Wildcats take on Bison

DSC_0006WASHINGTON, DC — This Saturday’s matchup between Bethune-Cookman (4-1, 1-0 in the MEAC) and Howard University (1-4, 0-2 in the MEAC) pits the MEAC’s top offense against the league’s best defense.

BCU currently sits atop the conference rankings in both Total Defense (274.8 ypg) and Scoring Defense (18 ppg) while HU leads the MEAC in Total Offense (396.4) and Passing Offense (239.4).  The Bison offense is directed by junior quarterback Greg McGhee who leads the conference in total yards (1414), passing yards (1153), and passing touchdowns (10); and only trails BCU’s Quentin Williams in passing efficiency and completion percentage.  McGhee is coming off a stellar performance last week against North Carolina Central in which he completed 31 of 48 attempts for 328 yards, 4 TDs and no interceptions in a 28-37 loss.

McGhee has the luxury of throwing to 3 of the league’s Top 10 receivers in Jonathan Booker, Brandon Flanagan, and Stewart Hartman.

Despite the numbers, the Bison have struggled to translate their offensive proficiency into wins.  HU pulled off a near upset in Week One against FBS foe Eastern Michigan and defeated Division II Morehouse a week later.  Since then, the Bison have lost three consecutive contests being outscored 140-66 in the process.

The Wildcats (who are ranked 13th in the FCS Coaches poll and 16th in the Sports Network Media poll) shook off a sluggish first half against Delaware State last week in route to their 14th consecutive MEAC win.  BCU’s consecutive game win streak stretches back to October 20, 2011.

The Cats racked up 409 yards of offense against DSU including 241 yards on the ground.  Four BCU running backs rushed for at least 40 yards in the contest (Cary White (65), Anthony Jordan (61), Isidore Jacskon (54) and Drexler Dixon (40)) while senior wide receiver Eddie Poole added 4 catches for 103 yards with 1 touchdown through the air.

Defensively, the Wildcats have registered 6 interceptions, 15 sacks and 36 tackles for loss this season.  The aggressive and opportunistic BCU defense could be poised to have another big afternoon against HU’s high volume pass attack.

Jarkevis Fields pace the Cats D with 30 tackles while Dyron Dye leads the way with 3.5 tackles-for-loss and 3 sacks.
Other notes:

-BCU leads the overall series against HU 17-13-1 and have won 4 straight against the Bison.

-Howard University has billed Saturday’s contest as “Think Pink Day” and encourage all game attendees to wear something pink in support of breast cancer awareness. Perhaps Bethune will oblige by wearing the highly anticipated pink helmets….hmmmmm!  We shall see.

Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00.

Courtesy of BCU Athletics

Courtesy of BCU Athletics

Who Will Ascend….at Delaware State

????????Thank God it’s Friday.  Not only has the busy workweek ended but we can finally get back to some good ol’ fashion Bethune-Cookman football after what seems like a forever-break.  The 3-1 Wildcats are fresh off a bye week and will travel to Dover this Saturday for a 2:00 kickoff against Delaware State (1-3).

DSU secured its first victory of the season a week ago slipping past Savannah State 24-22 on the road.  Senior quarterback Cory Murphy completed 8-19 passes for 190 yards and 2 touchdowns in the contest.  Murphy and the DSU offense sit atop the conference rankings in passing offense averaging 232.2 yards per game.  Despite their relative success through the air, the Hornets have managed to score a pedestrian 13 points per game through their first four contests.  They haven’t fared much better defensively in the scoring department where they are yielding an eye-popping 41 points per game.

To DSU’s credit, their schedule has been a brutal one and all 3 of the Hornet’s losses have come at the hands of Top 25 opponents (#1-North Dakota State (51-0), #3-Towson (49-7), and #24-Delaware (42-21)).  The not-so-good news for DSU is that BCU enters the contest ranked #21 in the Sports Network poll, #16 in the FCS Coaches poll, and undefeated in their last 13 MEAC matchups.  To make things worse for the Hornets, Preseason MEAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year, Isidore Jackson, is scheduled to return to the BCU backfield after missing the last two games due to what coach Brian Jenkins called in-house issues.  Jackson’s presence is sure to boost BCU’s already MEAC best rushing attack (234 ypg).  During Jackson’s absence, Anthony Jordan filled in more than adequately and now leads the MEAC in rushing yards (302 yards) and yards per carry (6.0).

