AMHERST, N.Y. (AP) — Short of calling Kansas coach Lance Leipold for a scouting report on Coastal Carolina’s defense, Buffalo quarterback Kyle Vantrease gained insight by watching the Chanticleers rout the Jayhawks last week.
Vantrease spent the previous four years playing under Leipold in Buffalo before the coach left for the Big 12 this spring. The players might be different, but the offensive-minded Leipold's scheme is much the same, allowing Vantrease to get a feel for what he'll be facing Saturday, when the 16th-ranked Chants (2-0) play the Bulls (1-1) in the schools' first meeting.
“I had a lot of experience in that offense, so I can understand what they were doing,” Vantrease said. “You can understand exactly how the play is being called and what they’re doing, so you can understand the defense and what they’re trying to do.”
The Jayhawks didn’t fare well in a 49-22 loss. And Vantrease appreciates he’ll have his hands full against a swarming unit which already has seven sacks this season, forced Kansas to turn the ball over on downs five times, and returns 10 starters from its Sun Belt Conference championship team a year ago.
“They’re sound. They’ve very well-coached. They’re very athletic. They get after the ball,” he said. “But it’s going to come down to us. And whatever the defense does, it shouldn’t matter if we are all technically sound and we do our job.”
That might be easier said than done given the lack of finish the Mid-American Conference Bulls experienced in a 28-3 loss at Nebraska last weekend. Buffalo missed three of four field-goal attempts and had five drives stall inside the Cornhuskers 35.
Buffalo’s bigger challenge might be on defense against a balanced offense which has already generated a combined 1,070 yards and 101 points. Starting with a 52-14 win over The Citadel, Coastal Carolina has scored touchdowns on 13 of 18 possessions (not including two end-of-game kneel-downs).
“The main thing in our offense is really execution, our offensive line executing,” Chanticleers coach Jamey Chadwell said. “You don’t score 100 points in two games with a bad offensive line, you just don’t. ... We’re clicking.”
Led by quarterback Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina's attack features receiver Jaivon Heiligh, who has topped 100 yards in each of his past four games, and running back Reese White, who has 164 yards on 21 carries and five touchdowns already this year.
Buffalo’s defense struggled against Nebraska in an outcome that could have been more lopsided had the Cornhuskers not missed all three field-goal attempts and had three touchdowns negated by penalties.
With much to clean up on both sides of the ball, first-year coach Maurice Linguist was encouraged in how the Bulls trailed only 14-3 entering the fourth quarter before Nebraska capitalized on Buffalo’s mistakes. Vantrease’s interception deep in his own end led to the Cornhuskers scoring on the next play to go up 21-3.
“If you asked me when we took the job in May, if we were going to be in the fourth quarter with an opportunity to win the game, I would have said, `We did enough things right,’” Linguist said. “Now, in the fourth quarter, we didn’t make enough plays to close the game out.”
McCall leads the nation in completion percentage and quarterback efficiency. He's 33 of 40 in two games with a pass efficiency rating of 231.2. “He’s handling the offense well,” Chadwell said. “A challenge is when you have a great year you come in and think you’ve got to do everything.”
Hired in May after initially accepting a job as co-defensive coordinator at Michigan in January, Linguist returns to Buffalo where he spent the 2012 and ’13 seasons coaching Bulls defensive backs under Jeff Quinn. In 2013, Buffalo made its second bowl appearance, losing to San Diego State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
Linguist replaced Leipold, who built Buffalo into a MAC power by leading the school to three consecutive bowl berths over the past three years. In that time, Buffalo has built a new indoor practice facility and upgraded its weight and meeting rooms.
“I wanted (the job) before I got here. And when I saw it myself, it made me want it even more,” Linguist said of the upgrades.
NEW YORK BLUES
Coastal Carolina is attempting to end a couple of 0-fers in their nearly two decades of playing college football. The program is 0-3 all-time against MAC opponents. The Chants also have never won in six games against teams from New York. That includes an 0-5 mark against Stony Brook and a loss to Colgate when Coastal played in the Football Championship Subdivision.
AP Sports Writer Pete Iacobelli contributed to this report.
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