How did Lou Tepper spend his 68th birthday? He watched a Baylor offense Texas two-step through his University at Buffalo defense to the tune of 70 points and a mind-blowing 781 yards of total offense.
“My mother told me they’d be days like this,” Tepper said on Tuesday.
But mother never had to come up with schemes to foil teams like Baylor.
The Bulls’ first two opponents proved to be overwhelming. Ohio State is the No. 2 ranked team in the country while Baylor’s offense is so incontrollable it makes Urban Meyer’s system look like three yards and a cloud of dust.
The Bulls were expected to start the season 0-2 but last week’s 57-point defeat at Baylor was troubling considering the belief that 50-point blowouts, even to one the country’s top teams, ended with the Jim Hofher era.
The Bulls rank last nationally in scoring defense (55.0 ppg.), next to last in total defense (620.5 ypg.), 118th against the run (295.9 ypg) and 115th against the pass (326.0 ypg). UB allowed four scoring plays covering 61, 83, 33 and 53 yards, and the 70 points and 781 yards yielded are FBS school records.
“What happened Saturday was unexpected,” said Tepper, UB defensive coordinator. “We know that they are extremely skilled, they have great speed and they’ll be the best team we’ll face and the best team many teams will face offensively.”
So Tepper did something he’s done only a handful of times during his lengthy career: He didn’t let the players see the tape.
“We can’t let Baylor beat us twice, we have to move forward,” Tepper said.
Saturday’s 3:30 p.m., home opener at UB Stadium against FCS Stony Brook (1-0) will help in determining whether the Bulls’ porous defense can rebound from the first two weeks.
“We have to make sure they understand their assignments, understand and provide great effort in their pursuit to the football,” UB coach Jeff Quinn said. “Creating turnovers, being great tacklers, disengaging off blocks, keying all their reads and do it with great fundamentals.”
A lot of elements came into play against the Bulls the first two games, talent being the first. Baylor’s last four recruiting classes by Rivals.com were 31st, 45th, 46th and 39th, while Ohio State was 2nd, 4th, 11th and 25th. UB has ranked 122nd, 120th, 117th and 115th.
“They’re really good and they have very good personnel and their schemes are sound,” Quinn said. “You can tell that their kids play with confidence.”
UB’s base 3-4 has been distinctive for having some adaptable players at linebacker and the secondary, efficient in dropping into coverage and also helping against the run. That allows Tepper to keep the same group — even when they shift to a 3-3 — on the field regardless of what opposition offenses bring to the line. However, the defense could not keep pace with either Ohio State or Baylor who have superior athletes.
Baylor, with its all-consuming speed, was simply a bad matchup for Buffalo more so than the Buckeyes. The Bears have an outstanding and unique scheme with athletes, Tepper said, who are more skilled at wide receiver and tailback than Ohio State.
While Baylor’s Bryce Petty isn’t the dual threat of Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller, his 338 yards passing on Saturday proves he’s an exceptional passer.
The Bears offensive line was the biggest surprise to Tepper because spread teams are generally play a finesse style.
“They knocked us off the ball,” Tepper said. “That’s the unusual thing Baylor brings. There’s a lot of teams that spread it out like Mouse Davis, who spreads it out and throws it around, but they can’t run the ball like Baylor.”
The Bulls are chalking it up to a learning, albeit excruciating, experience. They will make tweaks here and there with the scheme, and the depth chart for Stony Brook is the same.
“I’m certain without any doubt, confident, that Lou and our senior leadership along that defense is going to be ready to step up and play this game,” Quinn said.