|Running back Keith Brown will need to find the endzone even more for Bowie State in 2013. (Fam In School photo)|
Conference: CIAA (Northern)
Coach: Damon Wilson
2012 Record: 5-5
2013 Non-Conference Opponents: Saint Anslem College, Concord College
Simply put, this unit has to improve if Bowie State has any hope of getting out of CIAA Northern purgatory. The Bulldogs quarterbacks completed less than 47 percent of their passes, including this year’s probable starter, senior Jared Johnston(46 percent). It’s hard to win with that type of production at any level.
BSU did have a solid run game in 2012, rushing for over 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns. Junior Keith Brown is the leading-returning rusher (564 yards, 6 TDs) and sophomore Quarie Phillip should see his carries rise this season. Johnson is also a solid threat on the ground, as he rushed for over 300 yards and three touchdowns in 2012.
Bowie is also young at receiver this season. The group is lead by tight end Khari Lee, who finished with 27 catches and two touchdowns in 2012, and was named preseason All-CIAA. Outside of Lee, only two other receivers, sophomores Garry Copper and Jamal Chappell caught more than 10 passes in 2012. There are a few sophomores with good size that will have to step up in order for Bowie to improve its passing game. Wilson told the media that cornerback Curtis Pumphrey may see some time as receiver as well.
The offensive line shouldn’t be too much of a concern, as it includes four seniors and a redshirt junior.
The defense is easily the strength of Bowie State heading into 2013. The Bulldogs allowed just 241 points last season, good for third in the league. Leading the charge on the defensive line is Oladimeji Layeni. The senior defensive tackle had a breakout year in 2012, recording 45 tackles (10 for loss) and four sacks. He, fellow defensive tackle Cavin Murray and defensive end Shawn Garland will try to improve a unit that was probably the weak link of the generally strong Bowie Unit, as Bowie allowed over 150 yards on the ground per game last year, fourth worst in the conference.
Shifting to the linebackers, Antoine Young’s name jumps out. The D.C. native made a big splash as a redshirt freshman last season, leading the team with 91 tackles. What the 5’10, 235 pound Young lacks in size, he makes up for in speed and intensity. Look for Anthony Kees to contribute as well.
Defensive back is probably the deepest position on the team as a whole. It starts with cornerback Curtis Pumphrey, who had about as good a freshman year as you can dream about in 2012. Pumphrey picked off a league-high six passes and was named CIAA Defensive Rookie of The Year among other honors. Like Young, he’s undersized but plays much bigger. Senior corner Anthony Gary was another turnover magnet, picking off three passes last season. Delante White (53 tackles) and NKonyeasua Uwandi will also return to provide depth.
Bowie State was picked to finish third in the CIAA Northern Division behind Elizabeth City State and Chowan. It’s a pretty sound pick. The Bulldogs have enough on defense to compete with those to schools, but that can only take you so far. The offense has to figure out a way to make plays this season, not only to put points on the board but to give its defense a rest.
BSU was outscored 69-26 in the first quarter last season. That means the defense spent most of the time trying to play catch up, throwing the ball more than they probably would have liked with less than stellar results.
If BSU can improve its passing game and not regress in the running game, they may have a shot at second place or better. If not, they could fall further down in a division that’s getting better pretty quickly.