Discover more from UB In 5
DEVASTATED BY BOWLING GREEN
UB's defense shellacked in a shocking loss, crushing the Bulls' hopes at a MAC East title
Image from UBBulls.com
Eleven years ago, a buddy and I ran a Buffalo sports blog. I stumbled onto it recently and cringed at my dusty writeup of UB’s 42-0 home loss to Temple in 2010. I closed the post with this scorching take:
There is still time to improve. Head coach Jeff Quinn is a proven winner who will make Buffalo a better team in the months and years to come. But today - today, the Bulls should be ashamed.
My confidence in Jeff Quinn (20-36 as UB’s coach from 2010-2014, currently Notre Dame’s o-line coach) aged very poorly! My priggish tone is also a little embarrassing a decade after the fact.
I don’t think the entire Bulls’ team should be ashamed after yesterday shocking 56-44 home loss to Bowling Green—junior RB Dylan McDuffie and QB Matt Myers, in particular, and the rest of the offensive unit, in general, can hold their heads high today—but the entire defensive operation needs to take a hard look in the mirror.
Without hyperbole, Buffalo’s defensive performance Saturday was the worst I have ever seen.
It’s not just that the Buffalo defense gave up a lot of points (56 points to a Falcons squad that entered the game averaging less than 20 points per contest).
It’s not just that the Bulls surrendered serious acreage (484 yards) to a team averaging 314.9 yards per game.
It’s not just that UB allowed 221 rushing yards to Bowling Green, the third-worst ground attack in FBS.
All of those things are bad, but hey, sometimes you end up in one of those freaky shootouts. College football can be a roller coaster.
No, this was the worst defensive performance I’ve seen because the defense looked absolutely unprepared. From Bowling Green’s first offensive series of the game, to the Falcons’ smug gamesmanship on their final score, the Bulls, defensively, were a mess.
Worse, there were times they barely looked like they cared.
It’s because BGSU TE Christian Sims turned a 3rd-and-16 into a 81-yard touchdown catch and run by steamrolling through UB safety E.J. Brown’s attempt at a tackle.
It’s because the defensive response to the first sign of life from the Buffalo offense, a 4:26 drive late in the second quarter to cut the score to 21-10 on a Mike Washington TD run, was allowing a two-play, 85-yard Bowling Green scoring drive completed by a 64-yard TD pass to a mystifyingly wide open Tyrone Broden.
It’s because, after whittling the Falcons’ lead to five heading into the fourth quarter, the Bulls allowed four BGSU touchdowns: a 30-yard Broden catch, a 77-yard Terion Stewart run, another 20-yard Stewart scamper, and a humiliating, rub-it-in-your-face McDonald stroll on a fake kneel-down from the UB 47.
There were positives in this debacle. The offense put up 499 yards, including 222 on the ground, and recorded 36 first downs. Buffalo held the ball for over 38 minutes. With even a mediocre defensive showing, that’s a two-score win.
I’m proud of the way McDuffie played, running for 166 yards on 34 tough carries, averaging nearly five yards per tote and punching in two TDs. He was playing without a net, with RB Kevin Marks, Jr. out for another week, and Ron Cook (12 carries, 33 yards) ineffective.
Down 18 points in the third quarter, he could’ve quit. He didn’t.
I’m proud of Myers, stepping in cold for an injured Kyle Vantrease and leading the team back from the precipice of a 28-10 deficit. Myers had a bad INT that led a Falcons TD, yes—and he had a handful of throws that were wildly off-target—but he completed 12 passes for 239 yards and a touchdown, and ran for another two.
After cutting the Bowling Green lead to five points four times in the second half only to see the defense roll over each time, he could’ve quit. He didn’t.
I’m proud of WR Quian Williams, who caught five passes for 87 yards, despite borderline dirty coverage from BGSU CG Devon Taylor. Williams drew Taylor into three pass interference calls and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
He could’ve quit when Vantrease got hurt, or when Taylor picked off Myers, or when the refs refused to call the many other times Taylor worked him over semi-legally, including an uncalled slap to his helmet while Williams was on his back. He didn’t.
The o-line could’ve quit. WR Dominic Johnson could’ve quit. TE Tyler Stephens could’ve quit. They didn’t.
Yes, the Bulls’ defense played without edge rushers Taylor Riggins and Max Michel. That hurts.
Regardless—the offensive performance by Bowling Green was without precedent this season. The Falcons didn’t put up these kinds of numbers against FCS Murray State. They didn’t hang these stats on bad Akron or South Alabama teams, games BGSU lost.
I don’t know how you change this. There’ve been complaints about the secondary’s tendency to get smoked throughout the season. There’ve been consistent concerns about chunk runs and explosive plays. All of these issues blew up on the defense Saturday, and this time there was no reprieve, no answers. How do you fix that in a week?
After the 45-10 win over Akron last week, head coach Maurice Linguist was quick to give credit to defensive coordinator Joe Cauthen—and himself—for erasing the Zips.
After this humiliating defeat, Linguist—the one coach who didn’t get ejected on Saturday—sounded lost.
From The Buffalo News:
We’ve got to look at ourselves, at the Xs and Os, and ask ourselves what we’re doing, schematically. There’s opportunities we had on the football field, that we were able to get some stops and get some momentum going back on offense, and a big play occurred. Or we didn’t get the stop that we needed and they’d put the points back on the scoreboard. It always felt like we never got back in reach, the way I thought we would be able to. …
Any time you give up the amount of points we gave up, there is nothing you don’t look at. This, certainly, is not to our standard. I’m not going to be a prisoner of the moment and make any holistic, big-picture decisions right now. But we’ve got to look at everything. Giving up that amount of points and yards is not going to put us in position to come down the stretch. We’ve got to look at it all.
Here’s the deal: the Bulls are now 4-5 overall, and 2-3 in Mid-American Conference play. In order to win the MAC East, currently led by 3-1 Kent State and Miami (Ohio), Buffalo likely needs to win its final three games against the division co-leading RedHawks, MAC West leader Northern Illinois, and Central Michigan.
Miami would also need to lose another game. Kent State would need to lose three, since the Golden Flashes beat UB head-to-head.
Bowl eligibility is more plausible. UB needs two wins to qualify for postseason play. Miami, NIU, and CMU are ranked 94th, 97th, and 98th in ESPN’s Football Power Index. It’s not impossible.
Would you bet on it? Right now, I wouldn’t. Not with this defense.