HAILWILDCATS.COM Homecoming 2k13 Photo Gallery

WILDCAT NATION

We the staff at Hailwildcats.com would like to show our gratitude and extend a warm thank you  for the support shown this past homecoming weekend, it was truly a memorable weekend, one that couldn’t have happened without YOU.

Once again thank you and please join us in viewing the sights of Homecoming 2k13!

Hailwildcats.com Staff

What to watch for at the Wildcats’ Spring Game

The 2012 Spring Game will be played on April 21st at 4:00 p.m. at Municipal Stadium

In less than 72 hours, the maroon and gold faithful will receive their first glimpse at the 2012 version of the Fighting Wildcats.

I must admit that the actual Spring Game means very little in the grand scheme of things.  Coaches only install a fraction of their offensive and defensive systems during Spring drills, the starters receive fewer reps than they normally would during the regular season, and half of this year’s recruiting class have yet to even graduate from high school.   However, the Spring game is the best and only real football-like barometer that we can use to measure our favorite football squads in late April.

So with that disclaimer, here are some of the players and positions that I will be paying keen attention to during Saturday’s glorified scrimmage.

Anthony Jordan (Running Back) —  The 230 pound bruiser from North Atlanta High School led the squad with 9 rushing touchdowns last season.  He has been one of the most raved about players in Spring drills this year.  Jordan, who  has an exceptional work ethic, is trying to prove to the coaching staff that he can be more than just a short yardage back.

Lavon McCoy (Offensive Guard) —   BIG Lavon McCoy; and by BIG I mean almost 400 pounds BIG, was a highly touted prospect with offers from USC, Oregon, and the University of Washington coming out of high school.  He is one of those players that Coach Jenkins has mentioned that we’re very fortunate to have.  Last year, McCoy played exclusively on the defensive side of the ball.  He demonstrated very good foot work and quickness at defensive tackle.  This year he is moving to the offensive side of the ball and is expected to play offensive guard.  His Junior College highlight film shows him playing both defensive tackle and offensive guard.  McCoy looks great as a defensive tackle prospect but even better as an offensive guard.  It will be interesting to see how productive McCoy can be against FCS competition.

Tavarus Dantzler (Linebacker) — Tavarus Dantzler has been penciled in as the next big thing at linebacker for the Wildcats.  He has good size at 6’3″, 230 lbs, but his game is built on speed.  Dantzler can flat out fly.  Defensive Coordinator Yogi Jones has stated that he believes Dantzler can be a very special player and an all conference performer.  Let’s hope that Dantzler rises to the occasion and fulfill his potential.

Defensive Line Ryan Davis was simply the best defensive player in HBCU football last year.  I am not quite sure that one player will be able to fill the void left by Davis’ departure.  Instead, the Wildcat defensive front may look to maintain last year’s productivity levels by committee.  Harold Love, Anthony Woodard, and Tevin Toney all had very good campaigns last year.  Erik Williams rejoins Coach Earl Lane’s defensive unit after being sidelined with an injury a season ago.  Brandon Bryant and LeBranden Richardson are UCF transfers who will look to have an impact on the defensive line as well.

Jim Pry (Offensive Coordinator) — Okay, so we will not be able to make any legitimate or rational assessments about new offensive coordinator, Jim Pry’s, play calling after Saturday’s contest.  But what I hope to see is Pry’s influence on the passing game; and how the quarterbacks and receivers are understanding the principles of Pry’s passing attack.  Pry is a disciple of the vertical passing game.  His route combinations are not stagnant or predefined.  Instead, receivers have options on each route (think Mike Leach and the Air Coryell offenses).

Quarterback —  Jackie Wilson ended last season with a 66% completion rate and showed tremendous growth as the Wildcats primary signal caller.  But Wilson is not a shoe-in to be the starting quarterback in 2012.  Former Florida Mr. Football, Quentin Williams, is competing with Wilson and Broadrick Waters (La Tech transfer) to be Brian Jenkins’ trigger-man come September.

A Candid Conversation with Coach Brian Jenkins

Coach Brian Jenkins speaks with reporters after his team's 26-16 victory in the Florida Classic

Bethune-Cookman University head coach Brian Jenkins just concluded his second season at the helm of the Wildcat football program.  The Wildcats followed up a remarkable 10-2 season in Jenkins’ first year with an 8-3 overall record and a 2nd place finish in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.  Through 23 games, Jenkins has won 18, compiling an impressive .783 winning percentage for the Daytona Beach, FL institution.  While wins and losses are important to every coach, Jenkins’ real testament has been in the way his players have performed off the field.  Since his arrival, graduation rates have improved and players have become a mainstay in the community, forging a strong relationship with the Daytona Beach, FL community and surrounding areas.

