Welcome the 2018 MEAC Football Season

Hey y’all; it’s game week and the kickoff of the 2018 MEAC football season is here. (That felt so good I will say it again).

Hey y’all; it’s game week and the kickoff of the 2018 MEAC football season is here. Our beloved Wildcats travel to Nashville to take on the Tigers of Tennessee State this Saturday, September 1st at 7:00pm in the John Merritt Classic. Bethune will look to capture its first MEAC crown since 2015 and finish the season in Atlanta in the Celebration Bowl.

But it’s not just the Wildcats who will fight to position themselves at the top of the MEAC standings come season end. Aggies, Eagles, Bison and Bulldogs will all attempt to claw their way to the catbird seat and represent the conference in Atlanta in December.

Our MEACFANSZone friend, durhamgsoaggie, put together a list of things to watch for this season in the MEAC that will likely have major impacts on 2018 and beyond. Enjoy!

1. A Tale of Two Willies In Tally.

2018 will mark the first time that the two D1 universities in Florida’s capital will both have black head football coaches (and under the age of 45). In fact, the ADs, men’s basketball coaches and head football coaches of both FAMU and FSU are all black males.

Slick Willie (Taggart) and Fast Willie (Simmons) are great young football minds who have the potential to change the game at their prospective levels. In addition to winning, the question is whether they can produce a synergy within the city of Tallahassee that hasn’t been there to lift both sides to dominance? And will FAMU’s recruitment of Kayvon Thibodeaux, one of the nation’s highest rated players, have an effect on this if successful?

2. The evolution of Akevious Williams and the Circle City Debate

Most media outlets have Howard picked as the consensus #2 behind A&T because of the Caylin Newton/Mike London effect. But an argument can be made that the most talented roster in the MEAC from top-to-bottom is down in Daytona. With Larry Brihm now departed to the CFL, will Williams make the leap this year as the unquestioned leader at QB under the tutelage of Allen Suber? Or will he fall back into a timeshare with a player like Jabari Dunham? Given BCU’s home games against A&T & NCCU and a bevy of talented RBs to go with an aggressive defense… the answer to this question could have championship ramifications for the MEAC.

BCU also elected to give up its home game vs. Howard for the Circle City Classic. If BCU wins, this is a moot issue. However… if Howard wins on the neutral site, the questions will linger whether it was a wise move to give up home-field advantage for the $$$ and visibility for Circle City. This game is definitely one to watch.

3. NCCU – The QB Collectors

NCCU started 2017 with former Southern/JUCO transfer Micah Zanders at QB. Due to injury, freshman Chauncey Caldwell took over the reins for the Eagles with sophomore Naill Ramadan mixed in. In the offseason, NCCU signed Zanders’ brother Marvin, a grad transfer QB from Missouri. In addition, freshman Dominique Shoffner redshirted. Crowded QB rooms are nothing new in a D1 football program. But with a squad replacing 8 starters on defense, continuity and efficiency on offense will be key early in the season. Coach Granville Eastman is a defensive guy who will have his defense fully functional by mid-season. RBs are abundant with the return of Isaiah Totten and arrival of hometown star Jamal Elliott. But the QB room in Durham is a carousel to watch early in the season.

4. The Ticking Clock in Norfolk

3 seasons and no progress in Norfolk for Coach Latrell Scott. Solid recruiting classes, a solid returning starter at QB in Juwan Carter, a big win down in Durham vs. NCCU… but no real traction so far. Tragedy struck the Norfolk program in a major way last season. But this is a new season and the natives in the talent-rich Tidewater region are on the warpath. Can Scott’s staff produce the synergy needed to produce a winning season? Can an offensive line emerge to control the clock, keep an opportunistic defense fresh and keep the talented Carter upright to make plays? Or will Scott’s tenure end with a grave in the Tidewater wetlands? One thing is for sure… Virginia State and Reggie Barlow are coming on September 1st. Could Scott be playing against his potential replacement? Time will tell.

5. End of an era in Orangeburg and Savannah.

Rumors have been swirling that 2018 will be the last for SCSU Coach Oliver “Buddy” Pough. 2018 is also the last season for Savannah St as they move back to the SIAC in Division II. SCSU produced another high draft pick with Darius Leonard going in the 2nd round to the Colts. With SCSU losing LB Dashawn Taylor as well… will the massive OL/DLs down in Orangeburg be able to carry the load and give Buddy one last winning season out the door? And can Coach Erik Raeburn continue to build a viable program given concurrent defections due to the pending move down for progress in 2018?

