Week Three Wrap-Up

 

Photo courtesy of Yahoo Sports

The first quarter of the season is over and we find ourselves still trying to figure out just how good this team can be this year.  After stumbling out of the gates against both Alabama State and South Carolina State, the Wildcats struck first against Miami this past weekend but made far too many execution errors to give themselves any chance of pulling off an upset.

Moral Victories won’t do

It was obvious from the postgame interview that Coach Jenkins was not at all happy with his team’s performance.  In fact, Coach Jenkins’ responses and overall disposition were much more reflective of a coach who felt like his team ‘let one slip away’ as oppose to a coach whose undermanned team was within 14 points of the University of Miami with 9:00 left in the contest.  The worse part about Saturday’s contest wasn’t losing, I mean we are talking about “The U”.  They have much more overall talent, they can offer 22 more scholarships (FBS-85; FCS-63), and they had the best player on the field in running back Duke Johnson; but the volume of  dropped passes, missed assignments, poor tackling, untimely penalties and overall poor execution by Wildcat players was troubling.

The easy thing to do is to simply write this off as BCU playing against a better team and being forced into execution issues.  The problem with that logic is that BCU has not played a full 4 quarters of crisp football all season long.  And oh by the way, Tennessee State is the #1 ranked team in HBCU football and they come to town in a few days.  The Wildcats can ill-afford to go through any periods of lull or poor execution against the Big Blue Tigers if they hope to stay undefeated in FCS play.

Make the decision for the coach

Here’s the deal.  BCU has three talented quarterbacks who all offer something different.   I would give up pork for 3 weeks if one of the QBs elevates the consistency of his play, separates himself from the bunch and become the Wildcat’s sure-fire starting quarterback.  You can say that I am praying for the next Matt Johnson to arise from this bunch and to do so quickly. 

Jackie Wilson has the most in-game experience of the trio.  Wilson has started all three games this season and he has not done anything to warrant losing the starting nod.  Wilson had most of last season and the first three games of this year to claim sole ownership as THE quarterback; but like a year ago, he is again stuck in a rotating quarterback system.  Good things seem to happen whenever Brock Waters is on the field, but Waters is sometimes erratic with his throws.  Quentin Williams represented well in his first collegiate game action but the sampling is way too small to draw any real conclusions. 

Neither quarterback has played pooly, but consistency at the position is the difference between this team having a good season and making a legitimate playoff run.  Hopefully one of these three guys will have a tremendous week of practice and make the decision for the coach with his play.  

The only person that will be more excited than me if this happens is Coach Jenkins himself.  It will be the first time in a year and a half that he won’t be asked “who’s the starter at QB this week”.  That alone may be enough to allow him to finally crack a smile.

Brian Jenkins developing winners on and off the field

Brian Jenkins

In the two short years that Brian Jenkins has been at the helm of the Bethune-Cookman football team, he has proven two things beyond question:

1. He is an excellent football coach.
2. He is an extremely passionate individual.

The third year head coach’s passion was on clear display at Sunday’s Media Day Event when discussing two specific topics: (a) his commitment to develop his players into responsible, productive men; and (b) how much he hates losing. 

The Wildcats are 18-5 under coach Jenkins’ leadership and they enter the season ranked as high as 14th nationally in one pre-season publication.  However, Coach Jenkins repeatedly and emphatically stated that “our program is about more than winning football games”.

“I love my guys and I will shout it from the mountain top”.  “We have a program that’s dedicated to building men.  It makes you feel good to know that your program is looked upon nationally for not just your football accomplishments, but for building young people also”.

The Wildcat football program received the FCS ADA Academic Progress Rate (APR) Award for being the Most Improved Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) school after improving to an APR score of 935 during the 2010-11 school year.

Several members of the squad have even already graduated and are enrolled in graduate school.   

Coach Jenkins’ fatherly influence extends far beyond the playing field and classrooms of his players; it also reaches into their family lives.

“I’ve got a lot of young father’s on this team.  We often counsel with them and tell them that there is no reason that you should not be there for your child.  You don’t let a team meeting or anything else affect that.  You got a lot of fathers that bring their kids to study hall and team meetings.  We have some ladies that work in our front office who offer babysitting to our guys so they can study and stay on topic”.

True freshmen Ray Martin of Sanford Seminole High School chose BCU over several BCS schools including Ole Miss and West Virginia.  Martin cited the pro-family environment established by Coach Jenkins as one of the primary appeals in his decision to sign with BCU.