De-fense

LeBrandon Richardson -HailWildcats.com

LeBrandon Richardson -HailWildcats.com

The BCU defense has become known for taking the ball away and pressuring the opposing quarterback under coordinator Yogi Jones’s guidance.  The Cats will look to turn up the heat on a Del State offense that has already turned the ball over 10 times (5 fumbles, 5 interceptions) and allowed 14 sacks this season.  BCU currently leads the conference in Total Defense (287.8 ypg), interceptions, and interception returns for scores.  Look for the Wildcat defense to have a big afternoon against the Delaware State attack if they perform up to their usual standards.

In the end, Bethune should have little problems taking care of business against Delaware State on Saturday.

Yes, we know that on any given Saturday upsets can occur and yes you must respect your opponent; but BCU is flat-out the better team, they are more physical in the trenches and they have superior athletes and depth across the board.  Vegas odds makers list the Wildcats as 20 point favorites.  We have no reason to believe that the Wildcats won’t match Vegas’ 3 touchdown prediction.

Wildcats ranked 18th/20th in latest FCS polls

Cary White rushes for a score against FIU

Cary White rushes for a score against FIU

Bethune-Cookman head into its bye-week losing one spot in both the FCS Coaches and SportsNetwork media polls.  The Wildcats currently sit 18th and 20th respectively in the each poll.

BCU registered an impressive 3-1 mark in the month of September with out-of-conference victories over Tennessee State of the Ohio Valley Conference and Florida International from FBS’ Conference USA.  The #8 ranked Florida State Seminoles handed BCU their lone defeat.

The Wildcats have won 14 straight MEAC contests and begin conference play after the bye-week when they head to Dover to take on Delaware State on October 5th.

Coaches Poll

TEAM SCHOOL (FIRST-PLACE VOTES) RECORD POINTS PREV- IOUS
1. North Dakota State (26) 3-0 650 1
2. Towson 4-0 616 3
3. Eastern Washington 2-1 598 4
4. Sam Houston State 3-1 573 5
5. Northern Iowa 3-0 531 7
6. South Dakota State 3-1 465 6
T-7. New Hampshire 2-1 460 9
T-7. Montana 3-0 460 11
9. McNeese State 4-0 409 13
10. Montana State 2-2 402 2
11. Coastal Carolina 4-0 372 15
12. Eastern Illinois 3-1 354 10
13. Central Arkansas 2-2 326 14
14. James Madison 3-1 283 16
15. Wofford 2-2 278 8
16. Fordham 4-0 217 21
17. Lehigh 3-0 214 18
18. Bethune-Cookman 3-1 179 17
19. Cal Poly 1-2 169 19
20. Richmond 2-2 156 20
21. Villanova 1-2 155 23
22. Northern Arizona 2-1 117 22
23. Stony Brook 1-2 107 12
24. Illinois State 1-2 80 24
25. Youngstown State 3-1 47 NR

Dropped out: No. 25 Maine.

Others receiving votes: Maine 46, Tennessee-Martin 44, Gardner-Webb 35, William & Mary 27, Jacksonville State 21, Portland State 15, Southern Utah 8, Delaware 7, Tennessee State 6, Harvard 5, Chattanooga 4, Stephen F. Austin 4, Indiana State 2, North Carolina A&T 1, Sacred Heart 1.

 

Who Will Ascend BCU at FSU

Bethune-Cookman is off to a hot start and the programs first ever win over a FBS opponent (a 34-13 victory over FIU).  BCU will try to carry some of that early season momentum in to Tallahassee when they square off against one of the most storied programs in NCAA history on Saturday night in Doak Campbell Stadium.

????????Florida State overwhelmed its first two opponents (Pittsburg and Nevada) offensively outscoring them 103-20 racking up 1150 yards of offense in the process. Quarterback Jameis Winston is on everyone’s Heisman watchlist and has thrown more touchdown passes (6) than incompletions (40-45 passing with only 5 incompletions) this season.

