Q and A with former BCU offensive coordinator Mark Orlando!

Prairie View Offensive Coordinator Mark Orlando

In 2010, Mark Orlando served as BCU’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Orlando helped guide the Wildcats to a 10-2 mark and the second ranked offense in FCS a season ago. He departed from Bethune-Cookman in January of this year and is now the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Prairie View A&M. Coach Orlando graciously agreed to an interview with HailWildcat.com.  Among other things, Coach Orlando revealed that:

-former Southern head coach Pete Richardson (whom he calls ‘the professor’) is his best friend,
-he considers legendary FAMU head coach Rudy Hubbard his mentor,
-and that Prairie View University is a gold mine in the middle of nowhere, waiting to be discovered.

Q. For the second straight year you are installing a new offense for a first year head coach. Are you happy with the progression of your offense and offensive players at this juncture of the season?
A. Yes I am. The kids have responded well and we’re enjoying it. We had a chance to introduce it in the Spring. Now it’s time to put it to the test against a great football team in Bethune-Cookman”.

Q. Last year your offense ended the year as the second ranked unit in FCS football. Do you feel any added pressure to duplicate that type of success this year at Prairie View?
A. “I think you always feel pressure. There is not an offensive coordinator out there who doesn’t want to score as many points as you can. Is there pressure, yes, but that’s part of the job”.

Q. Speaking of last year, how was it working for Coach Brian Jenkins and Bethune Cookman University?
A. “It was high energy, intensity and attention to detail. We worked very hard, it paid off, and it showed every Saturday”.

Q. Do you see any similarities between Coach Jenkins and Prairie View head coach Heishma Northern?
A. “Yes, both are intense and discipline is important in their programs. That’s the biggest similarity and likeness. They both want to run strong disciplined programs”.

Q. You were a coach at Southern when Heishma Northern was a player there. What type of player do you remember him being?
A. “Coach Northern is the same now as he was then; quiet and intense. He’s not a very outspoken guy, but when an issue arises and he has to get his point across you know right away. He’s a very intense, detail-oriented guy. Discipline will be a factor in our program. That’s what I like about him”.

Q. How much of the offense you ran last year should we expect to see this year?
A. “Some things will be similar but we’ll do some things differently too so it’s hard to say right now”.

Q. Prairie View loss some key players from a year ago including All-SWAC performer, QB KJ Black, your top 2 running backs and your top 3 wide receivers. Do you have any concerns about the skill positions this year?
A. “Yes, I am concerned. We’re breaking in a whole new group of skill players and a new offense. It’s pretty similar to what we we’re doing last year at Bethune. We had to break in some new players there too. Everybody we’re going into our first game with is inexperienced so you’re not quite sure what you’re going to get; but that’s why I am really looking forward to it. I am excited about getting those young kids out there against a team like Bethune-Cookman to see what they can do”.

Q. Have you settled on a starting QB yet?
A. “No, not yet. We’ll make that decision in a day or two”.

Q. Who are the players to watch on this year’s squad?
A. “Deandre Cooper at wide receiver, Glover at running back, Spence at wide receiver; they are all having great camps. Those are the three guys offensively that I think will have a chance to have a good season for us”.

Q. You have done it all at this level; a national championship, HBCU championships, top ranked offensive units. You have experienced a great deal of success in your 30 plus years of coaching at HBCUs. Is there any coach, player or team unit that really sticks out to you?
A. “That’s really hard to answer. There have been so many great players and coaches. When you’ve been in the business for as long as I have you see so many great coaches and players. Peter Richardson, starting with him in 1991 at Winston Salem and coaching with him for 17 years; Erik Randal at Southern (QB); Terrence Levy (QB), Michael Hayes (WR), Devin Lewis (WR). Guys like that were All-SWAC/All-HBCU but it all starts at the top with the head coaches. Brian Jenkins is doing a great job. We had some great players at Bethune too.

When you have great head coaches like Pete Richardson and Brian Jenkins; and you surround yourself with great players you’re going to have success. You just don’t want to screw it all up by giving the guys too much. You just want to do your part and then get out of the way”.

Q. In your opinion, what HBCU has the best home field advantage?
A. “I always thought Southern had the best home field advantage”.