6. New faces, same problems in Delaware & Baltimore

Coaches Rod Milstead and Ernest Jones bring new energy & passion to their programs. But structural and regional issues still remain the same for both programs. Can the coaches recruit successfully enough in the same competitive recruiting regions? And are the staffs they assemble capable enough in the scheme/execution department to make a significant change in the quality of football we’ve seen from both schools? A competitive DSU/MSU combo makes this entire conference take a step up. We need it.

7. Golden Non-Conference Opportunities

Multiple schools have great opportunities for OOC wins, including Morgan St, NCCU, FAMU and BCU. Norfolk St has a major home game against FCS power James Madison. But the headliners are Howard & A&T.

Howard has FBS Ohio & Kent St while ending the season hosting FCS Bryant. A&T kicks off the season with FCS power Jacksonville St, then travels to FBS East Carolina, followed by hosting FCS Gardner Webb. The A&T/Jax St. game may be the biggest MEAC FCS game since the 1999 I-AA Playoffs in terms of competitive standing on the FCS stage. Howard’s win over UNLV and near-miss at Kent in 2017 put them on the map in the Mike London era. Continuing to win more of these games is critical to gaining a broader market audience for the MEAC. But tiebreakers may also come into play for A&T and Howard, since they will not play each other in 2018. So all of these matchups are key in 2018.

Read more: http://meacfanszone.proboards.com/thread/35030/top-2018-meac-football-storylines#ixzz5PUT555Hm  

Thanks durhamgsoaggie for your input.

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Wildcats move up to 18th in both polls

IMG_7444 Mike Jones 2

Michael T Jones celebrates after scoring against FIU

Bethune-Cookman, fresh off a 14-12 victory against FBS foe Florida International, moved up 4 spots in the SportsNetwork media poll and 5 spots in the FCS coaches’ poll this week.  BCU is now ranked 18th in both polls.

14 ranked FCS schools faced off against FBS competition in college football’s opening weekend.  Only Bethune-Cookman and three time defending national champs North Dakota State exited the weekend with victories over FBS opponents.

North Dakota State trounced Iowa State of the Big 12 34-14 and is now ranked 1st in both polls.  It was the fifth consecutive win over a FBS opponent for NDSU.  #16 Tennessee State joins BCU as ranked HBCUs. 

Sports Network Media Poll

RANK

SCHOOL

RECORD

POINTS

PREVIOUS

1

North Dakota State (93)

1-0

3,830

2

2

Eastern Washington (63)

2-0

3,804

1

3

Southeastern Louisiana

1-0

3,553

3

4

Montana

0-1

3,064

5

5

Coastal Carolina

1-0

3,028

7

6

New Hampshire

0-1

2,998

4

7

McNeese State

0-0

2,661

8

8

UNI

0-1

2,634

9

9

Jacksonville State

0-1

2,580

6

10

Villanova

0-1

2,488

12

11

Fordham

1-0

2,423

11

12

South Dakota State

0-1

2,242

10

13

Chattanooga

0-1

1,793

14

14

Tennessee State

1-0

1,701

15

15

Sam Houston State

1-1

1,484

17

16

Eastern Illinois

0-1

1,402

16

17

Richmond

1-0

1,323

20

18

Bethune-Cookman

1-0

1,109

22

19

Furman

1-0

1,004

21

20

Montana State

0-1

965

18

21

William & Mary

0-1

945

19

22

Towson

0-1

829

13

23

Youngstown State

0-1

540

24

24

Maine

1-0

469

25

25

Northern Arizona

0-1

352

23

BCU’s Fields, Monroe Garner Weekly MEAC honors

BCU LB - Jarkevis Fields

BCU LB – Jarkevis Fields

NORFOLK, Va., September 2, 2013 –  The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference announced on Monday that Jarkevis Fields and Alex Monroe were named Defensive Player of the Week and Co-Offensive Lineman of the Week respectively.

Fields (LB, 6-0, 230, Sr., Sanford, Fla.) recorded a game-high 10 tackles, six solo, in the Wildcats’ 12-9 victory over Tennessee State.  He added one sack for 10 yards and was named the John Merritt Classic’s Most Valuable Defensive Player.

Monroe (LT, 6-5, 305, Sr., Jacksonville, Fla.) anchored the Wildcats’ offensive line that accounted for 260 yards of total offense.  He graded out at 88-percent on his assignments and helped paved the way for the final game-winning drive in the Wildcats’ victory over Tennessee State.  Behind his protection, Bethune-Cookman rushed for 162 yards and tallied 98 yards through the air.

Morgan State’s Karim Barton joined Monroe as Co-Offensive Lineman of the Week.

