ADVERTISEMENT

By Mark Gaughan

The University at Buffalo run defense looked organized and on target Saturday during an hour-long controlled scrimmage.

The Bulls’ defense forced three three-and-out possessions in five series against the starting offense. The Bulls’ first-stringers held running backs to just 28 yards on nine carries, a 3-yard average.

It was an encouraging showing for an outfit that is aiming to prove it isn’t lost without NFL first-round draft pick Khalil Mack.

“They’re playing together as a unit,” said UB coach Jeff Quinn. “That’s what our team-defense mentality is all about. . . . I see a unit out there, less a bunch of individuals, and that’s what these kids are committed to.”

UB’s defense ranked second in the Mid-American Conference last season in both points and yards allowed. It returns just four starters, but most of the backups saw significant playing time.

“I think we really mesh well on defense,” said middle linebacker Lee Skinner, who has started all 37 games of his UB career. “I think we’ve got a lot of guys. I think our team is more deep than it’s ever been. Everybody knows what they’re supposed to do.”

Skinner had a stuff of freshman running back Diamond Williams on a fourth-and-1 play in the red zone.

The defense had some advantages. The first-team offense started out fairly vanilla, with runs into the middle of the line on first and second downs of each of its first two series. The second series started from "the black zone," from the offense's own 2-yard line.

The second-string defense yielded 12 yards on four carries to running backs but also allowed 28 yards on three scrambles by quarterbacks. The third defense allowed 19 rushing yards on seven attempts to running backs.