from head coach Maurice Linguist to turn UB into a more pass-oriented program, something that was already in motion with the previous OC. In 2022, QB Cole Snyder attempted 461 passes, and two separate receivers saw 100 or more targets (okay, one was 99). Both of those WRs, Quian Williams (99 targets) and Justin Marshall (104 targets), departed the roster this offseason, and the third leading WR Jamari Gasset transferred late in 2022. Marshall averaged 15.5 FPG (1-ppr) and Williams averaged 12.63 FPG. With their departures, we have 200+ targets vacating the offence, and with Snyder returning at QB, I think it’s worthwhile to keep an eye on the WR room this offseason.
New OC Mangas served on the defensive side of the ball last season for UCF after operating as LSU’s pass game coordinator in 2021, and as Marchese’s article points out, the numbers are not pretty for Mangas.
That being said, in 2021 starting LSU WR Kayshon Boutte was having an incredible season before injury. Mangas was also an offensive analyst on LSU’s 2019 offence that saw WR Ja’Marr Chase win the Biletnikoff award and WR Justin Jefferson catch over 110 passes. Though, as only an analyst at the time, it’s hard to know how much credit Mangas deserves for that. Nonetheless, the offences Mangas has been around are no stranger to high level CFF WR play, and one has to wonder if there will be a player on the Buffs in 2023 that will benefit from Mangas’ approach. I plan to revisit this program in the summer in a follow up article where (hopefully) more information will be at our disposal.
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