By Thomas Baldwin
The University at Buffalo football team is in a classic “trap” situation this week.
The Bulls are coming off a better-than-expected performance in Saturday’s season opening 35-16 loss at Pitt, one of the upper-echelon teams in the Big East Conference.
Also, the Bulls play their home opener on Saturday against a Division I-AA program, SUNY Stony Brook.
Conventional wisdom says UB should be big favorites in this ballgame. In its last two games against I-AA schools, UB bludgeoned Gardner-Webb 40-9 two years ago and hammered Rhode Island 31-0 in its season opener last year.
But at UB’s weekly press conference Tuesday, coach Jeff Quinn praised Stony Brook, and downplayed the notion of any complacency amongst his players as it prepares for a club in a lower division.
“You see Sacramento State beating Oregon State, you see Ball State beating Indiana,” Quinn said. “Believe me, they (Stony Brook) have our full attention. They are a well-coached football team. They have a sound fundamental scheme and philosophy. We are going to have to come with our “A” game.”
Like UB, the Seawolves earned some respect on Saturday despite losing. Stony Brook, a large underdog, took favored Texas-El Paso to overtime before finally succumbing 30-24. One player who undoubtedly caught the Buffalo defensive players’ eyes was running back Miguel Maysonet, who gained 103 rushing yards on only 18 carries.
“They are certainly a good football team, and we are going to have to play our very best to have the outcome we expect,” said Quinn, whose club has only won two of its 13 games under his tenure. “What they did in the running game against UTEP was excellent.”
Quinn was especially impressed with Stony Brook’s defense, which created four turnovers in Saturday’s loss.
“UTEP threw the ball on them, but certainly their run game was very minimal,” Quinn said.
Quinn quickly dismissed the notion of his club taking the Seawolves lightly.
“I don’t look at it that way. In my mind, every game is important,” he said. “Every single week is important to prepare the right way. Regardless of whom you play, you better play your “A” game. As I said, it is tough to win Division IA football games. I know our kids put a lot of time in and our coaches do too.
“We are approaching this game like we will every single game. ... It is the most important game. We are going to approach it that way as long as I am the head football coach here.”
It is no secret a victory would be extra satisfying for the Bulls, who have not won much lately. And a win would bolster the mindset of a club that is trying to turn things around after going 2-10 last season.
“We need to taste that sweet taste of victory,” Quinn said. “We need to have that. I will continue to exert my will on our players to dig deeper to perform for four quarters. You will get what you deserve. We are very close, and this week is going to be that week.”