Q. Better atmosphere, the Bayou Classic or the Florida Classic?
A. “Bayou Classic”.

Q. Better Marching Bands, the SWAC or the MEAC?
A. “SWAC”!

Q. Who would win today in 1-on-1 passing drills, former Safety Heishma Northern or former wide receiver Brian Jenkins?
A. (Laughs) “Coach Jenkins is faster and he would probably try to run away from him. But if Coach Northern got his hands on him, he would knock him out so it’s hard to say”.

Q. What are your expectations for this season for Prairie View A&M?
A. “Wow, I am really excited. We have a great core of guys, some young players that are excited about getting out there and playing. I think we can have a heck of a football team. We’ll know a lot more about ourselves after this weekend (matchup against BCU)”.

MEAC/SWAC Challenge Schedule of Events

Schedule of Events

Thursday, September 1st

8 am-10 am High School Seminar
By invitation only
Jones High School

Friday, September 2nd

8 pm Kick –Off/Welcome Banquet
By invitation only
Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Saturday, September 3rd Fan Day at Disney®

3 pm Magic Music Days Parade Disney’s Magic Kingdom
4 – 9 pm MEAC/SWAC Day Party Draft – Downtown Orlando
5 pm Legends’ Reception
By Invitation Only
Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Sunday, September 4th

9 am Pre-Game Praise Tinker Field
  Featuring Carter Tabernacle C.M.E.  
10 am The Great Heart & Soul Tailgate McCracken Field
10:30 am VIP Tailgate Florida Citrus Bowl
12 pm 7th Annual MEAC/SWAC ChallengeBethune-Cookman vs. Prairie View A& MHalftime Battle of the Bands Florida Citrus Bowl
Post Game 5th Quarter Battle of the BandsMEAC/SWAC Youth Challenge: Volusia Titans vs. Kissimmee KowboysThe Great Heart & Soul Tailgate  


Coach ’em up

Football Factoid #480—a good assistant coach can be as valuable to a team as an All-American quarterback.  After all, the assistant coaches provide the bulk of the daily instruction, technique corrections, real-time feedback, game planning, and in-game adjustments.  Coach Brian Jenkins deserves a ton of credit for quietly assembling a staff of outstanding assistants at Bethune. 

New Offensive Coordinator Rob Spence

Rob Spence replaces Marc Orlando as the Cats’ new offensive coordinator.  Spence has coordinator experience at both the FCS and FBS level.  Toledo, Hofstra, and Clemson enjoyed some of their most productive offensive seasons in school history under Spence’s guidance.  He inherits the second ranked FCS offense from a year ago, but the Cats still have much room for improvement.   The Wildcats averaged just 21 points against the MEAC’s top teams a year ago (14 vs. SCSU, 21 vs. NSU, 23 vs. Hampton, and 27 vs. FAMU).  That was 17 points lower than their season average of 38 points per game.  The Wildcats hope to increase their scoring output this year, specifically against upper echelon competition, under Spence’s leadership.

Autry Denson and Joe Dailey join Spence as new additions to the offensive coaching staff.  Denson, a former standout running back at Notre Dame and in the NFL, will coach the same position for the Wildcats.  Dailey, who started at quarterback for Nebraska before transferring to North Carolina, is listed as the new quarterbacks coach.  Allen Suber, Lawal McCray, and John Powers return as second year offensive assistants and will coach the wide receivers, tight ends, and offensive line respectively.

Earl Lane - BCU defensive line coach

New coaches on the defensive side of the ball include graduate assistant Buddy Collins and defensive line coach Earl Lane.  While Collins is a coaching neophyte, Lane brings with him a wealth of coaching experience and a proven record of accomplishment.  Lane served as defensive line coach for LSU during their 2007 BCS Championship season. He helped Glenn Dorsey win the Lombardi, Outland, and Nagurski awards in that same season.  The remaining defensive coaches are the same as last year: Yogi Jones—defensive coordinator and linebackers, Terry Sims—special teams’ coordinator and secondary, Terry Williams—defensive backs.

Old and young, sustained success and hot newcomers; the Wildcats’ coaching staff has it all.  Brian Jenkins will look to this diverse group of assistants to “coach up” his talented squad and hopefully deliver postseason success.

BCU to participate in 5 nationally televised games

The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) recently announced its 2011 television football schedule.  The ESPN Family of Networks will broadcast eight matchups involving MEAC opponents.  Bethune-Cookman will participate in five of the eight contest.

