After what can only be charitably called a disappointing 2016 season, the University of Buffalo Bulls enter the 2017 NCAA football season with a reason for optimism, both for this coming fall’s return to action, and a number of falls to come.

In the immediacy, job one is improving on an offense that finished dead last in the Mid-American Conference last season in points scored. The solution for that will be the growth of sophomore quarterback Tyree Jackson. Physically he’s done all the growing that needs to happen, standing an imposing 6-foot-7, 245 pounds. But as a quarterback he’s still on the upward arc of his maturity, which has been helped greatly by the experience he gained last season with nine starts as a freshman.

As Jackson goes, so will this offense. And for head coach Lance Leipold that is a very good thing. Jackson is on the verge of a breakthrough at quarterback and could become one of the better signal callers in the conference.

On the other side of the football the Bulls defense returns eight starters from last year’s team. Based on performance – 124th in the nation in stopping the run – that many returners may not feel like a positive. But the talent is there, and so is the speed that Leipold has emphasized so heavily in his recruiting. So once the experience also arrives, which it should in steady doses this upcoming season, Bulls fans will be rewarded for their patience.

That patience will see even further fruits for the 2018 season and beyond, with the recent verbal commitment to the Bulls made by Elmira standout tackle Dan Fedor. Listed at 6-foot-7, 285 pounds by ESPN, Fedor would bring instant size and athleticism to an offensive line that will be reliant on a number of transfers for this coming season.

Also opening the door to brighter days ahead for Bulls football is the recent approval by the state for an $18 million dollar indoor football field house. Right now UB is the only MAC school without such a facility for its program.

The facility will be 90,000 square feet and house a football field and small track. It will aid significantly in landing recruits, and allow better and more specialized practice when the weather turns foul, as it often does during the winter in Buffalo.

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