AMHERST, N.Y. - Week after week, it's routine for opposing coaches to heap praise on Bowling Green State University's scheme, execution and statistics leading up to a game.
This week was the same except for one thing - University at Buffalo coach Jim Hofher was talking about the defense.
On the Mid-American Conference teleconference on Monday, after the regular words about BGSU's offense, ranked in the top 10 nationally in scoring, Hofher took note of the Falcon defenders, who held Ohio University to 68 rushing yards a week ago.
"They certainly gain a lot of notoriety from their offensive performances which have been so consistent from week to week, [but] I'm also very impressed with their defense," Hofher said. "They've played very hard, they've got tough guys, they've got a good capable scheme. They play the whole game."
After giving up one touchdown in each of its last two games, the BGSU defense will try to continue that streak when the Falcons, 3-2 and 2-0 in the MAC, play Buffalo (0-5, 0-2) at UB stadium today.
It's in BGSU's favor to do so since the Bulls are last in the country in scoring. But the past two weeks, especially against Ohio, the Falcons showed they can put together a complete game.
Although BGSU's defensive backfield has performed well, second in the MAC to Buffalo in pass defense, prior to the Ohio game the team had not been able to stop the run. It showed up in the national statistics rankings, where the Falcons' run defense sat at the bottom.
BGSU coach Gregg Brandon said the last-place ranking was the last straw.
"We drew a line in the sand, and said, 'There's no way that this football team is last in the country in rushing defense. But, that's what the statistics show right now, so what are we going to do about it?'" Brandon said. "And guys stepped up, and did a nice job."
Of Ohio's 14 possessions, the Falcons forced nine punts, had two fourth-down stops and intercepted two passes. Half of the Bobcats' drives were three-and-outs, and Ohio missed scoring on three red-zone opportunities.
Against Ohio, fundamentals previously missing were in place, Brandon said.
"We tackled much better than we have, we've been emphasizing it more in the past couple weeks," Brandon said. "Ever since Boise, when we were totally outhit, we have had physical practices, where we have really banged and tackled and worked on those types of things."
The defense has instilled a do-or-die mentality, senior linebacker Jamien Johnson said.
"If we're going to have a chance to win more games, it's going to come down to whether or not we can stop the run," Johnson said. "We're no longer going to let people run over us."
Buffalo is averaging 6.2 points a game and did not score a touchdown in its first three contests. Last weekend the Bulls held the University of Akron scoreless going into the fourth quarter before losing 13-7.
The Falcons' goal is to keep Bulls coach Hofher impressed after the game.
"They have struggled, but at the same time we haven't played as well as we could on the road," junior defensive end Devon Parks said. "It will be a good challenge."
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