By Donal Ware
College Sports Journal
PHILADELPHIA, PA. — Week 4 in HBCU football saw better results than week 3. Only two teams were shut out and teams fared much better against Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) opponents as a whole.
Delaware State forced Cincinnati into six turnovers and hung around before ultimately falling 23-7. Bethune-Cookman played Miami reasonably well, falling 38-10.
Three of the most important results that came out of these two games are that both Delaware State and Bethune-Cookman came away relatively injury free, they played top-level competition which will prepare both for tough games this Saturday and they got paid – Bethune-Cookman in excess of $400,000 (the Wildcats didn’t even have to spend money on a flight as the distance between Daytona Beach and Miami Gardens is just a little more than four hours) and Delaware State made $325,000.
The first coaching casualty of the season saw Southern reassign head coach Stump Mitchell. Mitchell was fired the day after the Jaguars fell to Mississippi Valley State 6-0 on national television. The Delta Devils have won just two games in their last 25.
Mitchell was not the coach the rabid alumni base wanted when he was hired two years ago. Couple that with the way the Jaguars lost to the Delta Devils and Southern athletic director Dr. William Broussard decided to go in a different direction.
Defensive coordinator Dawson Odums is now the interim head coach.
Boxtorow National Game of the Week:
Tennessee State (3-0) vs. Bethune-Cookman (2-1)
This could turn out to be the game of the year. B-CU and TSU are currently No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the Boxtorow FCS HBCU national coaches’ poll.
Rarely do you see a game where an out-of-conference, non-classic game between two heavy weight teams is played. As a matter of fact this is a home and home, as the Wildcats will go to Nashville next season.
B-CU head coach Brian Jenkins is no stranger to the OVC having been an assistant coach at Eastern Illinois for five years.
He wanted this type of game because he wants his team to be one of the elite programs in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). My guess is none of the “elite” programs wanted to play him.
The Tigers look to be on the way back to being elite and head coach Rod Reed is no stranger to B-CU having served as an assistant coach.
TSU has been down for some years, but last year finished 5-6, 4-4 in the OVC and was still in contention for the OVC title the last game of the season.
The Tigers have been an offensive juggernaut this year and part of that is due to the play of quarterback Michael German. German had a career day completing 27-of-36 passes for 318 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He has completed 63 percent of his passes on the season with five touchdowns and two interceptions.
His leading receivers are Florida transfer tight end A.C Leonard and wide out Travis James who lead the team with 13 receptions a piece. Six receivers have caught six or more balls this season.
The Tigers running game has been equal to the task, averaging 161.7 yards per game. Trabis Ward is averaging 95.7 yards rushing per game with five touchdowns. Telvin Hooks is a great complement and is averaging 6.9 yards per carry.
The Tigers need to improve on their pass defense and will have to be sharp as the Wildcats could play three quarterbacks, all who have different skill sets. The Tigers give up 246 yards passing per game, but have given up only four touchdowns through the air and have picked off five passes, led by Steven Godbolt who has three.
Bethune-Cookman quarterback Jackie Wilson, l, hands off to running back Isidore Jackson in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Miami, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, in Miami.
Meanwhile the Wildcats, coming off the 38-10 loss to Miami, showed they could run the football, racking up 233 yards.
The two-headed monster of Isidore Jackson and Rodney Scott has combined to rush for 595 yards and four touchdowns. Also, throw in quarterback Brodrick Waters’ 169 yards and 8.0 yards per carry.
Speaking of quarterbacks, the Tigers may have to contend with three. Waters was the hero in the win over Alabama State, but Jenkins has stuck with Jackie Wilson as his starter the last two games.
Quentin Williams, the former Mr. Football in the state of Florida, got his first action against Miami, completing 5-of-9 passes for 69 yards, no touchdown and no interceptions. Only two touchdowns have been thrown this season between all the three quarterback.
