For all of Joe Licata's longterm success at the helm of the Buffalo offense, the only reason more UB records won't fall this year is that Licata's rushing counterpart in the backfield, Anthone Taylor, spent his early career behind now-NFLer Branden Oliver.
Oliver's successes set a new bar in the Buffalo books, but Taylor's first season as UB's #1 quickly established the Ohio native as a worthy successor. In just eleven games in 2014, Taylor rushed for 1,403 yards on 282 carries. But for a cancelled regular season game, Oliver's single season records mightn't have stood for even a full calendar year.
Taylor isn't as shifty as Oliver, but has more prototypical size, and effectively stepped into the same role as the departed rusher with the same blend of between-the-tackles power, speed to the outside, and stamina through 30-plus carries late in games. Taylor ran for 200 yards thrice last season alone after past running backs had only managed the feat six times since Buffalo joined the MAC.
Buffalo in 2015 needs to replace three starting offensive linemen but the new group will hit the season opened as one of the biggest groups in the country. Like his predecessor, Taylor starts his senior season on the Doak Walker Award watchlist and at nearly 5.0 yards per carry on his career and stands a good chance at finishing as the top per-touch runner in Buffalo's D-1 history.
Of everyone on the roster, Taylor is likely the least affected by the coaching change from Jeff Quinn (to Alex Wood) to Lance Leipold. Leipold's offenses at Wisconsin-Whitewater ran the ball at much the same rate as Jeff Quinn, and running backs coach Matt Simon remained in Amherst throughout the transition. It's also unlikely that the senior loses too many carries to Jordan Johnson behind him, though the backup will likely see 5-10 change of pace carries a week.
Without spoiling the rankings too much, Taylor isn't the top or even the second-highest ranking back on this list, and that's probably fair based on the 2014 resumes. But in the 2014 All-MAC Second Teamer Buffalo has a power back with speed to the outside (I wish I could find a clip of his 41-yard touchdown against Baylor in) who fits into the offense, should challenge for 1,500 yards in his senior year, and could join Oliver and James Starks in the NFL by this time in 2016.