On Thursday,  HailWildcats.com contributor Bradford Gillens and I had the pleasure of speaking to Coach Jenkins via conference call on everything from his rating of the team’s performance this past season to his prediction of this year’s Liberty Bowl. (Jenkins is a 1993 graduate of U. of Cincinnati and the Bearcats take on Vanderbilt in this year’s game).

Questions and Answers:

 
Assess your team’s performance this season, what grade would you give and why?  How about yourself; assess your own coaching performance.  What grade would you give yourself and why.

“I would give us a B.  We started out OK…then got flat mid-way and got punched in the mouth.  Once we got punched in the mouth we finished strong and I really thought an injustice was done by not selecting us for the playoffs….but you know, sometimes God sends you things for you to learn for the future…(the snub) taught us that you can’t stumble and slip up.”

On his coaching grade…

“I would give myself a B or B-.  I think some things contributed to us going flat.  One of the #1 things I did after the (North Carolina) A&T game was evaluate myself and correct some things I was doing…then I went back and looked at the coaching staff, then we went to the kids. I think I did a decent job of not panicking and letting the floodgates open and as a result we were able to finish the season with six straight wins.”

This season, the offense employed more of a “ground and pound” attack with your stable of runningbacks, which was a stark contrast to the vaunted Speedway offense we saw last year.  Was that a philosophical change due to the departure of Danny Barrett and Mark Orlando and arrival of Rob Spence, or simply a result of you tailoring the offense to the strengths of your personnel?

“It was definitely tailored to the strength of our personnel.  It’s the same offense we ran last year with just a tweak here and there.  Every year I’ve been in this offense we’ve always had a decent running game.  It wasn’t a change in philosophy, it also goes to show people we can do both.  We can run the ball when needed and pass when needed.  So that should definitely help us going into year three.”

What happened with Jamarr Robinson?  He began the season in impressive fashion against Prairie View, but by mid-season was relegated to the #3 QB on the roster?  Why didn’t we see more of him the second half of the season?

“Well Jamarr got a serious injury that takes such a long time to recover from.  Every time we would put him back in the game to try to give him some reps he would re-injure himself.  He suffered from turf toe in both feet and as a result it reduced his role a little bit.  Luckily for us David (Blackwell) and Jackie (Wilson) were able to step up in his absence and play at a high level for us.”

Ryan Davis was selected as the MEAC Defensive Player of the Year following a stellar senior season but was probably over shadowed this preseason by other Wildcats.  What do you attribute to Davis having such a breakout year?

“Definitely his work ethic, attitude, knowing his role, accepting coaching; anything a star player would contain, he had it and did it.  I think he finally figured out his craft at the DE spot and he said “Hey I’m gonna give it everything I got so when I hang this Wildcat hat up, I’ll know I gave it my all.  I know he’ll tell you he would not have been able to play at that level if the other 10 guys on the defense weren’t performing at a high level as well.”

Talk about the play of Ryan Lewis and Reggie Sandilands.   What have they meant to this team since you’ve been here?

“Very solid, experienced players.  Very sound, even though people were not thinking their name were getting called a lot.  Those kids brought a lot to our team and conference, but both of those guys are really, really sound.  Just to show you how good of kids they are, one is graduating in December (Sandilands) and the other is on pace to graduate in May (Lewis).  You can’t say enough about guys like that.”

On how he feels about them…

“Very proud, because it allows me to know that the message me and the coaching staff are preaching is getting through to them.  It also lets me know that they take pride in being a part of the bloodline and vision Mrs. Mary McLeod Bethune set forth during the inception of the university.  I told those guys, when your playing days are done, your names will fall amongst the likes of Larry Little because of the type of career had here and the type of men you have become.  When I look at the way they have responded on the field, in the classroom, and in the community it let’s me know that they really believe that there is something special about being a Cookman Man”

There hasn’t been a MEAC team advance past the first round in an FCS Playoff game since 1999.  Whereas you have an upstart program like Old Dominion who in 3 years has produced more playoff victories than every school in the MEAC except FAMU, SCSU and NC A&T.  What are your thoughts on what the conference can do to improve their chances of victory in the postseason?

