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BUFFALO'S LINGUIST: "EVERY SINGLE GOAL WE HAVE IS STILL IN FRONT OF US."
Coach Mo loves his team; Coastal Carolina preview; Leipold's hot stuff; a look back at Week 2 in the MAC.
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University at Buffalo head football coach Maurice Linguist (pictured above) pushed back in his weekly press conference Tuesday on the idea that Saturday’s last-second 37-31 loss to FCS Holy Cross was an existential, stare-into-the-abyss moment for his 0-2 team.
The response of the team has been why I am so encouraged. They came out to practice with an outstanding attitude today. I think the leaders—James Patterson, Damien Jackson,Gabe Wallace, Ron Cook, Cole Snyder, Justin Marshall, Q Williams—these guys got a lot of substance to them. The way they responded was what we would have wanted as a coaching staff.
Every single goal we have set for ourself is still in front of us. Every single goal can still be accomplished if we have enough resolve in ourselves to stick together, have the collective accountability to own whatever is on that film, and have a shared responsibility to make (ourselves) better.
Winning the MAC East. Getting ourselves to Detroit. Winning a MAC title. Getting ourselves to a bowl game and winning a bowl championship. We do that one day at a time. It’s the process and the journey. Literally taking one day, and saying I am 1-0 against this day. I think today we can say that is true about this football team.
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Rather, he presented the loss—in which Buffalo committed 10 penalties, many at the worst possible time, and surrendered 457 yards (including 46 on a game-ending Hail Mary) to a team that can carry only 60 scholarship athletes and has an academic index on par with the Ivy League—as a character-building opportunity. He was adamant—passionate, really—about his belief in the Bulls.
Really, for us, it’s all about what we learned from a tough situation, and how can we apply what we learned from a tough situation moving forward against our opponents.
I love this team. I think we have a great attitude and mindset, and we got to bring it all together.
You ever been knocked down? The first thing you got to do is get back up. It’s not coachspeak. We got knocked down. We got hit with a hard blow. We took a real gut punch, and it’s a real opportunity to get clarity on who you are and what’s real around you—to look yourself in the mirror and really have a lot of resolve to yourself. We believe in what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and who we’re doing it with.
We can talk through a play, we can talk through players, but I think good leaders are the ones who know their people the best. And I know those people in that locker room. I know we have a ton of resolve to ourselves, and I am looking forward to that resolve showing itself over the next week, and the 10 regular season games and on into the postseason.
With that, I’m not sure how much more there is to say about the loss to the Crusaders for now. It was a disappointment, for sure. But this weekend’s opponent—dangerous Sun Belt contenders Coastal Carolina (2-0)—isn’t setting out aromatherapy candles this Saturday for a therapy session at Brooks Stadium.
Looking For a Win on the Surf Turf
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The Chanticleers enter this weekend’s game with wins over Army and FCS Gardner-Webb. They still run the sickest version of the triple option in the country (sorry, Air Force). Unlike the Fighting Falcons, currently fourth in the country in total offense (567 yards per game), head coach Jamey Chadwell’s team throws the ball around—and quarterback Grayson McCall (pictured above) drives the unit with the dexterity of Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen.
“You look at them from an offensive standpoint, everyone points to the quarterback, Grayson McCall, I think he’s one of the top quarterbacks in the nation, one of the most efficient passers last year,” Linguist said of the 2021 Sun Belt Player of the Year (his ‘21 honors are too lengthy too recount).
McCall lead the country in passing yards per attempt (11.9) and passing efficiency (207.6), was second in D1 football in completion percentage (73%), and tied for 18th in touchdown passes (27).
“Their offense really runs through him,” Linguist contimued. “He can run the triple effectively. They whip the ball out on the perimeter and in their screen game. They got deep overlapping passes, and attack you in the over the top passing zones. A lot of their offense comes off of the run action andRPO looks, and they do a very good job of keeping the safeties disciplined with their eyes. We know we’ve got a big challenge ahead.”