Winston has the luxury of passing to one of the nation’s best receiving corps and/or handing the ball off to what some argue is the best running back tandem in the country in James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman.  Karlos Williams, recently converted from defensive back to running back, rushed for over 100 yards last week and adds even more  firepower to the Seminoles already crowded backfield.

Defensively, Florida State is yielding an ungenerous 10 points and 255.5 yards per contest so to say BCU will have their hands full keeping this game respectable is an understatement.

The Wildcats have played 12 quarters of football against FBS competition in their program history.  If you take out the 4th quarters of the two Miami games in 2011/12, the aggregate score of BCU vs. the FBS is 55-61.  That’s less than a touchdown difference in 10 of the 12 quarters of play.

If BCU can find a way to keep this game competitive for three quarters and avoid any major injuries, I think this trip can be considered a successful one.  If…and I mean a HUGE IF…by some celestial stroke of divine serendipity BCU pulls off one of the biggest upsets in college football history…nah we won’t even allow ourselves to think that way.  Let’s just say that thought was going to end with the talk of gold speedos, a maroon cape, and a Zorro mask.

Perhaps the best matchup of tonight will be ‘Let’s Go Wildcats’ vs. the ‘Seminole War Chant’.  These are easily two of the best anthems in college football.

Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 EST.  The game can be viewed live on ESPN3.com

Final Rant (Week 3) at FIU

Drexler Dixon

Drexler Dixon

Shortly after Bethune-Cookman’s historic 34-13 win over Florida International on Saturday night, Golden Panthers head coach Ron Turner told his team “we got beat by a better football team because they’re more of a team than we are.” Turner neglected to mention to his guys that BCU fielded a squad just as athletic as his, they were equal if not superior in overall team speed, and the Wildcats were much more physical at the point of attack than were his Panthers. In essence, Turner should have said Bethune-Cookman was simply the better football team; no qualifiers needed.

This is our house

The Wildcats set the tone for the night in the parking lot before kickoff. No, there was no pregame dust-up between the two sides; I am referring to the deluxe-size BCU tailgate taking place in the parking lot. South Florida alumni chapters put together a homecoming worthy tailgate that covered the East parking lot with an abundance of Maroon and Gold supporters. The eyeball test suggests the stands inside the stadium were filled with an equal number of BCU and FIU fans.

A collective echo of ooohhhhhhhhs rang loudly on the first play of regulation when backup running back and special teams ace Drexler Dixon leveled FIU return man De’Andre Jasper on the game’s opening kickoff. Jasper left the field under his own power but the tone was established; BCU was dead set on playing fast, playing aggressive, and they were up for the challenge of proving they could compete with any team in the nation regardless of classification. For the next 59 and half minutes, it was BCU from the NCAA’s lower tiered Division One Football Championship Subdivision who dominated play.
The Wildcats kept the momentum rolling on their first offensive possession needing only 4 plays to drive 91 yards. Junior running back Anthony Jordan capped the drive with a 58 yard TD scamper and the Wildcats never looked back.

Around the same time as Jordan’s opening score, the slightly late arriving Marching Wildcats found their seats and begin to fill Alfonso Field with that rich, dark sound for which they have become known and FIU Stadium was unofficially rebranded as “The Wildcat Den” for the next 3 hours.

big men

Big men getting it done

Sports cliché number #117 states games are won and loss in the trenches and Saturday’s performance did nothing to dissuade this popular perception. The Wildcat offensive line paved the way for three Wildcat rushers to accumulate at least 60 yards each on the ground and a team average of 6.0 yards per attempt. My calculator tells me that’s good enough for a first down every two rushing tries. The defensive line was equally impressive limiting FIU to a pedestrian 2.2 yards per carry and just 73 yards rushing on the night. Coach Brian Jenkins stated after the game he challenged his offensive and defensive lines and based on the above-mentioned statistics, they answered the challenge pretty well.

FBS teams often enjoy their greatest level of superiority in the trenches when facing FCS opponents; so to see Bethune-Cookman’s big men not just hold up well but dominate the lines of scrimmage was a welcoming sign. Line play has been a tiresome point of criticism of HBCU squads for the better part of the last decade. Let’s hope BCU has solved this riddle as we get deeper into the season.