“The first thing we have to do is get more than one team in.  Anytime you have a conference that’s putting four and five teams in the playoffs every year, they’re gonna have a chance at more victories.  I think the teams with the best records should be selected to the playoffs regardless of conference affiliation.”

On Old Dominion’s rise to power in such a short while:

“A school like ODU has progressed really fast, but again you have to look at their conference. They play in the CAA and that conference historically gets 4-5 teams in the playoffs every year.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t play with them.  A team from our conference (Hampton) took them to the wire in the beginning of the season (45-42 loss)….what we have to do is schedule teams like that through the year and beat those teams in the regular season, if we can do that we’ll see things take a turn for the better for the MEAC.”

On the MEAC’s perception among other conferences

“I don’t think college football respects our conference…if you look at the coaches we have in this conference, they’ve put together really good programs. Why college football doesn’t respect our conference is beyond me, I just don’t understand it.”

On FCS Playoffs being compared to BCS

“You know, I never understood what Boise State was feeling until this season when we were passed up for the playoffs.  This year you got two teams in that were 7-4…and neither of those teams beat teams that were at the top of their conference.  I think some things need to be re-evaluated or looked at.  We (MEAC) definitely need to have more than one team in the playoffs.”

Are you still upset about your team’s playoff snub?  How well do you believe your team would have matched up against this year’s playoff participants?

“I feel we would’ve matched up very strongly. No disrespect to any playoff teams, but we would’ve come away with some victories in the playoffs this season.  We were healthy unlike last year, we had some depth unlike last year, and we would’ve gone into this game with our best team to achieve victory.  I was really looking forward to having an opportunity to prove that we deserved to be in the playoff field.”

What are some of the immediate needs B-CU needs to address in order to get back to their championship form of 2010?

“Defensively we’re losing Ryan Davis, Ryan Lewis, and Reggie Sandilands.  We’re also losing Jean Fanor, who’s just as good as any safety in the conference.  So it’s definitely a task trying to replace those guys.  That’s kind of like all your stallions have run and won all the races they can run for you and you have to let them go free.”

Can you provide a general overview of your offseason calendar?

“Work, work, work, work, and more work.  First in the classroom, second in the community, and third in the weight room.  We do have a calendar because we’re very structured and detailed here…so we’ll evaluate ourselves very strongly going into spring practice.  Take it into spring and correct and recover.  Then we’ll get a chance to get in and evaluate some young talent.”

When does spring football begin?

“We never really have a set date.  Our guys have to earn the right to participate in spring football.   There are certain tests our guys have to go through in order to practice spring football.  I’ve been around coaching for a very long time.  Sometimes I think players lose sight of the fact that football is a privilege, not a right, therefore you need to work to get that gift and not take it lightly.  Our guys will forever be grateful and be humble for the opportunity to play football at the Great Bethune-Cookman University.”

Looks like your alma mater drew Vanderbilt in the Liberty Bowl.  Do you still follow the Bearcats on a weekly basis, and if you do, what is your prediction of the game?

“I follow as much as I can.  I don’t get back to support them as much as I’d like.  A good friend of mine and godfather of my son, Tim Banks, is the co-Defensive Coordinator there and I’m supporting what he’s doing.  The head coach (Butch Jones) has the program going in the right direction.  You don’t hear about the players getting arrested or doing foolish things.  That’s how you know he has them headed on the right path.  Coach Franklin is also doing a great job at Vanderbilt.”

Coach thank you for that long winded answer but you still never made a prediction.  Who are you going with in the game Cincinnati or Vanderbilt?

“(Laughs) I see you caught on to me there.  I thought by giving you a long answer where I talked good about both schools I would get out of having to choose one of them.  I’m going with the Bearcats to win and I know this is gonna come back to get me because I’m gonna see James (Franklin) at the coaches convention and I’m gonna have to buy dinner or something if that does happen.”

You created quite a buzz with those new helmets.  Did you have any idea that the fans would react so favorably to the head gear?  Who designed the helmets?  You now have 75 uniform combinations.  I’ve heard some call BCU the Oregon/Maryland of the HBCU world with all of the uniform combinations.  Who will decide which uniforms will be worn in each game next season?  Can we expect any new alterations to the uniforms and/or head gear next season?

