BOISE — Khafari Buffalo saw the triple option nearly every day in practice for four years playing at The Citadel.
Perhaps that familiarity has something to do with the Boise State safety's breakout game Friday in the Broncos' 30-19 win against Air Force in the their Mountain West opener.
Buffalo had his first start at Boise State (4-0, 1-0 Mountain West) and finished the game with 11 tackles after coming into the game with just one tackle on the season.
“Khafari came from a program where they run the triple option at The Citadel so he knew what it was about and he knew what it took to stop it,” safety Kekaula Kaniho said. “He did a really good job of just flying around all night and really being the extra hat to the ball.
“He has a lot of experience. Every day in practice the last four years that’s what he saw.”
The graduate transfer had played in all three of the Broncos' games before Friday's, including a significant amount of time in the 36-31 season opening win at Florida State, but a third-down tackle two weeks ago in the 14-7 win against Marshall represented the only time he appeared on the stat sheet in the first three quarters.
He wasted little time getting onto the stat sheet on Friday.
In the second play of the game for Boise State's defense, he combined with Ezekiel Noa to take down Air Force quarterback Donald Hammond on a keeper. He ended the first half with seven tackles.
“I thought tonight he made plays, that's what he did,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “He played fast. The thing about Khafari, regardless of the offense, he's a very talented football player. And he's getting better in our system. I think his ability to play the option tonight played into him having more plays on the field. But he showed up and I'll go watch the film,watch how he played, but he did a really good job.”
But one of his biggest moments of the day came on his only tackle in the third quarter. With Air Force in the Broncos' red zone Buffalo and Kekoa Nawahine took down Air Force running back Kadin Remsberg on third down, forcing the Falcons to settle for a 32-yard field goal by Jake Koehnke.
That field goal was the first points allowed by the Bronco defense in the second half, but it kept Boise State within 13-10 and the Bronco offense drove 77 yards in 11 plays on the next drive to retake the lead.
Buffalo is playing in his first season at Boise State after coming in as a graduate transfer against The Citadel. The Citadel, a service academy located in South Carolina, runs the triple option, much like Air Force. He had spent four seasons with the Bulldogs, redshirting his first year and playing the next three.
Last year, in his junior season, Buffalo started in six games making 38 tackles and an interception.
He tied his career high with seven tackles in a 34-32 win at VMI. He also had seven tackles in a game against Clemson in his sophomore season. He blew by that number on Friday.
“Every time he made a tackle, I said 'that's not fair, you know exactly where it's going,'” said defensive tackle Sonatne Lui, who had a FBS-era school record 16 tackles for Boise State. “He brings good understanding of where he needs to fit. That's one thing I saw throughout the week, they're looking who to put in that SAM position, who better to put someone that played it every day for four years. That spoke volumes today when he made his place.”
His first start at Boise State came with him replacing Tyreque Jones, who had 11 tackles against Air Force in last season's 48-38 win. Jones played briefly on Friday, but didn't record any stats.
With the way Buffalo played Friday, he may have more career highs to come.