BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Gone were some of the big names — Khalil Hodge, Cam Lewis and Chuck Harris. While there were some questions and doubts about who might be able to step up and fill those voids early in the season, there were plenty of playmakers ready to step up for the Bulls on defense.
“I always said we were going to surprise a lot of people,” said safety Joey Banks. “We were worried about the guys that were here and we felt like we had a special group and we proved that.”
And, safety Joey Banks isn’t wrong.
The Bulls finished with the top defense in the Mid-American Conference, holding opponents to a lowly 22 points per game and also led the conference with 38 sacks – a mark that ranks 12th in all of college football.
“I think we take a lot of pride in how we did as a defense this year,” said linebacker Matt Otwinowski. “A lot of guys buying in to doing their jobs. People aren’t worried about getting all the tackles or all the fame and are just doing their job.”
“It just shows we play as a team. We’re not out there playing as individuals. It just shows there’s a true bond with everyone on defense and it allows us to play fast as a unit,” added Banks. “So, it’s exciting when you see a bunch of people making plays on defense, it’s never the same guy.”
The defense will have another opportunity to make big time plays Friday against Charlotte in the Bahamas Bowl. The 49ers ranked third in Conference USA averaging nearly 32 points per game. Led by Benny LeMay, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards, Charlotte’s rush attack was first in the league. He also ranked 2nd in the conference with 13 total touchdowns.
“It’s going to take everyone on the defense to be assignment sound and play hard,” said Otwinowski. “It’s going to be a different environment.”
The Bulls say the 49ers are very similar to Bowling Green. UB thumped BGSU in the season finale 49-7 and held the Falcons to 187 totals yards.
The recipe to success in the Bahamas — not all that different for what’s powered the UB defense all season.
““Play hard, do your job, have fun and things will take care of itself,” said Otwinowski.