Stay in the Moment is more than just coach talk. If you have followed Bethune-Cookman football with any degree of regularity over the past three seasons then surely you have heard Coach Brian Jenkins repeat the phrase ‘stay in the moment’. This may appear on the surface to be just more sports jargon, but the resiliency of the 2012 Fighting Wildcats suggests they fully believe in the mantra.
The Wildcats registered impressive victories in Week 1 and Week 2 of the season after trailing by 21 and 14 points respectively. But it is not just overcoming the slow starts that is adding credence to the ‘stay in the moment’ philosophy. BCU has endured a rash of untimely penalties while in scoring position as well as turnovers setting up great field position for their opponents. Yet the Wildcats have been able to keep their focus, not panic and persevere; or more plainly stated, ‘STAY IN THE MOMENT’.
The kickoff and punt return units still needs some tweaking. In this past Saturday’s contest against South Carolina State, the Cats used a fumble recovery touchdown on special teams to turn the momentum of game. Unfortunately for Bethune-Cookman, they are still having trouble producing any kind of spark with other aspects of their special teams units, kickoff returns and punt returns being chief among them. The Wildcats are averaging just 4.8 yards per punt return (19 yards total through 2 games) and rank last in the conference in kickoff return average at just 12.4 yards per return. BCU has not registered a kickoff or punt return TD since the 2010 season.
The new defensive regulars are filling in nicely. We expected solid production from DJ Howard, Harold Love, Jarkevis Fields and other returning defensive starters/regulars. But one of the off-season question marks was how productive the host of new defensive regulars would be; and how long would it take them to make a positive impact. As a unit, the defense has held opponents to just 7 total points after the 1st quarter. First year starting safety Nick Addison is tied for the team lead in tackles (14) and UCF transfer LeBrandon Richardson leads the team in sacks (4). Linebackers Nesly Marcellon and Dawud Lane and defensive end Markeil Floyd have also been very productive through the first two contests.
This team has an opportunity to be exceptionally good. We are not yet a quarter of the way through the season and BCU has not come close to playing a complete game on either side of the ball thus far. Even still the Beach Cats scored convincing victories over two very good football teams in Alabama State and South Carolina State respectively. Offensively the rushing attack is as good as it has been in the Brian Jenkins era; both Jackie Wilson and Brock Waters seem capable at the quarterback position; the offensive line is experienced and huge; and Eddie Poole, KJ Stroud, and David Blackwell make up as good of a trio of wide-receivers as you’ll find in the conference. Defensively the Wildcats have been phenomenal after the first quarter of games allowing just 7 total points in the 2nd quarter and 0 points after halftime. If the Cats can find a way to get off to better starts and eliminate some of the penalties, this team can not only win a MEAC title but also a few playoff games. But I suppose that I should not look that far ahead and just “Stay in the Moment”.
Next up for Bethune-Cookman is a Saturday match-up against perennial power the University of Miami . Kickoff is scheduled for noon.