Each week, Hail Wildcats will venture behind enemy lines and bring you insights from fans of Bethune-Cookman’s opponents.
This week, we hear from a Jackson State fan who is affectionately known as NastyD. Before you ask, the answer is “no”, we did not ask what the D stands for. The interesting moniker notwithstanding, NastyD is a passionate JSU fan, graduate and supporter who was kind enough to provide us with his insights on the Tiger program and this weekend’s matchup against our beloved Wildcats.
HW Question 1. Jackson State sported one of the nation’s top defenses (24.5 ppg) in 2018 but suffered through a less than stellar offensive campaign (16.5 ppg). Have there been any signs coming out of Fall camp that point to the defense maintaining their high standard and the offense improving?
“The defense will definitely maintain its dominance. We (JSU) finished 2nd in the SWAC in total defense with an offense that finished 9th overall. Just think how much better we would be as a football team when (not if) we start sustaining drives on offense. Regarding the offense, there have been many signs from Fall camp that suggest they should be much improved. The RBs were the strength of the team the past few years but now we finally guys at QB who (passed the ball) effectively throughout camp.
In addition to 4 star transfer QB Jalon Jones, we brought in two 4 star receivers, DD Bowie and Daniel Crowell, who both had strong camps. Not only that, we will run a RPO offense which better suits our personnel. We also upgraded our offensive coaching staff with additions like Ron Dickerson Jr (OC), TC Taylor (QB coach) and Otis Ridley (offensive line coach).”
HW Question 2. The University of Florida 4 star transfer, Jalon Jones, has a lot of hype surrounding him at the quarterback position. However, Derrick Ponder is the only guy at the position to start a college football game and Matt Little, Western Michigan transfer, is fighting for playing time as well. Two questions: (a) who is likely to be the primary signal caller come Sunday against Bethune; and (b) what do you anticipate from the quarterback position overall?
“Matt Little is no longer in the equation. However, JSU brought in a 3 star QB from the Memphis area named Quinn Casey who’s pushing both Ponder and Jalon for playing time. My thoughts are Ponder will start because he has more collegiate experience and a better grasp of the offense since he went through spring training, summer workouts, and fall camp but Ponder will be given a very short leash. Jalon will be the starter (in due time). Our offensive line is much improved which should benefit the quarterbacks. The QB position has been one of the reasons we have been unsuccessful the past few years. I feel (that position has been) addressed and it will be a strength this season.”
HW Question 3. Is there a player or perhaps a position on the field you expect to have a breakout year in 2019?
“I expect wide receivers Warren Newman and DD Bowie (Ole Miss transfer) to have breakout seasons. Jalon Jones will be newcomer of the year. On defense, 4 star recruit Demetrice Vance Jr will have a monster season at safety. And I expect mid year transfer Vincent McIntosh to have a breakout season at DT.”
HW Question 4. We all know sophomore Keonte Hampton is a stud at linebacker. For those MEAC and BCU fans who have only read about him, how good is Keonte and how high is his ceiling? Are there any other players on the defensive side of the ball you expect to shine and perform at a really high level?
Keonte Hampton is a gem. We are talking about a guy who completely balled out as a freshman last year and led the team in tackles. He has a knack for sniffing out the football and blowing up plays. He is a student of the game. We brought in a new strength and conditioning coach this season who has been absolutely phenomenal for the program. Keonte has put on more muscle so I’m excited to see how he wreaks havoc this season. Other guys to look out for on defense are Khalil Johnson and CJ Anderson on the defensive line and Ryan Theyard and CJ Holmes in the secondary.
HW Question 5. Answer the following, Jackson State will defeat Bethune-Cookman if …
Jackson State will beat BCU if the offense shows signs of improvement from last year. If we are able to get first downs (which I believe we will) and give the defense recovery time, there is no doubt we will win this game. People forget we beat teams like FAMU and Prairie View last season whom most thought were very dynamic offensively.
Cookman doesn’t perform well against teams with good defenses so my prediction is JSU 27 BCU 13.
A special thanks to NastyD for taking the time to provide his insights.