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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

Likes and Dislikes

Five and Five: Buffalo

What are five things I like about Buffalo in 2010? What about five things I don’t? This list has all the answers.

Likes

1. A good secondary. Safety Davonte Shannon is one of the best defensive backs in the MAC, and cornerbacks Josh Thomas and Dominic Cook bring plenty of experience to the table.

2. More experience at linebacker. Four players with starting experience return in 2010, led by Justin Winters, a former all-MAC selection.

3. A number of options at running back. Ike Nduka was a revelation last fall, and Brandon Thermilus played well in Nduka’s stead when the senior missed the final four games of 2009 due to injury.

4. Four starters return on the offensive line. No player on the roster brings more career starts to the table in 2010 than guard Peter Bittner, a second-team all-conference pick a year ago.

5. New coach Jeff Quinn. No, he’s not Turner Gill. But Quinn has 27 years of college coaching experience, much of that under current Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly.

Dislikes

1. A weak defensive line. Two starters return, including sophomore end Stephen Means, but finding new contributors will be key.

2. The passing game was decimated by graduation. Gone are three all-conference pass-catchers, including players ranked first and third on the school’s all-time receptions list.

3. Buffalo’s history. It has no bearing on what happens in 2010, I know. Yet when you look at how this program has fared — outside the last three seasons — in the F.B.S., it is noteworthy.

4. Issues at quarterback. Zach Maynard’s departure leaves the position in question. Jerry Davis is the favorite to take over under center, but the sophomore is inexperienced.

5. No more Gill. Say what you will — some U.B. fans have short memories, it seems — but he is the only coach to have led the Bulls to success on the F.B.S. level.

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