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Talking Bull: A midseason interview with Buffalo’s Khalil Hodge

Our very own Ryan Sura checks in with one of the MAC’s best linebackers about the 2017 campaign thus far.

NCAA Football: Buffalo at Minnesota Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bulls (3-2) are starting to get into a groove.

After winning their last two games, over Colgate and Florida Atlantic, it seems as if they are starting to roll. The Bulls defense has been solid, allowing just 19.8 points per game thus far. This is in big part thanks to the captain of their defense, Khalil Hodge.

I sat down with the middle linebacker for the second time this season. Hodge is excited for what is to come for the Bulls:

“We’re making strides,” Hodge said. “We haven't made huge accomplishments. But, last year was a rough year, so we are definitely headed in the right direction.

The Bulls defense has made some adjustments, and they’re slowly working. nd are manking a Buffalo is allowing 230.0 yards per game on the ground, which is not much of an improvement from 2016 where they allowed 253.2 rush yards per game, but after a lost season, there’s certainly optimism.

Defensive improvement can be best seen in the passing game, where the Bulls are currently 14th in the NCAA in passing defense with an average of 156 yards allowed per game, while only allowing two touchdowns.

“We’ve been in four really close games,” Hodge said. “In my opinion, that’s why you play football: to play exciting, close games. We just need to figure out a way to come out with the win.”

Hodge has been a bright spot on this defense. The six-foot-one, 235 lb. linebacker has 63 tackles through five games, which is good for third in the NCAA. Hodge cannot take full credit for his success because his teammates have been essential to his dominance.

“My teammates and coaches are always there supporting me, giving me advice,” Hodge said. “I have two veteran outside linebackers by my side that I work well with. But personally, my preparation is better this year. Whenever I see something that I can execute, I trust myself and go.”

Hodge is finally starting to get recognized by the NCAA as an elite linebacker. His speed allows him to pursue the ball carrier at a high level. However, Hodge knows there is more to be unlocked.

“It is nice to get some recognition. But, I’m not even close to finished. My goals have not been met just yet. I need to do more,” Hodge expressed. “I got my motivations mentally, I just need to keep pushing to achieve them.”

The veteran linebacker has seen progress in himself, but also a lot of defensive players. Hodge highlighted cornerback Tatum Slack who has been incredible to watch throughout the four games of the 2017 campaign.

“Tatum Slack has been great. He has something like seven pass breakups. He’s also a California guy, and I actually hosted him when he came to visit. So, it’s nice to see him succeed on the field and help the team win.”

Slack had six tackles, three pass deflections and one forced fumble in their most recent win against Florida Atlantic.

Khalil Hodge is headed in the right direction, and the Bulls right alongside him. The NCAA and fans should be excited to see what happens next for California native.