It has been more than 48 hours since the debacle at Aggie Stadium and it is still difficult to accept the fact that North Carolina A&T did not just win against Bethune-Cookman, but they dominated the Wildcats in the process.
Any analysis of this game has to begin with a tip of the cap to Coach Rod Broadway, his coaching staff, and the NCA&T football team. In the words of Brian Jenkins: “it was a good old-fashion butt-whooping”.
The Aggies dominated BCU in every facet of the game. Despite having half the number of scholarship players (33 for NCA&T compared to 60+ for BCU), riding a 7 game losing streak against BCU, and losing 67-17 to the Wildcats a year ago on national TV; NCA&T was the better team on Saturday afternoon. The gameplan was simple for the Aggies; run the ball on offense and take away the run on defense. The result was a 22-3 woodshed beating in which NCA&T accumulated 224 yards rushing on 50 attempts; while BCU limped its way to 5 yards rushing on 25 attempts.
The Wildcats entered the contest as the conference’s top ranked offensive unit; however, NCA&T limited the Wildcats to just 108 yards of Total Offense outgaining the Cats by a 3:1 margin in the process (330 yards of Total Offense for NCA&T).
Earlier this season, NCA&T was dismantled 58-6 by Appalachian State and beaten handily by Coastal Carolina 31-14. However, Rod Broadway’s bunch is gaining confidence and improving weekly. The Aggies have won their last two games by a combined score of 46-6.
Brian Jenkins’ team has amassed at least 10 penalties for 100 yards in each contest this season. The Wildcats accumulated 15 penalties for 112 yards in Saturday’s contest against NCA&T. In fact, BCU actually had more penalty yards than offensive yards in the game. The timing and nature of the penalties are even more troubling then the excessive number of penalties.
Take the Aggies second possession of the second half as an example. The Wildcat defense held the Aggies for what should have been a second straight “3 and out”. However, on 4th down and 3 on the Aggie side of the field, the Wildcats’ punt return unit was flagged for a ‘neutral zone’ infraction. The penalty gave the Aggies a 1st and 10, allowed them to take over 6 minutes off of the clock, and ultimately led to an Aggie 24 yard FG and 15-3 advantage with little over 2 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. These sorts of careless, mental lapses have plagued the Wildcats all season and proved to be too much to overcome against a determined A&T squad.
But it was not just the penalties that doomed the Wildcats. The offensive line did not block well, the receivers dropped too many passes including a certain touchdown, the quarterbacks did not deliver the ball to open receivers, the defense did not consistently get off blocks, and there were a few critical game management decisions by the coaching staff that were cause for curiosity. It was an all around apathetic and underwhelming performance by the BCU football team and coaching staff.
One team was fully prepared and ready for a 60-minute war, the other was going through the motions and hoping for something good to happen. Only this time it never did.
Brian Jenkins’ ball club produced a similarly lackluster effort last year against Howard University. In that contest, the undermanned Bison outgained BCU on offense 389 yards to 196 yards but 2 defensive scores and a special teams touchdown proved to be the difference for BCU. The Wildcats were unable to produce any defensive touchdowns against the Aggies; however, BCU’s lone points of the afternoon were set-up by a DJ Howard 27 yard interception return.
Part of the maturation process
Coach Jenkins stated that North Carolina A&T was better prepared and more determined than his squad. A quick review of the game stats seems to support this assertion. Most teams seem to have one or two bad games throughout the course of a football season, but you cannot simply give the Wildcats a mulligan for their performance against the Aggies.
The coaching staff must assume responsibility for the team’s unpreparedness. Brian Jenkins regularly emphasizes attention to detail and ball security; yet his team’s continual struggles in these areas were prominently on display in Aggie Stadium this weekend (15 penalties for 112 yards and 4 turnovers including 3 in the 4th quarter).
Perhaps the most head scratching coaching moment of the afternoon came on BCU’s first possession of the second half. Trailing by 9 points (12-3) with slightly more than 10 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, BCU found themselves facing a 4th down and 5 from the Aggie 22 yard line. Instead of kicking an intermediate-range field goal and making it a one-possession contest, coach Jenkins elected to go for the first down. Wide Receiver Maurice Francois was stopped a yard short of the marker and the Wildcats failed to convert. The Aggies seemed to seize full control of the contest from that point forward.
The Wildcats (2-3) return home this week and will look to break their current 2-game losing streak when they faceoff against struggling DII opponent Fort Valley State (1-5) in the first annual Biker Classic. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:00. Game attendees can receive a free (visitor’s side) game ticket with the purchase of a $10 band t-shirt. Click the picture below for more details.