Week Two All HAILS…..

 

As we prepare to look ahead at Bethune-Cookman’s Week 3 matchup with FBS opponent Florida Atlantic, let’s first reflect back on a few things that deserve an “All Hail” from the Wildcats’ impressive road win over Southland Conference foe Southeastern Louisiana.

ALL HAIL Larry Brihm and the passing offense! Brihm finished the evening 25/39 for 354 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air. Brihm also added a 1 yard rushing score which proved to be the game winner with 6:04 remaining in the 4th. The performance was good enough to earn the senior quarterback MEAC Co-Offensive Player of the Week honors. Senior wide out Jawill Davis and junior Keavon Mitchell both eclipsed the 100 yard receiving mark. Davis registered 7 receptions for 138 yards and 1 TD while Mitchell recorded 6 grabs for 125 including a 47 yarder on the Wildcats opening drive which set up a Brihm to Anthony Cruz 11 yard hook up for the game’s first score.

 

ALL HAIL the BCU secondary. Trevor Merritt, Diquan Richardson and Elliott Miller reinforced their “no fly zone” moniker by each picking off a pass in Saturday’s contest. The BCU secondary locked down the SLU receivers and permitted a pedestrian 93 passing yards on the evening.

 

Defense….Defense- It wasn’t just the secondary who impressed on the defensive side of the ball. The entire squad deserves an ALL HAIL Salute! The Wildcat D only surrendered one touchdown on the evening. The other SLU TD came on a 92 yard kickoff return (#fixthat). Yogi Jones unit came up with several huge stops including the 3 picks by Merritt, Richardson and Miller and by limiting the Lions to a field goal after turning the ball over on its own 9 yard line. The biggest defensive stand came in the final minutes of the contest when the Wildcat D kept the Lions out of the endzone with 1:27 remaining and preserved a 28-23 win. Familiarize yourself with the name Uriah Gilbert. The 6’3”, 325 pound freshman, hailing from Ocala’s Trinity Catholic High School, helped control Southeastern’s inside rushing attack. Gilbert finished the contest with 7 tackles (including 1 for a loss). Gilbert has a lot of the same qualities as did former Wildcat DT Demarcus Womack. Linebacker Alexander Morales paced BCU with 9 tackles.

 

ALL HAIL the Southeastern Louisiana fan base. Well, almost all of the fan base. There was that one shirtless dude walking around on the visitor’s side showing his drawers and picking fights but he was the outlier. The other SLU fans were amazing. There must have been a dozen SLU fans who congratulated me on the win after the contest. They were extremely complimentary of the guys in maroon and gold and they expressed genuine concerned about the looming arrival of Hurricane Irma in Florida. The Lion fan base wished us well in weathering the storm and in the remaining contests this season. #SouthernHospitality

Speaking of Southern Hospitality. Big ups…check that…ALL HAIL Southern University for allowing Terry Sims and his squad to use their facilities this week because of travel delays associated with Hurricane Irma. Thanks for the HBCU love and hospitality.

 

No ALL HAILS to the three turnovers committed by the offense or the 14 penalties for 132 yards collected by the squad. If the Wildcats can address the turnover and penalty issues adequately, an upset win over next week’s FBS opponent FAU is not out of the question. The contest gets underway at 6:30pm at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton. You can join us in  supporting the Fighting Wildcats by hopping on the HailWildcats.com Fan Bus. Click here for more details.

Top 5 Moments of Terry Sims Era

 

15One, two, three—(one). One, two, three—(two). One, two, three—(three). Oh, don’t mind us! We’re just stretching the muscles and trying to loosen up before the kickoff of the 2017 football season.

There is a ton of anticipation heading into Bethune-Cookman’s Fall camp as Terry Sims and his men prepare to rebound after suffering its first losing season since 2009. Before we begin our look ahead at @BCUGridiron’s 2017 “RESURGE” campaign, let’s take a quick look back at the Wildcat’s Top 5 Moments under now 3rd year head coach Terry Sims.