“I told my wife that these helmets might be my tombstone if they don’t go right.  It kept the traditional colors, but brought some freshness and newness to the program…very happy it all worked out.  And I tell you what; it kind of gave us some juice as a team.  We brought out the first (maroon and gold) ones against Morgan St. (49-23) and we had a big win and the second set (black) we wore in the Florida Classic (26-16 over FAMU). 

There is still more (uniform changes) to come”

On the chief designer of the helmets

“I designed the helmets.”

On B-CU the Oregon/Maryland of the HBCU world with all of the uniform combinations…

“I’m starting to hear that and that’s OK with me.  Anything we can take from good programs and use for ourselves we’ll definitely take that.  I don’t think that’s a bad tag to have.”

On who will decide which uniform combinations will be worn in each game next season…

“We have a Leadership committee selected with a group of young men from every class.  They select the uniforms they want to wear.  In order for that selection to take place, they have to perform in the classroom and have no violations during the week.”

How rewarding was it for you to win your first Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida Classic this season?

“It was very rewarding.  Anytime you can beat a high caliber team like FAMU it’s very rewarding.  Especially knowing last year you had ‘em on the ropes and had ‘em staggered and they come back and got you.  It was also good for me to go up against a coaching legend such as Joe Taylor and I will always consider it to be a bright spot in my coaching career.”

Coach we’re 13 days away from your two year anniversary as the head coach of Bethune-Cookman.  What stands out as the thing you are most proud of accomplishing in that time period?

“The off the field success, man.  The culture change by our young men, graduation rate of our athletes…and they’re not just getting bachelor’s degrees they’re attaining master’s degrees as well.  Last year I had two graduates from the Master’s program, this year I have eight.  I tell the guys all the time as long as we take care of things off the field, everything on the field will fall into place.”

“I also want to thank you guys for all of the hard work that you do covering Bethune-Cookman University football.  You guys do a first class job with your sites and continue to put the word out about all of the good things we’re doing here, so thank you guys again.”

Cats fall 26-18 to SCSU–Recap

SC State QB Derrick Wiley

Chances are you won’t notice Darius Dummond’s 45 and 33 yard punt returns if you’re reviewing the game’s box score.  But a frustrated Brian Jenkins revealed in his post-game press conference that the “two plays that won (South Carolina State) the game were (Drummond’s) two punt returns”. 

The Bulldogs scored their first touchdown of the season three plays after Drummond’s 45 yard punt return midway through the 3rd quarter.  Tyler McDonald caught an 8 yard touchdown pass from Richard Cue who replaced Derrick Wiley on the drive.  It was Cue’s first completion as a college quarterback.  Drummond’s final punt return of the day (for 33 yards) gave the Bulldogs 1st and goal from the Wildcat’s 5 yard line. SCSU capitalized on the outstanding field position and scored the go-ahead touchdown on a Derrick Wiley QB keeper with 4:46 remaining in the 4th quarter.

Dominique Ellis padded South Carolina State’s lead 46 seconds later when he returned Jamarr Robinson’s third interception of the contest 55 yards for a touchdown.  Bethune drove the ball 48 yards to the Bulldog 5 yard line but the possession stalled on downs.

Missed Opportunites

  • QB Jamarr Robinson threw 4 interceptions in the contest, 2 of which occurred in the redzone.  The Wildcats were 1 of 4 in redzone opportunites on the afternoon.  BCU turned the ball over 7 times in total (4 ints, 1 loss fumble, twice on downs).  The Cats also racked up 10 penalties for 100 yards. 
  •  BCU safety DJ Howard dropped a certain interception midway through the 3rd quarter.  A wall of blockers were setup in front of Howard, but what could have been a BCU pick 6 ended as a SCSU score.  Howard’s pass deflection bounced into the hands of Tyler McDonald resulting in a Bulldog touchdown.
  • Sven Hurd, who was 9-9 in extra point attempts coming into the contest, missed his first extra point attempt of the afternoon. 
  • BCU could not capitalize on a great showing by its defense.  The Wildcat defense held the Bulldogs to 54 yards passing, 211 total yards, and produced 5 turnovers.  Thanks to their Special Teams, SCSU’s offense scored 2 touchdowns covering 11 yards and 5 yards respectively.  The Bulldog defense accounted for an additional touchdown (Dominique Ellis’ 55 yard interception return) as well as a defensive safety. 