“We try to provide a strong family for our team” Coach Jenkins stated.  “Our wives are heavily involved and they try to teach some of our players parenting skills”. 

At least two of BCU’s football players are single fathers who have sole custody of their children.

Coach Jenkins said “I am very proud of my guys for taking on their responsibility of being a (single) father in spite of playing a college sport and for maintaining a high level of both. So in my book I’m a grandfather and I couldn’t be more proud of them”.

“I love this team and my players so much.  They are not all angels.  They make mistakes but they don’t make excuses.  They give me all that I ask of them in every aspect”.

Coach Jenkins’ affinity for his players extends to his former players as well.  When asked about the team’s newest graduate assistant, (former BCU QB) Matt Johnson, Coach Jenkins liken him to “a friend that you bring home and feed once but then you can’t get rid of them”.  He went on to praise Matt Johnson’s accomplishments on and off the field namely being named as BCU’s first Jake Gaither award winner in 2010 for his on the field production as well as being recognized by the University as “Business Student of the Year” for his work in the classroom that same year.  He went on to state that Matt Johnson has “walked in the direction that they are trying to get the (current) players to walk in.  He is living what he has learned (as a BCU football player) and he’s done a tremendous job in life and with our quarterbacks”.

—“I hate to lose and hate is a strong word”— Brian Jenkins

The fatherly passion and care that was evident when speaking about his players quickly gave way to the intense and poignant side of BCU’s head ball coach when asked what would define a successful season for his squad.  “Win a national championship!!! Anything less is unacceptable”.

“Everybody is jumping around saying 8-3–you did good last year.  To hell with that.  Those 3 (losses) bother me a lot more than those 8 (wins).  The numbers look good but a national championship would feel a whole lot better.  I didn’t just take this job as a stepping stone or to build stats. We want to win a national championship and that’s what we work towards every day in every way! I let them (the players) know from day one.  We want to win a national championship.  It’s a dirty, grueling, ugly, hard process and you have to be willing to go through it.  I tell my guys that if you’re not willing (to go through the process of becoming a national champion) then leave, go somewhere else.  This might not be the place for you.  There are no bones, no mistakes, no false statements about it; our goal is to win the national championship”.

When asked if the Wildcats needed to upgrade their schedule to assist in reaching the goal of winning a national championship since the MEAC has gone so long without winning a playoff game the coach responded: “we do need to do a better job of winning in the playoffs but when you upgrade your schedule and then you have the record that you’re supposed to have, then they find a way to overlook you, is that the MEAC’s fault?  Let’s call it what it is.  People want to talk around it.  There are some teams that have been placed in the playoffs whose schedule is not ‘King Kong’. Of course you want to schedule (FCS) playoff teams (during the regular season), but do they want to do that.  (Sometimes we) make a phone call and they say that they will get back to you, but they never call you back.  What do you do in those situations?  I tell my guys to win them all and you won’t have to worry about it”.

The Wildcats will get their chance to win the first one of the 2012 season when they face off against Alabama State in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge in Orlando on Sunday, September 2nd at 12:00.

BCU Thumps Morgan 49-23

Last Saturday’s 49-23 Homecoming thumping of Morgan State was a near perfect microcosm of The Fighting Wildcats 2011 football season. 

 Much like the first half of this season, the first 2 quarters of Saturday’s contest were filled with both explosive plays 174 yards of total offense and 2 defensive turnovers and untimely penalties 6 for 54 yards– for the Wildcats.  BCU looked vulnerable as a result and clung to a 14-10 halftime lead.

 The Wildcats seemed to sure up a few things in the halftime locker room and looked completely dominant and playoff worthy in the second half; outscoring MSU 35-13 in the process.

Isidore Jackson had another solid afternoon rushing for 94 yards (1 TD) on 20 carries and catching 2 passes for 22 yards. Senior fullback Johnathan Moment enjoyed his best statistical game of the season accounting for 106 yards of total offense (78 rushing; 28 receiving) and two touchdowns in the contest. 

Jackie Wilson

Sophomore quarterback Jackie Wilson continues to play well.  Wilson completed 67 percent of his passes (10/15 for 186) and rushed for 74 yards and 3 touchdowns on the afternoon.  “The game is starting to slow down to me,” Wilson said after the contest. 

 Although Wilson’s insertion into the starting lineup has seemed to stabilize the Wildcat offense, Coach Brian Jenkins states that there will continue to be an open competition for the starting quarterback spot.  Jenkins went on to state that David Blackwell almost received the starting nod this week instead of Wilson.

