Add Khalil Mack, UB’s standout linebacker, to the growing list of collegiate and NFL defenders who’ve switched to the Bane face mask, so-named because it loosely resembles the mask worn by one of Batman’s arch villains.
Justin Tuck of the New York Giants is credited with the debut model of the Bane, which featured eight narrowly spaced crossbars. The face mask already has evolved to include a series of vertical bars that makes it close to impossible for blockers to get a grasp on the device.
“I got it just because the offensive linemen, they like to grab the facemask from time to time, so I grabbed this one just because you can’t get your fingers in it,” Mack said. “It’s a little heavier but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Mack picked up on the trend while watching games on television.
“I was looking at other teams, like Notre Dame, and even like on the next level, the NFL players were playing with it on the line, the pass rushers,” Mack said. “I saw that it could really help.”
Mack did not participate in Saturday’s scrimmage and didn’t take part in 11-on-11 drills the last two days. Neither he nor head coach Jeff Quinn is saying why that is, although it appears nothing more than a precaution. He has taken part in other drills.
“He’s right on track with what he needs to do,” Quinn said. “Obviously at this point we need everybody out here and I think our other guys have benefited greatly. You got to be prepared for all scenarios.”
Execution was the order of the day as UB completed the first week of training camp Saturday with an hour-long scrimmage at UB Stadium.
Neither punts nor kickoffs factored in the trial run although three Patrick Clarke field goals accounted for nine of the 16 points produced by the offense. The lone TD came on a 6-yard Branden Oliver run.
Although the Bulls trotted out some of the new formations and personnel groupings they’ve shown throughout camp, the approach Saturday was rather vanilla, and by design.
“Let’s get after the fundamentals, I told them that,” Quinn said. “Our defense pursuing the ball, our offense finishing. Just aligning correctly and understand your assignments and get after it until the echo of the whistle. And not getting too fancy by out-scheming each other from that standpoint, just seeing good, old-fashion, sound fundamental football — blocking, tackling, throwing catching. And we saw that today.”
Alex Neutz reprised the great catch he made Friday by outdueling cornerback Cortney Lester yet again for a long 50-50 ball.
“You should expect to see a lot more of those,” said quarterback Joe Licata. “Because if he gets one-on-one coverage, he’s one of the best guys in the MAC, one of the best guys in the country. So I’m going to keep going to him until someone can stop him.”
Wideout Fred Lee came up with a couple of nice catches early in the scrimmage.