Click the following link to watch a replay of the game: http://espn.go.com/espn3/index?id=312532065

Team Stat Comparison

 
 

S Carolina St

 

Bethune-Cook.

1st Downs 12 24
Total Yards 211 397
Passing 54 245
Rushing 157 152
Penalties 10-103 10-100
3rd Down Conversions 6-15 5-15
4th Down Conversions 1-1 0-2
Turnovers 5 5
Possession 24:14 35:46
 

Passing Leaders

 
South Carolina State C/ATT YDS AVG TD INT
Wiley 7/19 46 2.4 0 2
 
Bethune-Cookman C/ATT YDS AVG TD INT
Robinson 25/45 245 5.4 2 4
 

Rushing Leaders

 
South Carolina State CAR YDS AVG TD LG
Wiley 19 121 6.4 1 45
Jordan 12 38 3.2 0 11
 
Bethune-Cookman CAR YDS AVG TD LG
Jackson 17 92 5.4 0 25
Scott 9 38 4.2 0 15
 

Receiving Leaders

 
South Carolina State REC YDS AVG TD LG
McDonald 2 23 11.5 1 15
Williams 2 14 7.0 0 10
 
Bethune-Cookman REC YDS AVG TD LG
Francois 7 121 17.3 0 40
Poole 9 74 8.2 1 44
 

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTER SCST COOK
  SF 11:50 Isidore Jackson Tackled By Ronell Ferguson In End Zone 2 0
  FG 10:12 Blake Erickson 48 Yd 5 0
  TD 07:53 Eddie Poole 44 Yd Pass From Jamarr Robinson (Pat Failed) 5 6
SECOND QUARTER SCST COOK
  SF 13:39 – Team Tackled By Eddie Poole In End Zone 5 8
THIRD QUARTER SCST COOK
  TD 07:20 Tyler McDonald 8 Yd Pass From Richard Cue (Blake Erickson Kick) 12 8
  TD 02:46 Jordan Murphy 12 Yd Pass From Jamarr Robinson (Sven Hurd Kick) 12 15
FOURTH QUARTER SCST COOK
  FG 10:51 Sven Hurd 41 Yd 12 18
  TD 04:46 Derrick Wiley 3 Yd Run (Blake Erickson Kick) 19 18
  TD 04:00 Dominique Ellis 55 Yd Interception Return (Blake Erickson Kick) 26 18
 

Cats and Dogs

Frazier versus Ali; that’s the way Coach Brian Jenkins described this weekend’s conference showdown with powerhouse South Carolina State. The two squads enter the contest as the #1 and #2 ranked teams in the Sheridan Broadcasting Network’s Black College Football Poll. The winner of this heavyweight matchup will emerge as the clear frontrunner to this year’s MEAC crown. The loser will find themselves “scoreboard watching” and wishing for help over the weeks to come.

Brian Jenkins’ club ended SCSU’s 21-game conference win streak last year and was the first MEAC squad to blank the Bulldogs at home in over 30 years.

Previewing the Dogs

Buddy Pough’s Bulldogs have grown unaccustomed with losing over recent years. Take last week’s defeat against Central Michigan (CMU) as an example. SCSU lost by 15 points, on the road against an FBS opponent. Most FCS schools would consider that a good showing; but not Bulldog fans. Many members of the “Dog pound” believe South Carolina State was good enough to win that game and Brian Jenkins tends to agree. In his weekly teleconference, Coach Jenkins stated that SCSU was three makeable plays away from pulling off the upset against CMU.

SCSU boasts one of the best defenses in FCS football (2nd in total defense in 2010). The Bulldog defense held CMU to 256 yards of total offense and 21 points last week. By comparison, BCU’s offense produced nearly double the yardage output (500 yards) and triple the points scored (63) against Prairie View in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge. South Carolina State has at least one all-conference performer at all three levels of their defense (Patrick Washington-DL, Donovan Richard-LB, Dominique Ellis-DB). Washington is an extremely athletic, havoc causing defensive lineman. His style of play is very similar to that of BCU defensive end, Ryan Davis. The Wildcat offense must account for Washington in both the running and passing game. Donovan Richard is an above average linebacker who possess great range and speed. He recorded 10 tackles (1 tackle for a loss) in last week’s defeat at CMU.