Take me away

Despite leading the nation in takeaways last season, BCU failed to register a turnover in week one versus Tennessee State. However, the Wildcat defense has seemed to regain their ball-hawking ways and have produced 5 takeaways in the past two games. Tim Burke’s 92 yard pick-six with 14:38 remaining in the contest ended any FIU hopes of a comeback attempt. It was BCU’s third pick-six of the season (Erik Williams and Nick Addison both returned interceptions for touchdowns in the Virginia Union game).

The Wildcats step WAY up in competition when they take on the #8 ranked Florida State Seminoles in Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday night. This will be the first ever match up with the Noles.

BCU leads FIU 14-7 at the half

Bethune-Cookman takes a 14-7 lead to the half over Florida International in Miami.  The Wildcats are controlling both lines of scrimmage rushing for 182 yards on offense on 25 carries.  That is a whopping 7.3 yards per carry.  Defensively BCU is holding the FIU offense to 2.3 yards per rushing attempt.

Anthony Jordan scored on a 58 yard TD run on BCU’s first offensive series capping off a 4 play, 91 yard drive that covered 1:28.  FIU evened the score at 7 apiece on an 8 yard pass from Jake Medlock to T.J. Lowder at the 6:51 mark in the 2nd.

Cary White’s 5 yard TD run pushed BCU’s lead back to 7 and capped a 66 yard scoring drive.

Anthony Jordan is averaging 12.6 yards per rush.

BCU takes over possession when we resume play after half.

Team Stats COOK   FIU
First Downs 11 5
Total Plays 36 29
Total Yards 207 171
Passing 25 128
Rushing 182 43
Penalties 2 / 25 3 / 19
Possession 14:55 14:12
Turnovers 0 0

Who Will Ascend (Week Three) at FIU

 

bethune-cookman    at    florida-international-11

Sat., Sept. 14, 2013

Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium

 

The Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (2-0) travel south this weekend to take on the Florida International Panthers (0-2) in Miami on Saturday night at 6:00 p.m.  The Wildcats will look to improve to 3-0 on the season, 3-0 all-time against FIU, and secure its first ever win over a FBS opponent (FIU had not yet made the jump to the FBS level when the teams last meet in 2003).

Vegas Wild about the Cats

The Vegas sports betting odds opened on Monday with FIU favored by 3 points. The betting line moved 5.5 points in BCU’s favor within an hour of the spread being posted and another .5 point within 2 hours.  By 3:45 p.m. on Monday afternoon, BCU had gone from 3 point underdogs to 3 point road favorites. You heard right; that is not a misprint.   Vegas has a road FCS squad (BCU) favored by 3 points over a FBS team (FIU) in their home stadium.  OUCH!!! 

Vegas sports betting trends suggests the “wise guys” otherwise known as professional gamblers saw value in BCU and bet the line in BCU’s favor.  The line has remained the same for most of the week.

The Matchup

Florida International is ranked dead last in the nation in scoring offense averaging a mere 5 points per game.  Defensively the Panthers are allowing 483 yards per game and rank 108th out of 123 FBS teams.  Ron Turner started 11 new players when FIU took on Maryland in week one. The team has dealt with a rash of injuries in their first 2 games of the year.  The injuries are compounded by the already heavy attrition issues resulting from a tumultuous offseason in which FIU’s leading receiver, Glenn Coleman; starting running back, Kedrick Rhodes, and cornerback Richard Leonard were all ruled ineligible for academic reasons.  Transfer running back Jakhari Gore was kicked off the team for off the field issues.

Meanwhile Bethune-Cookman is averaging 362 yards and 39 points per game on offense while yielding just 215 yards and 8 points per game on defense.

BCU is unbeaten in their two prior meetings with FIU defeating the Panthers 31-0 in 2002 and 24-14 in 2003.  Like this season, BCU was ranked in the FCS Top 25 at the time of their prior clashes with the Panthers (#21 in 2002 and #7 in 2003).

