Niagara Gazette

Sports

September 15, 2009

UB FOOTBALL: Gill defends his defense

AMHERST — The Buffalo Bulls played stellar defense on the very first play of Saturday’s loss to Pittsburgh. The Panthers tried to exploit a nine-inch height advantage over UB cornerback Domonic Cook, but the St. Joe’s product made a superb play on the pass, and had a potentially momentous interception in his grasp before the ground jostled the ball loose.

Next thing they knew, the Bulls were down 14-0, and by halftime, the Panthers had reached the end zone on five of their six drives.

“We didn’t play physical in the first half,” defensive captain Mike Newton said. “That’s on us as players.”

Coach Turner Gill said before the season that he expected this year’s defensive unit to be the best unit he’s had in four years at UB. After a solid effort in the season opener at UTEP and the setback against Pitt, Gill still has high hopes.

“I feel good about where we are at,” Gill said Tuesday. “We’re not making any wholesale changes in our schemes or personnel.”

Gill even praised the defense for allowing only 119 yards in the second half. Take away Dion Lewis’ 85-yard touchdown run when the game was already out of reach, and the Bulls allowed just 2.3 yards per play in the second half.

“I was pleased to see the defense have some resolve about themselves and play well in the second half and give us a chance to win the game,” Gill said. “I maybe would’ve had a little bit more concern if we weren’t able to adjust.”

Cook, who had eight tackles, including one for a loss, and two pass breakups, was selected as defensive player of the game by the coaching staff.

“He was consistent in this Pittsburgh game,” Gill said. “Yeah, he did have the one tackle missed (on the opening drive), but that’s going to happen.

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