The offense had its moments, but the defense shined once again for the University at Buffalo during a scrimmage Thursday evening at UB Stadium.
The offense managed just one score off a defense that should once again hover near the top of the Mid-American Conference.
“As a head coach you’re excited when your defense comes up and makes big plays,” Quinn said. “They took the ball away, which is a big emphasis, and I thought our pursuit was right on spot. I thought our guys came out with good energy.”
The leader, as has been the case all summer, was senior linebacker Khalil Mack.
“His level of play exceeded the situation and obviously being very disruptive was the reason why were able to hold our offense out of the end zone,” Quinn said. “No. 46 is always disruptive.”
Quinn was also impressed with the play of senior safety Adam Redden (St. Francis), the converted wideout who earned more playing time a year ago due to the rash of injuries in the secondary. He had an interception Thursday.
“Adam is a young man who has really grown in our program and he’s taken a lot more responsibility toward his leadership role and he comes out to play,” Quinn said.
Junior safety Derek Brim (Canisius) also had an interception, but came down hard and grabbed his right knee. The injury didn’t appear serious. However, he didn’t return.
Offensively, the line has been up and down during training camp – in large part due to injuries – but Quinn saw some improvement Thursday.
“There’s a lot on their plate. We’ve had to shuffle guys in and out, and we haven’t been able to keep a cohesive group over any extended period of time,” Quinn said. “It’s nice to see some guys stepping in and stepping up.”
Like 6-foot-4, 307-pound true freshman Brandon Manosalvas, a left guard, from Paramus, N.J. who saw some time with the first team and freed up senior tailback Branden Oliver with a block for a 15-yard gain. Sophomore tackle Robert Blodgett, who served on the scout team a year ago, also saw time with the first team. Jasen Carlson (Southwestern), who started 12 games at left guard last season, played center as Trevor Sales recovers from a knee injury.
The scrimmage ended with Patrick Clarke attempting a 45-yard field goal with the entire team standing around him yelling and waving their arms. The junior calmly sent the kick through the middle of the uprights.
“It was a good evening,” Quinn said.
The entire team went to hear President Obama speak Thursday at Alumni Arena and all were thrilled when he mentioned the team.
“It was pretty sweet to hear the President of the United States say, ‘Go Bulls,’ ’’ sophomore quarterback Joe Licata said. “That was cool to me when he said, ‘Let’s go Buffalo.’
“It was awesome,” Licata said. “I don’t know the next time I’m going to see a sitting president so that was pretty cool.”
Sophomore Kendall Patterson, recruited by Quinn three years ago to play nose guard, has moved to fullback and will back up senior Boomer Brock (Iroquois).
“Last year when we lost Boomer I wasn’t able to replace him,” Quinn said. “Kendall played fullback in high school. These guys come to us and they play darn near two, three, four, five positions through their career. He wanted to get on the field and that was the best opportunity for him.”
The 6-foot, 260-pound Patterson had offers from schools in the Big Ten, ACC and the Big East out of DeMatha Catholic in Maryland.
Junior wideout Cordero Dixon made two impressive receptions – including a 30-yarder down the left sideline from Licata. … Wide receiver Fred Lee (ankle) was in full pads but didn’t play in the scrimmage. Lee hit the garbage can leading back to the locker room in frustration and later returned in his practice jersey and shorts.