At 6-feet and 210 pounds, Buffalo State's Tim Seifert hardly looks the part of a defensive lineman.
But don't tell that to the Bengals' coaching staff. They know the undersized sophomore tackle packs quite a wallop.
"Tim is probably one of the toughest kids I know," Buffalo State coach Jerry Boyes said. "Forty-yard times and size are nice on paper, but they don't define the best football player.
"We find out the best football player on the field in practice and on game day. Tim's proven to be one of the best."
In fact, Seifert has become a force on the Bengals' defense, which has allowed just four touchdowns in three games.
He is Upstate New York Division III leader in sacks with five. He also has 20 tackles, including a team-high seven for 43 yards in losses.
Boyes saw all he needed to know about Seifert last year when he became a starter as a freshman after beating out the senior incumbent who was 6-3 and 270 pounds.
"Tim is a football player, period," Boyes said. "He understands where he's supposed to be at all times."
He has become an expert at trench warfare, holding his own against bigger offensive lineman and often winning most of his matchups.
"It's about strength, quickness and knowing what your opponent is going to do and how you react to it," said Seifert. "As long as you have desire and a willingness to pay the price, you can be successful."
Seifert's past success is a big reason why he has done so well.
He was a starter on a powerful Caledonia-Mumford High School team that won three New York State championships.
"Coach (Mike) Monacelli taught me a lot of the techniques that I have been able to apply here," Seifert said. "The most important thing I learned was attitude. We felt we would win against anyone we lined up against, and that's how I feel now."
Seifert and the Buffalo State defense faces the toughest test of the season Saturday when Cortland State comes to Coyer Field.
Cortland (2-1) averages more than 30 points and 447 yards per game. The Red Dragons feature one of Upstate New York's best running backs in Omar Darling, who ran for 159 and three touchdowns in a 38-9 win over the Bengals last year.
"He's got great quickness and breakaway speed and his ability to cutback against the pursuit is amazing," Seifert said.
"Because he's so small (5-foot-6), he can hide behind the offensive line until the last second, so it doesn't give you much time to react off your blocker.
"We have to stay on our feet and get off blocks quickly. One thing will help us is our defense is a lot quicker. It's going to be a tough game, but I'm looking forward to it."