A win on Saturday will mark the first time in the history of the BCU football program and only the 2nd time in MEAC history that a conference school has defeated a current FBS foe.  Florida A&M defeated the University of Miami 16-13 in 1979.

Road Warriors

The Marching Wildcats will join the football team at Alfonso Field on Saturday.  “The Pride” has performed in Nashville, Daytona, Jacksonville, and now Miami in less than 14 days.  The band is also expected to travel to Tallahassee for the Florida State contest on the 21st and will soon make an appearance at Raymond James Stadium for a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game according to what we are being told.  Give it up for the band.

The game will be streamed live at FIUSports.com. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.

Monroe earns 2nd Weekly MEAC honor

white helmetAlex Monroe has been named MEAC Offensive Lineman of the week for the 2nd consecutive week the conference announced on Monday evening. Monroe (LT, 6-5, 305, Sr., Jacksonville, Fla.) paved the way for a season-high 464 yards of total offense in a 66-7 win over Virginia Union.  He blocked for three different quarterbacks and aided B-CU to amass the most points since 2010 (vs. N.C. A&T 67 points; Oct. 28).  He also added two pancake blocks while receiving a grade of 93-percent on his assignments. 

Howard’s Greg McGhee was selected as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s (MEAC) Offensive Player of the Week, the conference announced on Monday. D’Vonte Grant, of North Carolina A&T, was named Defensive Player of the Week.

Other Top Performers

Nick Addison (B-CU) returned an interception 28 yards for a touchdown and collected four tackles, two solo, against Virginia Union.

Jontavious Carter (B-CU) finished the game with two catches for 38 yards and two touchdowns in the Wildcats’ victory over Virginia Union.

Cary White (B-CU) rushed for 62 yards on eight attempts with one touchdown versus Virginia Union.

Who Will Ascend (week two) vs. Virginia Union

Dion Hanks

Dion Hanks

After a hard fought 12-9 road victory over Tennessee State last Sunday, the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats return to the friendly confines of Municipal Stadium to take on the Virginia Union Panthers in today’s home opener.

Like Tenn State, Virginia Union will field a bevy of Floridians (19 are listed on VUU’s roster including 5 from Sanford Seminole) who would love nothing more than to shock the HBCU sports world by upsetting the top ranked team in black college football.  But unlike TSU, Virginia Union, who competes in Division II, does not stand much of a chance in pulling off the upset against Brian Jenkins’ club.

The Panthers finished 5-5 overall and 3-4 in the CIAA a season ago.  VUU was predicted to finish 8th in their conference heading into this season; they can offer just over half the number of scholarships as BCU (NCAA rules limit full football scholarships to 36 for D2 institutions; as compared to 63 for FCS programs); and today’s game is VUU’s season opener.  All signs suggest this should be a decisive BCU win.  But hey, its football and you still have to line-up and play the game.

In fact, Wildcat fans should well remember the last time a CIAA team visited Daytona Beach (in 2009) the Shaw Bears forced 7 BCU turnovers and may have helped seal the fate of then head coach Alvin Wyatt Sr. as the Bears defeated the Wildcats 20-6.  We expect no such recurrence today.  The Wildcats are simply too big, too strong, too fast and they should have no problems imposing their will on the out-manned Panthers.

Look for the BCU running game, led by senior Isidore Jackson, to have a huge day.  Jackson is now less than 400 yards away from becoming Bethune-Cookman’s all-time leading rusher.  Senior wide out Eddie Poole will look to continue his consecutive game pass-catching streak.  No word yet on who will start under center for BCU but expect to see multiple signal callers during the course of today’s action.

Defensively, linebacker Jarkevis Fields and defensive end LeBrandon Richardson paced the Cats with 10 tackles apiece last week.  Defensive tackle Tevin Toney proved to be a disruptive force in the interior adding 7 tackles of his own including 2 tackles-for-loss.  The Wildcat defense should have little trouble in establishing a new line of scrimmage and pressuring the VUU attack.