South Carolina State’s Tyler McDonald was selected as the Offensive Player of the Week, Justin Taylor also of South Carolina State was named Rookie of the Week.  MSU’s Lawrence Forbes and SCSU’s Nick Belcher earned Co-Special Teams of the Week accolades.

 

Other Top Performers

Darian Baker (B-CU) recorded two kickoff returns for 71 yards, including a 41 yarder, in his first collegiate game.

Jordan Murphy (B-CU) caught three passes for 35 yards and one touchdown in the Wildcats’ 12-9 victory over Tennessee State.

 

BREAKING NEWS: HAILWILDCATS.COM 1st WATCH PARTY!

ALL WILDCAT NATION!!!!!

In a last minute deal struck between Hailwildcats.com staff and Buffalo Wild Wings of Daytona, Hailwildcats.com will host the 1st Hailwildcats.com Watch Party tonight at 8 p.m. EST when the Mighty Wildcats of Bethune-Cookman University take on the Tigers of Tennessee State University on ESPN 3. We will be streaming the game live on the “BIG SCREEN” of Buffalo Wild Wings at 2479 W. International Speedway Blvd  Daytona Beach, FL 32114.

If you are in the Daytona area, put on your Maroon and Gold and come out and share with the Wildcat Nation in this momentous and joyous occasion and see

“Who will ascend to the top of the mountain?”

We look forward to seeing you there! Kickoff AT 8 P.M.

Tenn State Coach Rod Reed Almost got job at BCU

Nashville– Bethune-Cookman and Tennessee State fans alike would have a hard time imagining anyone other than Brian Jenkins and Rod Reed roaming the sidelines of their respective programs over the past 3 seasons.  But four years ago, Rod Reed stood at a crossroads in his football coaching career that could have changed the portrait of both programs.

Credits – TSUTigers – TSU Head Coach Rod Reed

Reed had emerged as a finalist for the head coaching position at Tennessee State and Bethune-Cookman.

He’d spent four seasons as linebackers coach at Bethune-Cookman, met his wife there and liked living in Daytona Beach, Fla.

But TSU was his alma mater, and when athletics director Teresa Phillips offered to promote him from the Tigers’ defensive coordinator to the top job, he accepted.

Bethune-Cookman eventually hired Brian Jenkins, who has led the Wildcats to three consecutive winning seasons, including last year’s 9-3 record.

TSU and Bethune-Cookman meet at 8 p.m. today in the John Merritt Classic at LP Field in what will be an emotional game for Reed, who has so many connections with both programs.

“I am sure I would have been happy as the head coach at Bethune-Cookman. I like the school and I like the people there,” Reed said. “I went down there when the head coaching position was open, came back and interviewed with TSU, and the next day I was the coach here.”

Reed’s second college coaching position was at Bethune-Cookman (1992-95), and it was during his time there when he developed the desire to be a head coach — so much so he was willing to leave the college ranks in 1996 to take the head coaching job at Seabreeze High in Daytona Beach, Fla.

In 2000, he returned to college coaching at East Texas Baptist and three years later became TSU’s defensive coordinator.

Reed left a strong impression at Bethune-Cookman.

Continue Reading: http://www.tennessean.com/article/20130901/SPORTS06/309010059/TSU-coach-Rod-Reed-almost-got-job-Bethune-Cookman?nclick_check=1

Who Will Ascend – (Week 1) #20 BCU at Tennessee State

Credits: BCU Athletics

Credits: BCU Athletics

In the spirit of Bethune-Cookman’s legacy of faith…THANK YOU JESUS IT’S FOOTBALL SEASON.

In less than 36 hours, the 2013 edition of the Fighting Wildcats will square off against Tennessee State in one of the most anticipated matchups of the HBCU season.  BCU will look to jumpstart its season and proclaim to the HBCU and FCS football world that they are worthy of the preseason hype.

When the Wildcats are on Defense

BCU return 7 starters to a defensive unit that led the nation in turnovers and ranked 7th nationally in Total Defense a season ago.  Among those expected to impact Sunday’s contest are 2013 MEAC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year linebacker Jarkevis Fields (103 tackles, 4 BU, 4 PD); All-American defensive end LeBrandon Richardson (53 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 13 TFL); and All-American safety Nick Addison (68 tackles, 4 INT, 7 BU, 11 PD).  The Wildcat D will look to make the Tennessee State offense, who will be without starting quarterback Michael German (suspension), one-dimensional.  Redshirt freshman and Tallahassee native Ronald Butler has been named as German’s replacement.

