Buffalo State coach Jerry Boyes believes his team is capable of beating Cortland State. The question is whether his players believe it.
"Cortland State has beaten us the last two years, and soundly," said Boyes, whose Bengals (2-0) visit the Red Dragons (1-1) today (1 p.m., Radio 91.3 FM). "I'm anxious to see how our kids respond to the challenge we have ahead of us on our first road trip of the season."
Boyes thinks the challenge today may be more mental than physical. Two years ago, five turnovers contributed to a 38-9 loss. Last season, Buffalo State gave up too many big plays, including two touchdowns on special teams, in a 58-32 rout.
"The game really is won from the shoulder pads up," Boyes said. "The psychology part is huge. I don't think it's a talent thing at all. It's just getting over the different parts of the game and not allowing one or two setbacks to affect how you play throughout the game."
Although Buffalo State is averaging 37 points per game, it hasn't been productive on offense in the second half of either win. The Bengals scored 42 first-half points in last week's 42-27 win over Adrian as running backs Shawn Starks and Deon Foendoe had three touchdowns each.
Starks, Foendoe and the rest of the Bengal offense will need a 60-minute effort against Cortland's defense, led by senior tackle Jason Rebrovich (Clarence) and senior cornerback Ben Faery (Wilson).
Cortland lost its biggest offensive threat in tailback Omar Darling, who graduated. Junior Sean Chavious is a decent replacement, but is averaging just 65 yards and 3.9 yard per carry. The Red Dragons have a good passing game, however, with quarterback Jeff Humble.
Meanwhile, Canisius (1-2, 0-1) meets defending Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion Fairfield (2-0, 1-0) in the Griffs' home-opener at 1:30 in the Demske Sports Complex.
Fairfield, which is ineligible to defend its title because of recruiting violations, has the fourth-longest winning streak in Division I at 10 games. The Stags have beaten Canisius twice in the three-game series, including a 42-0 rout last season. Unfortunately for the Griffs, the Stags still have most of their talent on offense. All-MAAC quarterback Tom Lopusznick leads an attack that averages 484 yards per game (eighth in I-AA).
Canisius may be without starting quarterback Bryan Roland (St. Joe's), who suffered a hip injury last week. But the Griffs have confidence in backup Mark Nachreiner (North Tonawanda), who threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns in the second half of a 33-22 loss at St. Peter's.
"Fairfield is quick and physical on defense, so if Bryan isn't mobile, it doesn't make sense to leave him out there to get hurt," Griffs coach Chuck Williams said.