Date                      Game                        Network               Time                      Broadcast Time

Sun, 9/4               BCU v. Prairie View         ESPN                     Noon                   Live
Thu, 9/8                FAMU at Hampton         ESPNU                 7:30 p.m.             Live
Sat, 9/10              SCSU at BCU                 ESPNU                 4:00 p.m.             10:30 p.m.
Thu, 9/22             Hampton at BCU            ESPNU                 7:30 p.m.             Live
Sat, 9/24              MSU v. Howard               ESPNU                 3:30 p.m.             10:30 p.m.
Thu, 10/20            BCU at NSU                   ESPNU                 7:30 p.m.             Live
Sat, 10/22            FAMU at SCSU               ESPNU                 1:30 p.m.            10:30 p.m.
Sat, 11/19            FAMU v. BCU                 ESPN Classic         2:30 p.m.            Live

Click the following link to read more. 2011 MEAC Football Television Schedule

Early season schedules of MEAC’s elite add intrigue

‘Do you remember,
the 21st night of September.
Love was changing the minds of pretenders,
while chasing the clouds away.’

The funky lyrics from Earth, Wind, and Fire seem apropos for the four teams predicted to finish atop the MEAC football standings in 2011.  Most sports fans understand the correlation between momentum and confidence and  winning and losing.  They also understand that winning (and losing) can be as contagious as a funk band’s groovy beats.  South Carolina State, Bethune-Cookman, Florida A&M, and Hampton may find it  difficult to establish early season momentum as they all experience their toughest stretch of games at the kickoff of the 2011 campaign.  By the end of September, the league crown could be out of reach for one or more of these expected contenders.

bulldogsSouth Carolina State has the most difficult opening stretch of games.  The Bulldogs will be double-digit underdogs to FBS opponents Central Michigan (9/1) and Indiana (9/17).  Nestled between the two FBS contests is a matchup against Bethune-Cookman.  Buddy Pough’s Bulldogs are 29-1 vs. HBCU’s over the past three seasons.  The Wildcats handed the Bulldogs their lone HBCU defeat last year in Orangeburg.  SCSU conclude the month with a matchup versus new look and hopeful contender Delaware State.

The Wildcats of Bethune-Cookman opened last season with one-sided victories against undermanned Edward Waters and overmatched Savannah State.  This year’s early season competition is much tougher for Brian Jenkins’ squad.  The Wildcats will look to extend the MEAC’s 4-2 record in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge when they face SWAC power Prairie View A&M on the 4th. BCU finish their September schedule at home with contests against SCSU (9/10) and Hampton (9/22). 

pLike Bethune, Hampton kickoff their 2011 campaign versus a SWAC Opponent.  Hampton and Alabama A&M square off on September 3rd in the Chicago Football Classic.  The Pirates next three opponents,  FAMU (9/8), Old Dominion (9/17), and BCU (9/24), were 3-0 versus Donovan Rose’s team in 2010. 

fFlorida A&M face perhaps the easiest opening schedule of the top four teams from a year ago.  Division II Ft. Valley State visits Tallahassee on September 3rd.  FAMU will have a quick turnaround and play a Thursday night/ESPNU contest against Hampton on September 8th.  Big East title contender University of South Florida host Joe Taylor’s squad in Tampa on the 17th.  The Rattlers end the month against one of their old nemesis, Southern University (9/24).  FAMU should be favored over SU, but as the saying goes: “you can throw out all of the records in a rivalry game”. 

The top-heavy schedule of the MEAC’s elite may leave the door open for other squads looking to contend.  Morgan State can thank the schedule makers for leaving FAMU and SCSU off of their schedule.  Unlike the teams mentioned above, the Bears face their toughest stretch of games at the end of the season.  Norfolk State avoids FAMU this year and may have time to build confidence before facing South Carolina State, Delaware State, Hampton, and Bethune in the month of October.

The second full week of the season (the week ending Saturday, September 10th) may be the most pivotal in the race for conference supremacy.  Hampton host FAMU on Thursday (9/8) and SCSU travels to Daytona Beach to face BCU on Saturday (09/10).  These early season matchups will certainly cause a lot of “scoreboard watching” and should help quickly weed out the pretenders.  By the month’s end, some expected contenders may have their hopes dashed while others may be humming “ba-de-ya” and dancing in September.