SCSU QB Derrick Wiley

On the offensive side of the ball, Derrick Wiley is a mobile quarterback who struggled with his accuracy a week ago. Wiley and the Bulldogs are without the services of wide receiver Lennel Elmore who is ineligible due to grades. Elmore led the Bulldogs in receiving and was an All-MEAC performer a year ago. The Dogs will depend upon Asheton Jordan (RB) and the running game to carry the load until the passing game gets on track. Jordan is a physical runner with decent speed. He’ll lineup behind an offensive line that featured four new starters and struggled to establish the line of scrimmage last week against CMU.

Blake Erickson is the place kicker and he gives the Bulldogs a decided advantage in the kicking game.

A Closer Look at the Wildcats

In spite BCU’s 49 point victory to open the season, there is still much room for improvement. QB, Jamarr Robinson racked up 281 yards of offense (251 passing and 30 rushing) and earned MVP honors at last week’s MEAC/SWAC Challenge. However, Robinson appeared to miss on a few reads in the passing game and was errant on several throws. The Wildcats also committed far too many penalties last week (12 penalties for 132 yards).

On a positive note, BCU’s offensive and defensive fronts dominated the line of scrimmage. Particularly impressive was the play of defensive tackles Harold Love, Jameil Farrington, and Lavon McCoy. Another impressive sight from last week’s contest was the quality of depth displayed by the Wildcats. Coach Jenkins seemingly rotated 3 or 4 players on every play, yet there was no noticeable drop off in talent.

Fighting like Cats and Dogs

Bethune’s offense versus South Carolina State’s defense is strength against strength. The outcome of this game will likely depend upon the play of the other units. Can the Bulldog offense effectively run the ball and limit the possessions of BCU’s high-powered offense? Will the Wildcat’s opportunistic defense force turnovers (6 takeaways last week) and short field situations? Which squad will ascend as the top team in black college football? We’ll have our answers to these questions when this highly anticipated matchup kickoff at 4:00, Saturday, September 10th at Municipal Stadium.

Can’t Wait!!!!

___________________________________________________________

 Interesting Notes

  • BCU ranked 1st in Total Offense and Scoring Offense in the MEAC last year.
  • SCSU ranked 1st in Total Defense and Scoring Defense in the conference.

Last 10 contests in the series—

  • BCU and SCSU are 5-5 in their last 10 meetings.

Recent Memorable Matchups —

  • 2005—SCSU QB Cleveland McCoy led the Bulldogs on a game winning 17 play, 80 yard 4th quarter touchdown drive to defeat the Wildcats 27-24 in Jacksonville.
  • 2006—After trailing by 14 points, Coach Alvin Wyatt scrapped the Wyatt-Bone offense in favor of a 4 wide receiver set. BCU scored 45 unanswered points and defeated the Bulldogs 45-21. BCU QB, Jarrod Rucker threw 5 touchdowns in that contest.
  • 2010—BCU defeated 14-0 in Orangeburg ending the Bulldog’s 21-game conference winning streak.

Coach ’em up

Football Factoid #480—a good assistant coach can be as valuable to a team as an All-American quarterback.  After all, the assistant coaches provide the bulk of the daily instruction, technique corrections, real-time feedback, game planning, and in-game adjustments.  Coach Brian Jenkins deserves a ton of credit for quietly assembling a staff of outstanding assistants at Bethune. 

New Offensive Coordinator Rob Spence

Rob Spence replaces Marc Orlando as the Cats’ new offensive coordinator.  Spence has coordinator experience at both the FCS and FBS level.  Toledo, Hofstra, and Clemson enjoyed some of their most productive offensive seasons in school history under Spence’s guidance.  He inherits the second ranked FCS offense from a year ago, but the Cats still have much room for improvement.   The Wildcats averaged just 21 points against the MEAC’s top teams a year ago (14 vs. SCSU, 21 vs. NSU, 23 vs. Hampton, and 27 vs. FAMU).  That was 17 points lower than their season average of 38 points per game.  The Wildcats hope to increase their scoring output this year, specifically against upper echelon competition, under Spence’s leadership.

Autry Denson and Joe Dailey join Spence as new additions to the offensive coaching staff.  Denson, a former standout running back at Notre Dame and in the NFL, will coach the same position for the Wildcats.  Dailey, who started at quarterback for Nebraska before transferring to North Carolina, is listed as the new quarterbacks coach.  Allen Suber, Lawal McCray, and John Powers return as second year offensive assistants and will coach the wide receivers, tight ends, and offensive line respectively.

