Count Bowling Green’s Dave Clawson as someone who has admired the work of Jeff Quinn with the University at Buffalo over the last month.
The Bulls (4-7, 3-4 Mid-American Conference) enter this afternoon’s game against the Falcons (7-4, 5-2) on a three-game winning streak and in search of their fifth victory, which would tie for the second most since becoming an FBS program in 1999. Considering the Bulls’ miserable start to the season, Clawson is impressed with UB’s resilience.
“I certainly give their coaching staff a lot of credit,” Clawson said. “To start off the season the way they did and lose six consecutive games and to find a way to win three straight is good coaching. To get your team 1-7 and to have them keep working and keep improving and then win three games late in the year I think speaks a lot of their coaching staff, it speaks a lot of their players. They kept working, they kept getting better and they’re a very good football team.”
Indeed, the Bulls have made strides with victories over Miami (Ohio), Western Michigan and Massachusetts, and on Wednesday the school announced it was rewarding Quinn - who has averaged three wins a season in three years - with a three-year contract extension which runs through the 2017 season.
“When the season began I really thought the two teams in our conference that could really surprise people were Kent and Buffalo,” said Clawson, a native of Youngstown who was an assistant coach at UB in 1990 and ‘91. “Buffalo had a lot of players back from a year ago and Buffalo is a much better team than their record. If you look at their record you can say they played an absolutely brutal schedule. I think they had the toughest schedule in the conference. ... This is certainly a good football team.”
So is Bowling Green, which rode a six-game winning streak until falling to Kent State last week, 31-24, giving the No. 23-ranked Golden Flashes the East Division championship. Ironically, considering both coaches’ offensive backgrounds, both teams rely heavily on defense.
Bulls defensive coordinator Lou Tepper utilizes elements of the 46 Zone that blitzes from all angles.
“As a defensive end or a defensive lineman there’s nothing more than you could ask for than to know it’s going to be a pass,” UB defensive end Colby Way said. “Especially with having Khalil [Mack] and Steve [Means] on the outside that’s putting two guys on them and usually leaves me one-on-one with someone. It just becomes a great opportunity and it’s a blast. It really is.”
UB tied a school record with eight sacks last week at UMass, which has Clawson concerned.
“Their defensive scheme is very difficult to prepare for in one week,” Clawson said. “They run a lot of what we call Double Eagle type stuff that kind of became popular in the mid-’80s with Buddy Ryan in Chicago.
UB ranks second behind Bowling Green in the MAC in total defense which could bring new meaning to this afternoon’s self-proclaimed Black Friday Bash. Led by defensive tackle Chris Jones, who paces the MAC in sacks with 11.5, the Falcons held opponents to just 47 points during their six-game streak which included a 24-0 shutout over UMass.
Meanwhile, UB continues to have injury problems on offense. Tailbacks Bo Oliver (ankle) and Devin Campbell (back) were limited in practice this week and junior Brandon Murie (Iroquois), who led the team with 94 yards on the ground and a TD, could get the nod. Of course the Bulls seem to have limitless depth at the position and senior Rashad Jean, a former walk-on and converted defensive lineman, is the latest example. The 6-foot, 246-pound Jean rushed 17 times for 73 yards against the Minutemen last week.