Wide receivers Eddie Poole (22.1 yards per catch) and KJ Stroud (12.5 yards per catch) have caught eight passes a piece and are the prime receivers.
Defensively, the Wildcats are led by defensive end LeBrandon Richardson, who has four sacks.
The Wildcats will need to pressure German and force him out of the pocket as well as trying to contain the Tigers’ running game.
The Wildcats are giving up 378 yards of total offense per game.
Florida A&M (1-2, 1-0) vs. Delaware State (1-2, 0-0)
As was mentioned, the Hornets forced six turnovers against Cincinnati. Despite giving up 467 yards of total offense, the Hornets did a decent job of containing quarterback Muncie Legaux, who passed for 208 yards and threw two interceptions.
The Hornets need to be opportunistic against the Rattlers. They must put pressure on the quarterback as they have accumulated only three sacks as a team.
Offensively, senior quarterback Nick Elko has been solid so far this season, completing close to 60 percent of his passes for 605 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
His favorite targets are two of the best in the MEAC in Justin Wilson (18-180-1) and Travis Tarpley (19-181-1). Running back Malcolm Williams has been a pleasant surprise, having rushed for 236 yards, 4.8 yards per carry and one touchdown.
The Rattlers are coming off a blowout 44-20 victory over Hampton, the first victory of the season for FAMU. (Second, if you ask head coach Joe Taylor, who contends that a touchdown was taken away from the Rattlers twice as they drove to the goal line in the game against Tennessee State.)
Against Hampton, the Rattlers ran for 257 yards as a team, led by James Owens’ 11 carries for 157 yards and three touchdowns.
Quarterback Damian Fleming was extremely efficient completing 21-of-28 passes for 184 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
FAMU will have to settle down defensively as the Pirates racked up 474 yards of total offense. TSU managed 401 yards and Oklahoma exploded for 662 yards against the Rattlers.
Miles (2-1, 0-0) vs Albany State (1-2, 0-0)
This is a rematch of last year’s SIAC Championship Game that Miles won 20-17. After a 31-30 loss to North Alabama to start the season, the Golden Bears struggled a bit before defeating Shaw 28-15 on the road.
Last week they got a nice victory over West Georgia 44-37. Quarterback David Thomas has been good this year, completing 67 percent of his passes for 808 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions.
Missing in action has been preseason All-SIAC running back Jordan Lewis who has just 13 carries for 21 yards. The Golden Bears average just 98 yards per game as a team.
The offense has been fortunate to outscore – and almost outscore opponents – as defensively the Golden Bears are giving up 28 points and 380 yards of total offense per game.
This has not been a typical season for the Golden Rams who have gotten off to the 1-2 start, including a heartbreaking 13-12 loss to Elizabeth City State last week. Running back Nathan Hoyte has provided most of the offense (110 yards rushing per game).
Quarterback David Kooi hasn’t quite gotten acclimated, only completing 47 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and four interceptions.
And he has very capable weapons in preseason all-conference selection Ronnie Tubbs (6-56-0) and Orion Ponder (6-90-0).
ASU has been great against the run, giving up only 65.3 yards per game.
Against Miles, they will need to be better in pass defense than their 216 yards per game indicates and defensive back Dexter Moody (two interceptions) will have to be opportunistic.
Players of the Week
Central State QB Michael Wilson
5-11, 230, Junior., Oxon Hill, Maryland
Completed 15-of-21 passes for 196 yards, 3 TDs 0 INTs; rushed 11 times for 125 yards and 1 TD in the Marauders 28-22 victory over Urbana.
Jackson State wide receiver Rico Richardson
6-1, 185, Senior., Natchez, Mississippi
Had 8 receptions for 236 yards and 3 TDs in the Tigers 45-35 victory over Texas Southern
Editor's Note: Donal Ware is one of the leading voices in Historically Black College and University football. His Boxtorow.com website, popular articles for such publications as Jet magazine and regular radio shows for such networks as Sirius/XM have given him a high profile in the college and professional sports world.