RENO, Nev. – Scratch all that preseason talk about the University at Buffalo front seven being much improved from last season.
The Bulls’ defense got steamrolled by the University of Nevada in a 38-14 blowout loss.
Nevada held a 31-0 lead and rushed for 352 yards on 64 carries.
Star junior running back James Butler, who gashed UB for 177 yards last season, rumbled for 174 yards on 28 carries and scored three TDs. Speedy backup back Jaxson Kincaide rushed 18 times for 99 yards.
“It’s not at all what we expected,” said UB coach Lance Leipold. “I don’t think we played with very good pad level. We didn’t tackle very well. I think we were on our heels quite a bit. It’s shockingly disappointing. I think we’re better than that.”
Nevada returned four starters on its offensive line, which is considered the best front five in the Mountain West Conference. So UB was facing quality offensive competition. But the Bulls entered the season thinking their defensive front would be a significant strength of the team.
UB’s defensive line created very little disruption on the Nevada side of the line of scrimmage, and the Bulls were not good enough at setting a firm edge against the Wolf Pack sweeps and tosses.
“I just think we weren’t getting off blocks on the perimeter as well as the second and third levels as well as needed to,” Leipold said. “Yeah, we’ve got to get better at it. You’ve got to credit them some, too.”
Nevada put on a ball-control clinic on its five touchdown drives. The numbers: 8 plays, 72 yards; 15 plays, 87 yards; 11 plays, 75 yards; 13 plays, 75 yards; 15 plays, 75 yards.
“Right now it’s not something we want to keep in our mind for too long,” said UB middle linebacker Khalil Hodge. “Tomorrow we’ll watch the film and try to put it behind us.”
“I feel like after first and 10, we put them in second and short too often,” Hodge said. “Like coach” Chris “Simpson always says, you can do anything you want when it’s second and 2 or second and 3. I feel like that was a big deal.”
On first down, Nevada rushed 33 times for 234 yards, a 7.1-yard average.
“Obviously we’re disappointed,” said defensive end Demone Harris. “I still felt our coaches put us in the best position they possibly could. We just have to have better execution and better consistency.”
Getting moved off the line of scrimmage wasn’t the only problem for UB, however.
Some self-inflicted errors aided the Nevada rush onslaught.
Examples: UB defensive end Joe Keels crashed on the zone-read fake and let Stewart get outside of him for a 9-yard score, Nevada’s first TD. . . . UB had Nevada’s second TD drive stopped, but as safety Ryan Williamson dragged down Tyler Stewart for a third-down stop, he pulled the quarterback’s facemask. That gave Nevada a first-and-goal at the 7. Earlier in the drive linebacker Brandon Berry let Butler get to the outside on a 28-yard run.