Coming off a 35-14 thumping at Louisiana, Liberty’s football team will look to rebound this Saturday, Sept. 14 against Buffalo.
Unfortunately for the Flames, beating this week’s opponent will be no small task. In 2018, Buffalo won the MAC outright. The Bulls finished with a 10-4 overall record and a 7-1 conference record that landed them in the Dollar General Bowl, where they lost to Troy 32-22.
This season, Buffalo won their first game against FCS opponent Robert Morris before a lopsided loss at 13th ranked Penn State. Buffalo will approach Saturday’s game in Lynchburg as a “must-win,” according to Tim Riordan of UB Bull Run: a blog that covers Buffalo sports.
The first thing Coach Freeze noted about Buffalo in his Monday, Sept. 9 press conference is that Buffalo plays very hard. Despite their 32-point loss last week, Freeze lauded Buffalo’s obvious effort and discipline.
“When you watch a team play and you see every play is played with passion and it’s played hard, fundamentally sound, and their guys were in the right spots, you know they’re very, very well-coached,” Freeze said. The Bulls are coached by Lance Leipold, who ran away with MAC Coach of the Year honors in 2018.
The Bulls defense is anchored by junior defensive end Malcolm Koonce. Koonce logged 30 tackles, three sacks, and one forced fumble in 2018. The Bulls defense is also led by free safety Joey Banks, who has already tallied 13 tackles in two games: nearly a third of the 41 tackles he had last season.
“He’s always around the ball,” Freeze said of Banks. “He seems to be the captain of that defense, making the calls in the secondary.”
“They do what they do, and they do it extremely well,” Freeze concluded about Buffalo’s defense.
On offense, the Bulls are led by redshirt-freshman quarterback Matt Myers. Myers has completed 21-of-41 passes through two games for three touchdowns and one interception. Jaret Patterson and Kevin Marks split snaps at running back. Patterson logged 1,013 yards in 2018 and Marks rushed for 845.
6’6″ tight end Zac Lefebvre is a favorite target of Myers, as is junior receiver Antonio Nunn, who had 113 yards last week at Penn State.
Buffalo is solid all around. Liberty will need to minimize mistakes and show up ready to play if they hope to get into the win column Saturday night.