This will sound a little bonkers to you if you only casually followed Bethune-Cookman football through the first two weeks of the season but hear me out. Despite their 0-2 record and despite yielding 1,141 yards of total offense in those two games, Bethune-Cookman has shown me enough to believe they will fair well in SWAC play this season.
I fully admit I often see-through maroon and gold lens. Fair enough. But I am offering an objective analysis this time. I promise! I think!
So here goes my reasoning. I had a group chat rolling last Saturday evening during the UCF vs BCU game. It was the same group chat I had rolling when the Wildcats traveled to El Paso to face UTEP but I digress. There were three active football coaches in that chat. The exact quote from one of those coaches was “after 5 quarters of watching BCU this year, we can all agree that they are a good FCS football team.” They matched up well against UTEP from a size, speed and athleticism standpoint and there were several guys who really popped out against UCF as well.
Now admittedly, that chat thread grew awfully quiet by midway through the 2nd quarter of play against UCF, however, the thought process remains. I saw enough positive things and heard enough positive feedback from guys who know what they are talking about to feel pretty good about BCU Football as they enter the portion of the season that truly matters.
We won’t have to wait long before the Wildcats start to prove or disprove these assumptions.
Reigning HBCU National Champions Alabama A&M roll into Daytona stadium this Thursday evening in what will be Bethune-Cookman’s first ever SWAC conference contest. The Bulldogs head into the contest winners of seven straight including a 42-41 shootout against South Carolina State in Week One. Brian “Juice” Jenkins Jr., former Daytona Beach Mainland standout and son of former Wildcat head coach Brian Jenkins Sr. had a game high 112 yards receiving against South Carolina State. Cookman’s defense will have their hands full trying to slow down Jenkins, SWAC Offensive Player of the Year Aqeel Glass and Connell Maynor’s high octane offense.
Glass’ 426 yards passing and 4 touchdown tosses this season is almost identical to BCU talisman, Shannon Patrick’s 453 yards passing and 4 touchdowns. The glaring difference being Glass’ stats all came in one game compared to Patrick doing it over two. Granted, Patrick led his team against two FBS opponents including one that is headed to the Big 12. The playing field levels out beginning this week when the Wildcats begin a stretch run of 9 straight contests against FCS competition.
Alabama A&M’s undersized front seven surrendered 242 yards on the ground against SCSU. Meanwhile the Cats’ Que’shaun Byrd is averaging 6.7 yards per rushing attempt with a long of 68 yards this season. We fully expect the Wildcats will look to take advantage of Byrd’s playmaking ability and their size advantage in the trenches this week.
Defensive Coordinator Yogi Jones has shown great patience in sticking with a ton of shell coverage so far. I suppose you can say there has been a lot of “bend” in the defense. Unfortunately for the Wildcats and their “bend but don’t break” philosophy, the “but don’t break” part of the moniker has been absent from the D. Opponents have scored touchdowns on 11 of 13 Red Zone tries and the defense has only forced 5 punts this season. Ouch. The Wildcats have to find a way to limit the Bulldogs to kicking situations. Maybe that comes through pressuring Glass and forcing punts. Maybe that comes by forcing field goal tries once inside the Red Zone. Either way, Cookman’s defense has to find a way to slow down this Bulldog offense.
In addition to Byrd proving himself as a reliable playmaker, pass catchers Darryl Powell Jr., Marcus Riley and Kemari Averett have all proven to be matchup problems. Bethune-Cookman should not have many issues moving the ball against the Bulldogs. It will be critical that the Wildcats finish drives with touchdowns because I believe the first team to score 38 wins this contest.
I also believe this is an excellent opportunity for Terry Sims’ men to plant their flag and remind the HBCU World that the Wildcats are 8-0 against SWAC competition since 2006. We think…I repeat think Bethune-Cookman is a good football team. We will follow up on that assumption in less than 72 hours. See you all at 7:30pm, Thursday, September 16th at Daytona Stadium.
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