My uncle T-Bird use to tell me that there is nothing more humbling to a man than getting his tail whipped. I am not certain if the same prevailing wisdom holds true for football teams, but if does then Rod Reed’s Tennessee State Tigers delivered a face full of humble pie to Ms. Mary’s boys in Daytona Beach this past Saturday.
The Litmus Test
This matchup was BCU’s litmus test. This was the game BCU could announce to the FCS world that they were ready to compete on a national level. It was the first time in the Brian Jenkins era that the Wildcats faced a school from a FCS automatic qualifier (AQ) conference during the regular season. The only other matchup against an out-of-conference AQ foe during that timeframe ended in a 45-20 beatdown at the hands of New Hampshire in the 2010 playoffs. But that was Coach Jenkins’ first year at the helm. MEAC Offensive Player of the Year Matt Johnson was injured that game and so were half of his teammates. This is a new team! A new year! A new moment! Right? Unfortunately for BCU, it was Tennessee State who announced “their coming out party”. The Fighting Wildcats were left licking their wounds and searching for answers.
Losing a game against a quality team like Tennessee State is no reason to panic but the manner in which the Wildcats loss was disconcerting. TSU’s offensive and defensive lines physically beat-up Bethune’s units. I hope this was more the result of one of those “on any given Saturday” moments as opposed to BCU simply not being able to match the physicality of a quality team from an FCS playoff bound conference.
No yeah buts, but…
Let me be very clear about this: Tennessee State was the better team on Saturday. They had a better game plan, they executed better, and they flat out deserved to win. No excuses. Tennessee State beat Bethune-Cookman on the field of play. There is your disclaimer but the point has to be made. TSU’s performance against BCU this past Saturday was very reminiscent of North Carolina A&T’s defeat over the Wildcats a year ago. The game plans were very similar (load the box on defense and force BCU to beat you throwing the ball–and on offense run the ball straight at the BCU defense); but more interestingly the game play was similar. The Wildcats struggled with the physicality of both TSU and NCA&T. Ironically, BCU faced TSU this year and NCA&T last year the week after playing the University of Miami. Maybe TSU and NCA&T matchup well against BCU from a personnel and/or schematic standpoint. Or maybe, and I do stress maybe, there is something to be said about playing a bigger, stronger, faster and deeper Miami team a week prior. No matter how strong-willed and well-conditioned you are, playing against a top flight FBS school like Miami has to take a little extra out of you. Again, it’s not an excuse…..I’m just saying.
Oh and for the record, BCU went on to win 6 straight after losing to the Aggies a year ago. Hopefully the Wildcats can rest, recover, and start a similar streak beginning this Saturday against Hampton.
He told us so
Coach Brian Jenkins tried to warn anyone who would listen that his team’s slow starts would eventually do them in if not corrected. The Wildcats started slowly again this past Saturday and the ole ball coach turned out to be dead-on. The Blue Tigers jumped out to a three-touchdown 2nd quarter lead and never relented. It looked like BCU might overcome their second 21-0 deficit of the year after scoring 2 touchdowns with less than 90 seconds remaining in the 2nd quarter, but that was as close as BCU would get as both teams failed to score in the second half.
BCU will look to end their 2 game skid when facing off against Hampton in Virginia this Saturday at 6:00.