Earl Lane - BCU defensive line coach

New coaches on the defensive side of the ball include graduate assistant Buddy Collins and defensive line coach Earl Lane.  While Collins is a coaching neophyte, Lane brings with him a wealth of coaching experience and a proven record of accomplishment.  Lane served as defensive line coach for LSU during their 2007 BCS Championship season. He helped Glenn Dorsey win the Lombardi, Outland, and Nagurski awards in that same season.  The remaining defensive coaches are the same as last year: Yogi Jones—defensive coordinator and linebackers, Terry Sims—special teams’ coordinator and secondary, Terry Williams—defensive backs.

Old and young, sustained success and hot newcomers; the Wildcats’ coaching staff has it all.  Brian Jenkins will look to this diverse group of assistants to “coach up” his talented squad and hopefully deliver postseason success.

Early season schedules of MEAC’s elite add intrigue

‘Do you remember,
the 21st night of September.
Love was changing the minds of pretenders,
while chasing the clouds away.’

The funky lyrics from Earth, Wind, and Fire seem apropos for the four teams predicted to finish atop the MEAC football standings in 2011.  Most sports fans understand the correlation between momentum and confidence and  winning and losing.  They also understand that winning (and losing) can be as contagious as a funk band’s groovy beats.  South Carolina State, Bethune-Cookman, Florida A&M, and Hampton may find it  difficult to establish early season momentum as they all experience their toughest stretch of games at the kickoff of the 2011 campaign.  By the end of September, the league crown could be out of reach for one or more of these expected contenders.

bulldogsSouth Carolina State has the most difficult opening stretch of games.  The Bulldogs will be double-digit underdogs to FBS opponents Central Michigan (9/1) and Indiana (9/17).  Nestled between the two FBS contests is a matchup against Bethune-Cookman.  Buddy Pough’s Bulldogs are 29-1 vs. HBCU’s over the past three seasons.  The Wildcats handed the Bulldogs their lone HBCU defeat last year in Orangeburg.  SCSU conclude the month with a matchup versus new look and hopeful contender Delaware State.

The Wildcats of Bethune-Cookman opened last season with one-sided victories against undermanned Edward Waters and overmatched Savannah State.  This year’s early season competition is much tougher for Brian Jenkins’ squad.  The Wildcats will look to extend the MEAC’s 4-2 record in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge when they face SWAC power Prairie View A&M on the 4th. BCU finish their September schedule at home with contests against SCSU (9/10) and Hampton (9/22). 

pLike Bethune, Hampton kickoff their 2011 campaign versus a SWAC Opponent.  Hampton and Alabama A&M square off on September 3rd in the Chicago Football Classic.  The Pirates next three opponents,  FAMU (9/8), Old Dominion (9/17), and BCU (9/24), were 3-0 versus Donovan Rose’s team in 2010. 

fFlorida A&M face perhaps the easiest opening schedule of the top four teams from a year ago.  Division II Ft. Valley State visits Tallahassee on September 3rd.  FAMU will have a quick turnaround and play a Thursday night/ESPNU contest against Hampton on September 8th.  Big East title contender University of South Florida host Joe Taylor’s squad in Tampa on the 17th.  The Rattlers end the month against one of their old nemesis, Southern University (9/24).  FAMU should be favored over SU, but as the saying goes: “you can throw out all of the records in a rivalry game”. 

The top-heavy schedule of the MEAC’s elite may leave the door open for other squads looking to contend.  Morgan State can thank the schedule makers for leaving FAMU and SCSU off of their schedule.  Unlike the teams mentioned above, the Bears face their toughest stretch of games at the end of the season.  Norfolk State avoids FAMU this year and may have time to build confidence before facing South Carolina State, Delaware State, Hampton, and Bethune in the month of October.

The second full week of the season (the week ending Saturday, September 10th) may be the most pivotal in the race for conference supremacy.  Hampton host FAMU on Thursday (9/8) and SCSU travels to Daytona Beach to face BCU on Saturday (09/10).  These early season matchups will certainly cause a lot of “scoreboard watching” and should help quickly weed out the pretenders.  By the month’s end, some expected contenders may have their hopes dashed while others may be humming “ba-de-ya” and dancing in September.