So this interesting thing happened this past Sunday. A fellow Wildcat sent a group text message saying he had this crazy dream Bethune-Cookman lost to Savannah State 16-10 in overtime Saturday night. I mustered up a laugh after reading the message and quickly replied I had the same wild dream. But no matter how hard we tried to deny the obvious, there it was staring right back at us. Our beloved Wildcats had fallen to the Tigers and were 0-3.
Shocking! Shameful! What type of sorcery was this? Who saw this coming? I didn’t.
I guess that’s why the friendly texts meant so much Sunday morning. It was the best way us diehards could cope in our time of crisis. I am happy to say we all stayed far away from bridges and sharp objects for the requisite 48 hours.Everyone is accounted for so I suppose we’re now ready to talk about it.
Let’s start by saying congratulations to Savannah State for earning the victory and breaking the 16 year drought against the Wildcats. As much as I hated seeing my team lose, that small part of me that’s a pure sportsman at heart says kudos to the winning team. I mean how can you not be a little happy for a team whose last win over the opponent came 2 months before Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas was nominated as the 42nd President of the United States of America. That’s crazy son! Craazzyyy!!!
It begs the question though: ‘what in the world is going on in Daytona?’ The Wildcat fan base has gotten use to winning and they aren’t handling the loss to SSU very well. I mean, Florida doesn’t lose to Kentucky; FSU doesn’t lose to Wake Forest and Bethune-Cookman doesn’t lose to Savannah State……well I suppose we do now but you get the point. What does all of this mean?
2016 was not supposed to be a rebuilding year. We were supposed to be contenders this year. Could this mean we are witnessing Bethune’s recent dynasty come to an end? Is there enough talent on this team to turn things around? What about the coaching staff? Are they resting on yesteryear’s laurels? Do they have the capability to scheme up, coach up, and correct the issues that have this team stumbling to a lackluster start?
No, I am not jumping ship but I am mad. I am worried. I am concerned. We praise our team when they play well and we speak the truth when they under-perform. We do this not because we’re fickle fans but because we want to see the young men who strap it up for the maroon and gold preserve the legacy!
Okay, okay let me calm down! It’s going to be alright. Let’s take this slow shall we.
The first obvious observation is that it is far too early in this cycle to declare Bethune’s recent dynasty has come to an end. No Division 1 HBCU program has had more wins since the beginning of this decade. Dynasties are indicative of year to year success so let’s just press pause on this one.
Bill Parcells once famously said “you are what your record says you are.” The Greek translation of that statement is this is not a good football team right now. Sure we’re only three games into the season but the problems that have Terry Sims and his team gawking at 0-3 will not magically disappear on there own. There are major concerns with this team right now specifically on the offensive side of the ball.
The offensive play calling and scheme is unimaginative. The offensive line play has been somewhere between shaky to bad. The wide receivers have had far too many drops and quarterback play has been underwhelming. That’s not negativity. It’s the truth. Any coach who says otherwise is cheating his players.
BCU is dead last in the conference in passing offense averaging just 97passing yards per game. Comparatively, they are averaging 95 yards per game in penalties. When the difference between your total passing yards and penalty yards is a net 2 yards, you’re going to have a hard time winning football games. Yes I said a net of 2 yards. That simply is not good enough.
To be fair, the only experienced quarterback Bethune have on its roster is Larry Brihm and he got injured halfway through Game 2 against Tennessee State. Additional, All-MEAC Preseason 1st team selectee Michael Jones has been out all year with an injury. Perhaps the return of Brihm and/or Jones will provide the offense with a much needed jolt.
The defense has been good enough. The defensive line is growing week in and week out and secondary play has been pretty good as well. Diquan Richardson has been a maniac at safety flying all around the field making plays.
There is still time to recover from the slow start and this squad is talented enough to do so. But the improvement must happen immediately as the Cats enter the toughest stretch of their schedule with matchups against North Carolina Central, South Carolina State and North Carolina A&T in the next three weeks. Win all three and you are still on course to reach the goal of playing in the Celebration Bowl; lose 2 or more of the next three and…….well there is always next season. Let’s hope for the former.