 

Starting in reverse order

 

#5   First Florida Classic victory (2015)

A victory over a one-win team is not normally considered a memorable one, however, when said victory is over your archrival in your first match-up against them as head coach, it definitely gets elevated to the category of memorable.

Quentin Williams passed for three touchdowns and ran for another that November afternoon as BCU thumped the Rattlers 35-14 in the 2015 edition of the Florida Blue Florida Classic.

The win earned BCU its 5th consecutive victory over FAMU and its fourth consecutive MEAC crown.

 

#4   SCSU Blacked Out (2015)

BCU vs South Carolina 2015 (354)The Thursday Night “Blackout Contest” televised on ESPNU saw BCU rally late in the 4th quarter to secure a 17-14 victory over MEAC foe South Carolina State.

Quarterback Quentin Williams played a large role in the win hitting Ja-Quan Lumas for a 2 yard touchdown in the third quarter before rushing for the go-ahead score with 5:14 remaining in the contest.

 

#3   Circle the Wagons (2016)

After a rash of untimely injuries, lackluster performances and a stunning loss to Savannah State, the 2016 Wildcats were 0-5 and fighting for the future of the program by mid-October.

Sims rallied his guys, led them into The Commonwealth and earned a tough 21-14 victory at Norfolk State. The Beach Cats followed up the NSU win with strong performances against Delaware State, Morgan State and Florida A&M winning those contests by an average margin of victory of 27 points.

It was the first time all year BCU looked like the team predicted to compete for a MEAC crown at the beginning of the season. That string of victories breathed life back into the program and Sims will surely look to ride that momentum as his troops attempt to fight their way back to the pinnacle of the MEAC this season.

BCU vs Norfolk State 2015 (426)

Frank Brown – 2017 1st Team All-MEAC

 

 

#2   BLOCKED (NCCU 2015)

Hurricane Joaquin forced the 2015 matchup with North Carolina Central to be moved up two hours as North Carolina declared a state of emergence ahead of the contest.

BCU lead the game 7-6 at halftime but NCCU stormed out of the locker room and took a commanding 19 point lead into the final minute of the 3rd quarter.

The Wildcats scored 21 unanswered to take a 28-26 lead but this is when the real thunderstorm began.

The Eagles marched 92 yards to the Wildcats 1-yardline in the final minutes of the contests. On 3rd and goal from the 1 yard line, Central thought they scored the go-ahead touchdown but replay officials rained on that thought and ruled the ball never crossed the threshold of the goal line.

No sweat right! All Central had to do was lineup and convert a routine18 yard field goal to secure its 2nd ever victory over BCU. DIDN’T HAPPEN!

Freshman DB Elliott Miller BLOCKED Nigel Macauley’s 18 yard FG attempt and the Wildcats held on for the rain soaked win.

 

#1 Sims Earns First Ever Win at Grambling State (2015)

bcu-vs-norfolk-state-2015-2961Quarterback changes, momentum swings, 109 total points, over 1000 yards of total offense….this game had just about everything.

Larry Brihm and Quentin Williams combined to throw for 463 yards and six touchdowns as Bethune-Cookman scored late and held on for a 56-53 victory over Grambling State at Eddie Robinson Stadium in 2015.

BCU trailed by double digits twice in the matchup and there were 6 lead changes in all. The Wildcats took the final lead at the 3:37 mark in the 4th when Williams hit Jawill Davis, who finished with 199 yards, on a 29-yard scoring strike to claim a 49-46 advantage. Bethune added another score with 1:48 left when Anthony Jordan ran in from 41 yards out. Jordan’s score proved to be the game winner as Grambling quickly marched down the field and Johna Williams hit Chester Rogers with a 12-yard scoring strike with 54 seconds left to round out the final score at 56-53.

The win was the first for Terry Sims.

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.

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!!!!

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 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.

DJ Howard named MEAC defensive player of the week

MEAC ANNOUNCES WEEKLY FOOTBALL HONORS – MEACsports.com – The Official Site of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

bDJ Howard (S, 6-0, 185, r-So., Daytona Beach, Fla.) made five tackles in the secondary, three solo, as the Wildcats defeated Prairie View A&M 63-14 in the annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney.  He scooped up a fumble early in the second quarter and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown.  Howard also halted a time expiring score in the second quarter for PVAMU by capturing his first interception on the season. 