 The Wildcat starting defense held the Morgan State offense to 173 yards of total offense and 10 points through 3 quarters.  Senior linebacker Ryan Lewis led the way with 7 tackles including 1.5 tackles for loss.  The Bear offense accumulated 137 yards of offense and 13 points in the final quarter mostly against BCU’s second and third teamers.  Even still, Coach Jenkins was none-too-happy about how his defense finished the contest; and he was particularly upset about yielding a 44-yard touchdown run to Travis Davidson with 58 seconds remaining in the contest.  “No matter the score, I want my guys to execute.”  “We had one guy out of position and a few others who didn’t make the play that was to be made” Jenkins stated.  Davidson finished the afternoon with 133 yards rushing on 17 carries for the Bears.

Bethune hosts upstart Savannah State next Saturday in Daytona Beach at 4:00 p.m.

Jekyll-and-Hyde Eagles are a mystery, even to their coach, Henry Frazier

Associated Press

NCCU QB Michael Johnson

DURHAM — Sounding ominous just days before Halloween, N.C. Central coach

Henry Frazier III said he’s never sure whether the Eagles he sees all week at practice will be the same ones who will show up on game day.

“We’ve been Jekyll-and-Hyde all season. I really don’t know which team is going to show up,” Frazier said.

It’s as if the Eagles looked at the schedule and circled the contests they believed required their “A” games, Frazier said.

If that’s the case, it would seem Saturday’s game against Bethune-Cookman (2 p.m., nccueaglepride.com) is highlighted, because it’s homecoming, and there’s something about putting on a good show for the alums.

The Eagles better come ready to play, because Bethune-Cookman is no joke, Frazier said. The Wildcats can run it, pass it and sure enough will hit, he said.

“That 49 on defense is something else. He’s a grown man out there,” Frazier said about Bethune-Cookman defensive end Ryan Davis. “Their defense is a bunch of grown men running around.”

Last week against Norfolk State, Davis had 3.5 sacks, 11 tackles, forced a fumble and recovered another and was credited with a quarterback hurry, all of which made him not only the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week but also brought in Bethune-Cookman’s first National Football Championship Subdivsion Defensive Player of the Week award from The Sports Network/Fathead.com, given weekly to the top defender in the nation.

It’s not just Bethune-Cookman’s defense that furrows Frazier’s brow.

“Everything is of concern,” Frazier said.

NCCU’s defensive backs will have to make sure Wildcat wide receiver Eddie Poole is accounted for, and Bethune-Cookman doesn’t have just one or two running backs but a stable of them who all see time in the backfield and know what to do when they get their hands on the ball, Frazier said.

“They break tackles,” Frazier said. “We’re talking gang tackling.”

Bethune-Cookman running back Isidore Jackson last week was the MEAC Offensive Player of the Week after averaging 6.5 yards per carry and finishing with 206 yards.

“All of our running backs are capable of doing what Ike did,” Bethune-Cookman coach Brian Jenkins said.

The Wildcats (4-3) have at least five solid running backs, but if one of them particularly is doing his thing out there on the field, then that guy might get most of the carries, Jenkins said.

NCCU (1-6) has yet to win a game in the conference since returning this season as a full MEAC member.

“North Carolina Central is probably the best one-win team that I’ve seen, and I don’t mean that with any disrespect,” Jenkins said. “They’re no slouch, now.”

Jenkins said NCCU probably should have beaten South Carolina. State, a team that for years has set the standard in the MEAC.

“They had South Carolina State on the ropes,” Jenkins said.

He was referring to S.C. State’s 49-38 over the Eagles earlier this season. NCCU has lost five straight, including last week’s 30-27 overtime defeat at Hampton.

“We’re not looking at them lightly or overlooking them,” Jenkins said of the Eagles. “They’re very disciplined and sound.”

Frazier wouldn’t agree about that discipline part. The Eagles committed 133 yards of penalties in each of their last two games. Those flags have been real thorns, Frazier said.

Still, eliminate NCCU’s record and what the Eagles are is a good football team, Jenkins insisted.

“Offensively, their quarterback gets rid of the football pretty fast, and they throw the ball up and down the field on people,” Jenkins said.

NCCU’s offense is efficient and can score, the Eagles play swarming defense and overall that team just plain plays hard, Jenkins said.

Thing is, there’s no telling which NCCU ball club will show up for the game, according to Frazier.

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