So far, in 2022, however, this is not quite the Coastal Carolina offense of old. The team is 74th in the nation with 395.5 yards of total offense per game after its two wins. McCall remains as efficient as ever, but his average yards per game is down by 20, and the Chants are 59th in points per game (34.5)—a drop-off of a touchdown per contest.
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Replacing Talent: A Work in Progress
Last season’s leading rusher, Shermari Jones (1,040 yards), and receiver, Jaivon Heiligh (1,128 yards) were waived by the Cincinnati Bengals this summer. Big tight end Isaiah Likely (912 receiving yards, 12 touchdowns) is now with the Baltimore Ravens. Kameron Brown, the fourth receiving option, collected 605 yards through the air and five touchdowns—he was let go by Tampa Bay in August.
That’s a lot of production to replace. So far, Reese White (34 carries, 168 yards) and C.J. Beasley (26 carries, 114 yards) are getting their numbers called in the two-back speed option. White has two receiving touchdowns and one on the ground. Sam Pinckney, a Georgia State transfer, leads CCU with 156 receiving yards, while Tyson Mobley (pictured above) has grabbed two scores.
Matthew McDoom was the Sun Belt Special Teams Player of the Week. His 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown proved to be the difference in a 31-27 win over Gardner-Webb—a mediocre FCS squad.
“They outplayed us the whole game and if it wasn’t for our special teams (and McDoom’s) touchdown…that gave us a chance, the game would have turned out different,” Chadwell told Alan Blondin of MyHorryNews.com. “A lot of guys are down, a little upset and kind of embarrassed with the way we played tonight, but wins are hard to come by and you’ve got to celebrate them when they come.”
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Deceptively Dangerous on Defense
Defensively, Coastal is 102nd in the D1, allowing 419.5 yards per game (Buffalo is 114th, giving up a cool 450 per game). Linguist, however, sees talent in the opposition:
You look at the personnel of their team, and they’re long, they’re athletic, their d-line, they’re athletic and active—big nose tackle who does a really good job, two really good linebackers, a corner, number seven, has two interceptions on the year. They play him off-man press and he does a really good job. They bring pressure from multiple directions.
Let’s look at the players Coach Mo mentioned:
The big nose tackle is redshirt senior Jerrod Clark, a 6’4, 340-pound giant who had 33 tackles last season and anchored a defense that allowed the 21.6 points per game, 25th in the nation. He was named preseason second-team All-Sun Belt.
The linebackers are Josaiah Stewart (pictured above), the bandit (weak side) linebacker who recorded a school record 12.5 sacks as a freshman in 2021, and either Shane Bruce or J.T. Killen, who’ve combined for 27 tackles so far.
Number seven is cornerback Lance Boykin, who has nearly matched his three interceptions from 2021. The Chanticleers also have a pair of tough safeties, senior Tavyn Jackson and sophomore Tobias Fletcher, who each had six tackles against Gardner-Webb.
Image from myrtlebeachonline.com
And, of course, we’d be remiss not to mention the home field advantage of Brooks Stadium, home of the hot teal Surf Turf. Over 21,000 fans packed the house for the home opener against Army, a school record. CCU has beaten seven consecutive non-conference foes in the friendly confines, and boasts a 17-4 home record since 2019—the start of the Chadwell era.
This won’t be an easy bounce-back for the Bulls against a team that—despite its low ESPN FPI ranking—is still warming up. Make no mistake: the Chants are a formidable opponent.
That’s fine, according to Linguist.
“We’re looking forward to finding out a lot about ourselves in the next week with a very good opponent on the road,” he said “(Our) team is going to battle. They’ve got a lot of fight to them. We’ve never flinched. We know it’s going to take a lot to go out on the road and beat a really good team.”
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Because We Know Some People Can’t Quit Lance Leipold…
Image from kuathletics.com
He, apparently, can quit on whoever he wants! The belle of the coaching carousel cotillion thanks to his 2-0 start with Kansas this September (matching his season win total in 2021), Leipold (pictured above) is allegedly being courted by Nebraska. Leipold bounced from Buffalo in April 2021 and took eight players with him—but he’d certainly never leave mid-season to take another step up the ladder. Right?