Hidden Yards Kudos

Perhaps an “under the radar” bright spot from last week’s contest were the BCU return units.  Freshman kick returner Darian Baker averaged 35.5 yards per kick return (long of 41) and Preston Cleckley averaged over 20 yards per punt return (long of 34) in last week’s matchup.  It was a small sampling but so far, so good in the all-important “hidden yards” department.  Another “hidden yards” category in which BCU thrived in week one was the penalty department.  The Wildcats limited themselves to just 5 penalties for 35 yards.  Let’s hope BCU continue to show improvement in these “hidden yards” categories in this game and throughout the course of the season.

DSC_0365Excited to see…..

We have been hearing great things about BCU’s new and improved cheerleading squad.   The cheer squad is now under the direction of Becky and John Woodson and will consist of 30 members and 4 alternates.  The Wildcat cheer squad recently collected a second place finish in ‘fight song cheer’, fourth place finish in ‘sideline cheer’, and were 4th overall in the Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA) camp in Philadelphia.  We are looking forward to seeing the results of the hard work and dedication of the revamped cheer squad.

We are also excited to see the new, more energized and better organized student-led cheer section known as the “Wildcat Crazies”.  Face-paint, body suits, and organized pandemonium, let’s see what you Crazy-Cats have in store for us this season.

What we learned in BCU’s 12-9 win over Tenn State

Credits: TSU Athletics

Credits: TSU Athletics

So we’re a day late on our weekly wrap-up; give us a little grace please. Our favorite HBCU played on Sunday evening and that threw the schedule off. With that being said, let’s get to it.

No Apologies Needed

The Bethune-Cookman Wildcats used a strong defensive effort to grind out a 12-9 victory over Tennessee State in Sunday night’s season opener. While it would have been nice to score more than one offensive touchdown and to put a few more points on the scoreboard, the Wildcats need not apologize for defeating a quality opponent from an automatic qualifier league on their home field. Any win against a team the caliber of Tennessee State is a great win; the score not withstanding.

Brian Jenkins is now 4-1 in “revenge games” with the University of Miami being the only team the Wildcats have succumb to in consecutive tries in the Jenkins’ era.

The Passing Game Still Needs Work

You can make an argument that based on pure talent and athleticism; BCU has the deepest and most gifted receiving corp in the conference. However, if you make that argument please do not attempt to use statistics to support your claim. The Wildcats only gained 98 yards of offense through the air against TSU. Ironically it was QB Jackie Wilson’s 6 yard TD pass to Jordan Murphy that proved to be the game winner on Sunday.

Bethune-Cookman has now played 25 games since last passing for 300 or more yards as a team. Conversely, the Wildcat offense has thrown for less than 100 yards 5 times in that same span. The Beach Cats must develop a consistent passing attack as the season progresses if they hope to have any chance of reaching their ultimate goal. The ability is certainly there; now it’s time to translate that ability into on-the-field production.

Multiple QBs the New Normal

Seniors Brodrick Waters and Jackie Wilson alternated series at quarterback throughout the TSU contest with Waters receiving the starting nod. Both players showed flashes of their potential at times but it seemed the offense as a whole lacked a consistent rhythm or flow. The biggest part of that was the TSU defense no doubt. Let’s face it, that’s an athletic and talented bunch who returned all 11 starters from the OVC’s top defense in 2012. Couple that with the fact that this was just the first game of the season and midseason precision was highly unlikely. There was something left to be desired from a playcalling standpoint and we understand that 3 offensive linemen were making their first starts in a BCU uniform. But maybe, just maybe the three-way split of quarterbacks receiving even number snaps during practice and the revolving door on gameday had something to do with the lackluster offensive performance in week one.

With that being said, we fully suspect multiple QBs will be the norm for this team unless one guy clearly seperates himself from the pack. Oh by the way, Quentin Williams, who led the team in passing yards and passing touchdowns a year ago, did not see the field on Sunday but he will certainly factor into the quarterback discussion at some point during the season.

BIG D

The most impressive unit on the field was by far the BCU defense who delivered a more than solid performance on Sunday. Jarkevis Fields and LeBrandon Richardson each had 10 tackles and Tevin Toney was a disruptive force upfront. The Wildcats kept TSU out of the endzone and limited the Tigers to 3 field goals and just 248 yards of total offense. It was an all-around great performance by the defensive unit. ALL HAIL Defensive Cats!!!!