Butler will take snaps behind an experienced offensive line which includes All-OVC left guard Kadeem Edwards and All-American tight-end and former University of Florida signee A.C. Leonard.  New Smyrna High School product Telvin Hooks is expected to take over the starting running back duties for Tenn. State.  In a twist of irony, Tennessee State’s key offensive starters are all native Floridians: Butler (QB-Tallahassee), Edwards (OL-Sanford), Leonard (TE-Jacksonville), Hooks (New Smyrna Beach).

Key Matchup #1: BCU’s Front Seven vs. TSU’s running game
The football adage suggests great defenses take away something from the opposing offense.  Can Yogi Jones’ defensive front seven control the TSU running game and force redshirt freshman quarterback Ronald Butler to beat them with his arm?

Key Matchup #2: Nick Addison vs. A.C. Leonard
BCU’s All-American safety Nick Addison and Tenn. State’s All-American tight end A.C. Leonard are sure to lock horns throughout this contest.  Conventional wisdom suggests Leonard will be the primary pass receiving option for TSU’s young quarterback.  On the second play of last year’s contest, Leonard’s 80 catch and run setup TSU’s first score.  BCU defenders, Addison chief among them, must account for Leonard in the passing game and limit his big play ability.

When the Wildcats are on Offense

MEAC Preseason Co-Offensive Player of the Year Isidore Jackson has gained more rushing yards than any running back in BCU history.  Jackson’s 2,449 career rushing yards only trails Allen Suber and Pa’Tell Troutman (both of whom were option quarterbacks) on the school’s all-time rushing list.  Jackson is expected to be joined in the backfield by Anthony Jordan.  The one-two punch of Jackson and Jordan provides the Wildcats with great mix of physicality and elusiveness in their rushing attack.

BCU’s two depth chart, released earlier this week, did not clearly reveal who will start the game under center.  The starting quarterback for this contest was listed as Quentin Williams –or- Brock Waters –or- Jackie Wilson.  Expect two (if not all three) of the aforementioned quarterbacks to see the field in some capacity on Sunday.  Quentin Williams ended last season with the best numbers statistically (1163 yards on 85 of 142 attempts, 11 TDs, 2 INTs—445 yards rushing, 3 rushing TDs), however, it appears that both Wilson and Waters have had good preseason practices and have earned the right to be considered for the top position on the depth chart along with Williams.

Eddie Poole returns on the outside for what will be his 6th year of eligibility.  Poole, who was granted a medical redshirt by the NCAA, has caught a pass in every game of his BCU playing career (35).  The former Rutgers man will look to extend his consecutive game pass catching streak and take advantage of the single coverage he is sure to see during stretches on Sunday.  Preston Cleckly, Jhomo Gordon, and Justin Henderson will also have opportunities to make an impact in the passing game.

Perhaps the most important unit to watch during Sunday’s contest is the Bethune-Cookman offensive line.  All-MEAC performer Alex Monroe will look to anchor a unit featuring at least 3 new starters.

Tennessee State’s defense was tops in the OVC and returns all 11 starters from a season ago.  Top performers returning to the Tiger defense include All-OVC performers Stephen Godbolt (CB), Daniel Fitzpatrick (safety), and Nick Thrasher (LB).

Key Matchups #1: BCU offensive line vs. Tenn. State’s blitz package
TSU simply did not respect BCU’s passing game during last season’s meeting.  The Tiger’s loaded the box and run blitzed the Wildcats for the better part of 4 quarters.  Will the young BCU offensive line gel quick enough to create seams for the running game and protection in the passing game?

Key Matchup #2: Eddie Poole vs. Stephen Godbolt
This is a matchup of two of the best athletes and players at their respective positions in all of HBCU football.  The winner of this individual matchup may very well dictate their respective team’s play-calling ability throughout this contest.

Other Notes:

  • Bethune-Cookman and Tennessee State played annually from 1982-1987 with TSU winning 5 of the 6 contests.  The series was revived in 2012 and played before a near capacity crowd in Daytona Beach.  TSU defeated the Wildcats 21-14 in last year’s contest to improve their series advantage to 6 games to 1.  Bethune-Cookman’s lone victory against TSU occurred the last time the two teams faced off in Nashville in a 16-13 Wildcat win (1987).   Although TSU holds a decisive head-to-head advantage, the series has been very competitive with 5 of the 7 matchups being decided by 7 points or less.
  • Isidore Jackson is just 449 yards away from becoming Bethune-Cookman’s all-time leading rusher.
  • The Marching Wildcats will be in attendance.
  • Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 PM (EST).  The game can be viewed live on ESPN3 or the WatchESPN app; click here for link http://es.pn/BCUvsTNST.

