NCAA

Proud Pettine eager to turn Bills defense around

Proud Pettine eager to turn Bills defense around

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) New Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is still evaluating the high-priced, underachieving group he has inherited, but he saw enough from the opposing sideline last season to know ``the cupboard is not bare'' in Buffalo.

Having spent the past four seasons with the Jets, Pettine says Friday in his introductory press conference that the talent level in Buffalo was one factor in his decision to switch teams two weeks ago.

``There are some good football players here and we are excited to work with them,'' he said. ``They are explosive athletes and playmakers and we are looking forward to building a system that is going to take advantage of that.''

Pettine's challenge is to transform a defense that last season finished 22nd in yards allowed, while giving up 435 points, the second-most in team history. Buffalo went 6-10 before coach Chan Gailey was replaced by Doug Marrone.

The defensive struggles were a surprise, considering Buffalo invested consecutive top 10 picks in defensive lineman Marcell Dareus and cornerback Stephon Gilmore and signed defensive end Mario Williams to a $100 million contract in free agency.

``I can't really speak on what happened here,'' Pettine said. ``I do know that we are going to bring a passion. We are going to work hard and the stuff we are going to do is going to highlight what we do well. There is no substitute for putting the work in, both on the field and in the classroom. I think that's where a lot of people think there is some magic schematically. It really isn't. Football is a game of a million little things.

``And we'll try to get as many of those things taught as we can.''

Pettine said it's too early to declare what schematic changes he may implement. Dave Wannstedt switched the Bills to four-lineman, three-linebacker base formation last season after the team spent two years deploying - and drafting players for - a 3-4 alignment.

Under Pettine, New York's defense has not ranked lower than eighth in the NFL in yards allowed. And that includes a top ranking in 2009. The Jets were known for being a 3-4 team the past four seasons, but Pettine said that is a ``misconception.''

``The cornerstone of our system is its flexibility and its multiplicity,'' he said. ``We'll be in 3-4, we'll be in 4-3, we'll be in 46. If you can draw up a front, we'll probably be in it.''

Pettine was more forthcoming about the attacking style the Bills will play.

``We're going to play smart, we're going to be tough, we're going to be relentless,'' he said. ``We're going to put pressure on you. We're going to force quarterbacks, we're going to force offenses to make very quick decisions. We're going to take our best shot at you. We're not going to be a read-and-react defense. That is not in our vocabulary.''

Marrone has ``always been an admirer'' of Pettine's and that he boarded a flight to meet with him immediately after being introduced in Buffalo Jan. 21.

``Having more of a background on the offensive side of the ball ... you look for someone that has caused a lot of problems for offenses around the NFL. Someone that you don't ever want to play against,'' Marrone said. ``When that was going through my mind, it kept coming around to one name.''

Pettine said he received several calls from mutual friends urging him to go work for Marrone.

``It got to the point,'' Pettine said, ``where I was literally answering the phone and saying if you are calling me to tell me how good of a guy Doug is and how great he is going to be to work for, I'd say, `I already got that. You got anything else?'''

Virginia Tech survives marathon 6OT game thanks to a two-point conversion

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Virginia Tech survives marathon 6OT game thanks to a two-point conversion

In a vacuum, the final play wasn’t anything to write home about. But the journey to get there sure was.

The Hokies needed a whopping six(!) overtimes to complete the task, but they were in fact able to record a win over the visiting UNC Tar Heels Saturday evening in Blacksburg.

There was an amazing one-handed catch to help keep their hopes alive, a missed field goal to shatter them in the fourth overtime period, and everything in between. 

The fact that it ended on such a simple two-point conversion almost seems anticlimactic.

The marathon game itself was anything but anticlimactic, however. The two programs traded great plays and failed opportunities all afternoon long, but ultimately it was Virginia Tech who managed to come away with a big win.

It was an instant classic, and something students and fans alike in attendance won’t soon forget.

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Virginia Tech requires 6 OT periods to take down visiting UNC in wild finish

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Virginia Tech requires 6 OT periods to take down visiting UNC in wild finish

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Quincy Patterson's two-point conversion run in the sixth overtime lifted Virginia Tech a wild 43-41 victory over North Carolina on Saturday in the longest game in ACC history.

Both teams squandered opportunities to win the game in earlier overtime periods, as Virginia Tech kicker Brian Johnson missed game-winning attempts from 41 and 42 yards and North Carolina kicker Noah Ruggles missed from 35 yards and had a 44-yard attempt blocked.

The game marked the debut of college football's new overtime rules, which now call for going for two points after the fourth overtime. In the fifth overtime, Virginia Tech (5-2, 2-2 ACC) had the ball first, but Patterson's pass to Damon Hazelton was broken up by the Tar Heels' Storm Duck, giving the Tar Heels an opportunity to win the game.

North Carolina (3-4, 2-2 ACC), though, couldn't convert. Virginia Tech's Khalil Ladler read an option play perfectly and tackled Michael Carter for a loss, sending the game into a sixth overtime. The Tar Heels received the ball first, but quarterback Sam Howell was tackled for a loss, setting up Patterson's game-winning conversion.

The loss spoiled an outstanding game by Howell, who completed 26 of 49 for 348 yards and five touchdowns.

Patterson played the majority of the second half for the Hokies after starting quarterback Hendon Hooker went down with an injury late in the first half. He rushed for 122 yards on 21 carries and threw for 54 yards to pace the Hokies.

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