2009 Buffalo Bulls Football: 10 Key Players To a MAC Title Repeat
The Defending MAC Champs may have lost their four year starting QB in Drew Willy but the Bulls still will be competitive because of these guys.
The Bulls return nine starters on defense and six on offense. The Bulls will also have the benefit of having Pittsburgh at home and a relatively weak MAC East.
The Bulls may be the preseason favorites to win the MAC East. However, without the production of these 10 players, the Bulls may just fall short of a second MAC Title.
The 6'2" sophomore linebacker will be an integral part of a strong veteran defense that showed up in the MAC title game, forcing five Ball State turnovers.
Pettigrew earned his starting spot against Missouri last year as a true freshman. Last year Pettigrew had 42 tackles, but with a young and experienced linebacker corps, expect Pettigrew to improve upon that number.
This 202 pound junior linebacker will be the most prevalent of the Bulls' front seven this season.
Winters led the Bulls last year with 125 tackles and was named Third Team All-MAC.
Winters also forced four fumbles, including one in the International Bowl versus UCONN.
This 6'6", 314 pound senior offensive lineman will be the anchor of the Bulls' line.
He is one of two starters returning from 2008 and will be crucial to the success of the Bulls' strong running game.
West, also will be needed to protect the blindside of the Bulls' new quarterback, Zach Maynard.
The other returning lineman, Bittner will be a very physical lineman who should help open up holes for James Starks.
Bittner, a 6'4", 301 pound redshirt junior, has started 26 straight games on the line for the Bulls and will look to help stabilize the Bulls' offensive line.
With the loss of senior running back James Starks, the 5'11" 224 pound junior will need to become a premier back.
Thermilus will need to take pressure off of first year quarterback Zach Maynard.
Thermilus will be helped by senior Mario Henry, but it still will be a great test run for 2011.
The 223 pound junior linebacker had 73 tackles last season and is poised to improve those numbers.
A transfer from Iowa Wesleyan, Akobundu excelled in his first FBS season.
He had eight tackles and a fumble recovery in the Bulls' 42-24 victory over Ball State in the MAC title game.
Newton, a physical 200 pound senior safety, will be the heart and soul of this Bulls defense.
Newton had 112 tackles and two fumble recoveries last year, including a 92-yard touchdown return against Ball State.
Newton had nine interceptions in his first two seasons, but only had one a year ago. Newton was named Second Team All-MAC last season, and is a premier safety in the MAC.
The 6'0", 193 pound junior safety will be another crucial part of a experienced secondary for the Bulls.
Shannon was named First Team All-MAC in both of his seasons at Buffalo.
Shannon had 121 tackles last season, and will be expected to bring his physicality and athleticism to the table once again for the Bulls.
Maynard is the biggest question mark on this year's Bulls squad.
The sophomore quarterback saw action in seven of the Bulls' last eight games but never really was asked to run the offense.
Maynard went 1-3 in those seven games and ran for 56 yards on eight rushes, including a 41-yard scamper on the Bulls' nationally televised Election Day game against Miami (OH).
Maynard won the job in spring practices and with his athleticism should become a solid dual threat quarterback in the MAC.
This is probably the best receiver that nobody has heard of.
Roosevelt is a strong 6'0" senior wide receiver who had a breakout season last year.
Roosevelt set school records in receptions (104), yards (1,402), and touchdowns (13). Roosevelt is also a speedy kick and punt returner who was originally recruited as a quarterback.
Roosevelt also was eighth in the nation in receiving yards per game (100.1) and second in the MAC in receptions per game (7.4).
Roosevelt was named First Team All-MAC and is one of 37 who was named to the Biletnikoff Watch List for best wide receiver in the nation.