NASSAU, Bahamas — On the teams’ first full day in the Bahamas, both Buffalo and Charlotte gave their respective student-athletes the day off from practice as both sides approach gameday for the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl on Friday at 2 p.m.
While the day off was already scheduled for the 49ers, it was a surprise Tuesday morning move for the Bulls.
“Coach showed us the practice schedule this morning and it said ‘the water park,'” sophomore running back Jaret Patterson said. “Guys started celebrating and jumping up. It was pretty cool that coach did that. It gives us the day off to enjoy this experience.”
Charlotte redshirt senior linebacker Jeff Gemmell agreed that the 49ers are also enjoying their time in the Bahamas so far.
“This place is amazing. The beaches are beautiful, so we went out to the beach for a little bit and enjoyed that and the clear water,” he said. “It’s kind of nice being in an environment like this in a tropical setting. I can keep my tank top and swim shorts on.”
Buffalo Offensive Coordinator Andy Kotelnicki discussed the importance of allowing the team to enjoy the trip while still focusing on the football.
“There is a balancing act between making sure the guys are prepared and enjoying the experience. Coach [Leipold] made a good call today,” he said. “Let’s walk through real quick to make sure the guys’ minds stay fresh and make sure we are doing things they way we need to do it so the guys can enjoy this [the Atlantis]. Keep in mind that we had a long time to prepare for Charlotte. I am excited about how we have prepared.”
As the teams get closer to gameday on Friday, the coaching staff continues preparations for the game behind the scenes.
“Buffalo runs the ball…They don’t hide from it, they don’t cheat it, and you know it’s coming. I respect them for that” Charlotte Assistant Head Coach/Co-Defensive Coordinator Marcus West said. “Just like I can tell you what our defense has produced in rushing the passer, you can see what their offense has produced in their running backs. They run the football, and I look forward to facing the challenge of stopping them.”
Buffalo’s rushing offense ranks in the top 10 in the country, averaging more than 250 yards per game. The Bulls feature a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Patterson (1,626) and Kevin Marks (1,008), presenting a challenge for the 49ers defense.
Charlotte’s defensive specialty is its pass rush, averaging three sacks per game. Alex Highsmith is second in the country in sacks, becoming the program’s first-ever All-American.
“We just need to do our job. We need to worry about us and not worry about Buffalo,” 49er senior defensive back Marquill Osborne said. “Our edge is very strong. Stopping the run is our strength really, and they like to run. I like the matchup.”
Buffalo also matches the confidence in its abilities.
“We feel like we match up perfectly,” junior wide receiver Antonio Nunn said. “At the end of the day it is going to be a hard battle. We are preparing our time so we can get a win.”
Buffalo and Charlotte enjoy perfect weather at the Beach Bash
The teams ended the day with the annual Beach Bash at the Lagoon and West Beach at Atlantis.
Plenty of games were set up for the teams to enjoy along the picturesque coastline for the first part of the event. The main event was a 3-on-3 dance competition between the Bulls and the 49ers, which the Bulls won after several rounds.
After the fun and games wrapped up, the teams then shared a meal as the sun was setting over the horizon.