Look Back at the MAC, Week 2
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Tough week for the Mid-American Conference. If the Sun Belt was the heady upstart this past weekend, the MAC was the grizzled old punching bag rolled into the ring to take a well-compensated beating. Now who’s staring into the abyss?
#7 Oklahoma 33, Kent State 3. The Golden Flashes (0-2) hung with the Sooners for a half, going into the locker room down just 7-3. Oklahoma came out and dropped 24 in the third quarter to wrap this one up.
#14 Michigan State 52, Akron 0. The worst part of this loss is what appears to be a serious leg injury to the Zips’ (1-1) exciting dual-threat quarterback D.J. Irons. Akron also averaged less than a yard per rush.
Penn State 46, Ohio 10. This loss vaulted the Nittany Lions to #22 in the AP Poll. The biggest controversy in this game was PSU running back Nick Singleton’s lame touchdown dance. Bobcats (1-1) quarterback Kurtis Rourke posted a 29.2 QBR. That’s not good!
South Alabama 38, Central Michigan 24. One of the less-heralded Sun Belt upsets of the week was the Jaguars’ road win over the Chippewas (0-2). Top wide receiver Dallas Dixon sustained what looks to be a serious shoulder injury. Lew Nichols III, last season’s NCAA-leading rusher, had 20 yards on 15 carries.
Western Michigan 37, Ball State 30. Finally, some legit MACtion! The Broncos (1-1, 1-0 in the Mid-American Conference) posted a 15-point fourth quarter, highlighted by Sean Tyler’s 75-yard go-ahead touchdown run. Tyler finished with 108 yards on 15 carries. WMU quarterback Jack Salopek threw for 230 yards and his first career touchdown pass. BSU (0-2, 0-1) was led by Carson Steele’s 147 rushing yards and quarterback John Paddock’s 291 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
Eastern Kentucky 59, Bowling Green 57. It took seven overtimes, but the Colonels finally put away the Falcons (0-2). They may also have signed BGSU head coach Scot Loeffler’s pink slip. Bowling Green ran for just 148 yards on 45 carries—and 64 of those yards came from quarterback Matt McDonald (he also threw five touchdown passes). Things aren’t getting better with Marshall, who received 85 votes for the AP Top 25 after upsetting then-#8 Notre Dame, coming to town.
Miami 31, Robert Morris 10. The RedHawks (1-1) got a breather between regional death matches with #9 Kentucky last week and Cincinnati, who earned 80 Top 25 votes, this week. Star quarterback Brett Gabbert did not play, and is out with an injury “for a while,” according to head coach Chuck Martin, as a result of punishment incurred in the loss to the Wildcats.
Toledo 55, UMass 10. Ah, poor UMass. The ghost ship of the FBS! The Rockets (2-0) led 45-7 after the third quarter, and quarterback Dequan Finn totaled 251 yards of offense with three touchdowns, two on the ground. Things get tougher against #3 Ohio State this weekend.
Tulsa 38, Northern Illinois 35. The Huskies (1-1) fell behind, 24-7, at halftime, and couldn’t quite battle back on the road. NIU quarterback Rocky Lombardi threw three touchdown passes and ran for another. Cole Tucker had 123 receiving yards and a touchdown for the defending MAC champs.
Louisiana 49, Eastern Michigan 21. The Eagles (1-1) led, 14-0, at halftime and were tied, 21-21, at the end of the third quarter. In the final period, the Cajuns really started ragin,’ posting four TDs, including a pair of passing scores from the unique QB tandem of Ben Wooldridge and Chandler Fields. “I told y’all we had two good quarterbacks,” Lousiana coach Michael Desormeaux said after the game. The EMU defense grudgingly agrees.
Here’s to a big win down South on Saturday (1 p.m., ESPN+). Horns up, everyone.
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