5 Questions from Fall Camp

 

DSC_0119The Bethune-Cookman football team has enjoyed a prolific run of success under the leadership of now 4th year head coach Brian Jenkins.  Over the past 3 seasons, the Jenkins led Wildcats have accumulated the highest winning percentage of all Division I (FBS and FCS) football programs in the state of Florida; BCU has earned 2 MEAC titles during that span; and they are currently riding a 14 game conference winning streak.

14 starters return to the offensive and defensive units (7 on each side) this season.  Among those returning are 2013 MEAC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, Jarkevis Fields (linebacker), and 2013 MEAC Preseason Co-Offensive Player of the Year, Isidore Jackson (running back).  The Beach Cats led the conference in Total Offense (387.9 yards per game) and ranked 7th Nationally in Total Defense (301.4 yards per game) a season ago.

In less than 30 days, the Wildcats will carry their talented squad and extremely high expectations into Nashville to square off against fellow Top 25 foe Tennessee State.

Here are 5 key storylines to watch throughout Fall Camp as BCU continues its pursuit of becoming one of the nation’s premier FCS programs.

 

How Well/Quickly Will the Offensive Line Gel?

BCU suffered its greatest attrition from a season ago along the offensive line.  All-MEAC first teamer Alex Monroe and capable starter Rashard Brown will look to anchor the unit.  Brian Dorsey, Michael Jones, and Josue Joseph are all highly talented players who have played quality minutes at the collegiate level.  The trio will have first dibs at claiming the 3 vacant starting roles along the offensive front this season.

The Wildcats signed 6 quality offensive linemen on signing day including 2 JUCO transfers; and if history is any indicator, coach Jenkins’ has one or two transfer offensive linemen walking around campus whose identities will remain concealed until kickoff draws near.

There is no shortage of talent or bodies at this position.  The question is will this group gel quickly enough and well enough to help BCU lead the MEAC in Total Offense for a 4th consecutive year?

 

Will the Passing Game Progress in 2013?

The overall success of this year’s team may very well come down to how effective the Wildcats will be in the passing game.  The Beach Cats passed for a pedestrian 147 yards per game and only eclipsed the 200 yard passing mark in one contest last season.

Top pass catching target Eddie Poole returns for another year as does big play potential receivers Preston Cleckley and Jhomo Gordon.  CFPA Awards Watch transfer tight end Justin Henderson is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses and provides the Wildcats with another quality pass catching option.

Jackie Wilson, Quentin Williams, and Brodrick Waters are in their 4th, 3rd, and 2nd year respectively in this offense.  Brian Jenkins has repeatedly stated that all three quarterbacks are capable of leading the Wildcat offense, but if BCU is to truly take that next step, at least one of the aforementioned signal callers will need to elevate the passing game into a more lethal component of the BCU attack.

 

Who Will Emerge as the Team Leaders?

Coaches lay the foundation and parameters of a successful program, but players lead players.  BCU received a great deal of on the field and emotional leadership from players like D.J. Howard, Eugene Solomon and Dawud Lane last season.  All three have moved on and a new crop of vocal, performance and emotional leaders must now emerge.

Speaking about leadership only excites coaches, but it is as critical to a team success as 1,000 yard rushers and All-American quarterbacks.

 

What Newcomer Will Have the Greatest Impact?

Justin Henderson has yet to play an official down for the Maroon and Gold, yet the transfer from the University of Memphis has already been named to the CFPA Awards Watch list for tight ends.  Henderson enjoyed a highly productive spring campaign and will look to provide BCU quarterbacks with a security blanket and matchup advantage in the passing game this coming fall.  On the defensive side of the ball, University of Miami transfer Thomas Finnie will likely compete for one of the starting cornerback spots and help bolster a defensive backfield which led the country in takeaways last season.

Returning players Anthony Jordan (RB) and Erik Williams (DL) possess all-conference level talent and will surely be highly impactful this season if they can overcome the injury bug.

 

How Well Will the Team Handle Expectations?

Bethune-Cookman received 16 of the 21 first place votes casted in the MEAC’s annual preseason poll.  The Wildcats are coming off a perfect 8-0 mark in conference in 2012.  Brian Jenkins’ squad is sure to get every team’s best effort in the 2013 campaign.  If the Wildcats wish to defend The Belt, they must stay emotionally and physically engaged for 12 weeks next season.

Bethune-Cookman travels to Nashville on Sunday, September 1st for a 7:00 P.M. kickoff against Tennessee State in the John Merritt Classic.  The Wildcats are 3-0 in season openers under the leadership of head coach Brian Jenkins.