Norfolk State QB Chris Walley was named offensive player of the week.  Other top performers includes BCU’s:

Nick Addison–blocked a punt and collected three tackles, two solo, in his collegiate debut against Prairie View A&M.  

Corey Mason–anchored the Wildcats offensive line that accounted for 500 yards of total offense against Prairie View A&M.

Jamarr Robinson–accounted for 281 total offensive yards with three touchdowns in the Wildcats’ 63-14 rout of Prairie View A&M in the annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney.

Click the above link to read the full story.

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.

Defensive backs and linebackers preview

The strength of this year’s Wildcat squad is the defensive “back seven”.  The Cats return 4 linebackers and 3 defensive backs who started at least 2 games last season.  The top 6 tacklers are all back, 5 of whom are either defensive backs or linebackers.  

Secondary

Terry Williams, who was a great Wildcat DB in his playing days (2ndround draft pick of the NY Jets 1988), has built quite a resume for himself as BCU’s defensive backs coach.  During his tenure at Bethune, Williams has coached Buchanan Award winner and NFL Pro Bowler Rashean Mathis, All-Pro Safety Nick Collins, AP first team All-American and Buchanan Award finalist Bobby Williams, and All-MEAC first team performer Travis Roland.   Thankfully for the Cats the accolades for the secondary extend beyond individual awards.  The Wildcat secondary has held opponents to an under 50% completion rate in 5 of the past 7 seasons and they produce their fair share of turnovers year in and year out.  Last year, ball hawks Arkee Smith and Michael Williams recorded 11 interceptions from the safety position alone.  Smith

BCU's Michael Williams intercepts a pass

has since graduated but the Cats will look to M. Williams for leadership and production in the defensive backfield.   Although he did not start a single game in 2010, M. Williams finished the year with 6 INTs, was fourth on the team in total tackles, and was voted as a first team All-HBCU performer by BoxToRow/BASN. 

Returning starters Aaron Bagsby (FS) and Daniel Rhodes (CB) join M. Williams in the defensive backfield.  Bagsby and Rhodes ended 2010 5th and 6th respectively in total tackles.  DJ Howard started two games in 2010 before suffering a season ending injury.  Howard is a versatile athlete who can play both safety and corner.  3 Star recruit Dion Hanks participated in eight contests as a true freshman and will likely see increased playing time this year.  Jean Fanor, Cincinnati transfer Quincy Quetant, North Carolina Prep signee Marquis Drayton, and incoming true freshman Nick Addison are all likely contributors in this year’s secondary.

The one area of criticism for this group last year is that they did not make enough plays near the line of scrimmage.  The secondary and particularly the safeties will need to do a better job of recognizing and providing support against the outside zone and zone read plays that plagued the Wildcat defense a season ago.     Grade- B

Linebackers

Ryan Lewis (81 tackles, 4 ints, and 5 sacks) and Reggie Sandilands (81 tackles, 1 int, and 3.5 sacks) team up to lead what is arguably the best linebacking corp in all of HBCU football.  Lewis has been named as the preseason MEAC Defensive Player of the Year and a 2nd team All-American by the Sports Network.  Sandilands has received his share of preseason recognition as well being named on the first team All-MEAC defensive squad as well as on several watch list.  Lewis and Sandilands share a rather symbiotic relationship.  Both players are entering their third year as starters for the Wildcats and their height (6-1), weight (220), and playing styles are nearly identical.  Both players even have flowing dreadlocks hanging from their helmets as they chase down opposing running backs.  The superlative duo will be joined by returning starter Rock Angrand and capable backup Jarkevis Fields.  The linebackers possess great closing speed, they do a very nice job of shedding blockers, and they’re very instinctive.  Rutgers transfer Al-Ghaffar Lane will add more speed, athleticism, and depth to this already talented bunch.  There really are no glaring weaknesses amongst this group.   Our grade- A.