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Lack of discipline takes a toll on UB's offensive efforts at Nebraska

Lack of discipline takes a toll on UB's offensive efforts at Nebraska

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Nebraska prepares for Sooners with 28-3 victory over Buffalo

Buffalo head coach Maurice Linguist watches his team from the sideline as they play Nebraska during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb.

LINCOLN, Neb. – Discipline became an issue for the University at Buffalo football team in a 28-3 loss Saturday at Nebraska.

If the Bulls’ loss to the Huskers was a study of stark contrasts – after a 69-7 rout of Wagner in the season opener Sept. 2 – then the loss to the Huskers exhibited a much less brighter side of the Bulls.

The Bulls need to keep their cool in pivotal moments, particularly against signature opponents.

The Bulls took only six penalties for 54 yards against Wagner, but took 10 for 88 yards against Nebraska, including a pair of penalties in the third quarter that hindered what could have been a pair of scoring drives. A 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct against running back Dylan McDuffie moved the Bulls from the Nebraska 23 to the 38 on their first drive of the second half.

Then, on its next drive, UB was called for sideline interference early in the drive, which pushed the Bulls from their own 22 back to the 11. UB reached midfield and was forced to punt, but the drive stalled in part due to another self-inflicted error.

At the time, the Bulls trailed Nebraska 14-3, and they needed points. They needed anything that would allow them to somehow impact the momentum against a Big Ten opponent.

They didn’t need penalties, particularly penalties that came out of emotion and disrupted the flow of the game.

UB coach Maurice Linguist made a distinction between the types penalties his team took against the Huskers.

“There’s discipline penalties and then there’s combative penalties,” Linguist said. “In the course of the game, a holding, a pass interference or a call that doesn’t go your way. Sometimes there’s combative penalties that happen throughout the course of the game. Some of the non-combative penalties are things that we’re going to watch on film and improve from. They’re all correctable. I’m very confident in our approach.”

That would mean that the penalties against UB for sideline interference and unsportsmanlike conduct fell into the “discipline” category, though Linguist didn’t specifically mention or answer for those penalties.

However, the penalties were reactionary and unnecessary, and hurt UB’s cause as it attempted to produce consistent offensive drives.

The Bulls produced offense – they just didn’t produce points. The Bulls needed points more than they needed penalties, especially in an effort to compete against a Nebraska program that has fallen a few rungs below its once lofty status as a college football power.

“The discipline, that’s on us,” said linebacker James Patterson, who led the Bulls with 12 tackles. “That’s what Coach Mo tells us, every day. If you get personal fouls or stuff like that, that’s playing hard, he doesn’t mind that. But it’s the discipline things, like offsides or 12 men on the field, you’ve got to control or limit it.”

A win against Nebraska wasn’t a given, despite the fact that the Huskers have stumbled through much of Scott Frost’s tenure as head coach. And while Linguist said he doesn’t accept moral victories, keeping pace with Nebraska would have been a strong gauge of how the Bulls will compete this season. UB is now 1-10 against Big Ten Conference opponents, and its only win against a Big Ten opponent was a 42-13 win Sept. 22, 2018 at Rutgers.

Now, the corrections need to come quick for the Bulls, who face Coastal Carolina at noon Saturday at UB Stadium. The Chanticleers are ranked No. 17 in the nation in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. They’re arguably one of the top Group of Five teams in the country. They’re coming off a 49-22 win against Kansas, led by former UB coach Lance Leipold.

The Chanticleers are the next measuring stick the Bulls face as they prepare to defend their MAC East Division title, and discipline will be one of the areas the Bulls focus on as they look to create equal footing with their next opponent.

When asked how to rectify those kinds of penalties and mistakes, Patterson leaned on the process of repetition.

“It’s just in practice,” he said. “We work those situations, 24/7. That’s one thing we’re going to take forward, we’re going to look at all the situations that we messed up on today, and we’re going to hit them in practice and try to correct them.”

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College/high school sports enterprise reporter

I'm a college/high school sports enterprise reporter at The Buffalo News. I've worked in sports journalism since 1997 and I have covered everything from college football to the Stanley Cup playoffs, high school sports and the NCAA Tournament.

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