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Thunder Cats: Can BCU Break The MEAC’s Playoff Drought?

Running back Isidore Jackson is the MEAC’s leading returning rusher. (Hail Wildcats Photo)

Conference: MEAC
Coach: Brian Jenkins
2012 Record: 9-3
2013 Non-Conference Opponents: Tennessee State, Virginia Union, FIU, Florida State
2013 Classics: Florida Blue Classic 10/23 (vs. FAMU)

Eddie Poole caught 32 passes and five touchdowns in 2013. (HailWildcats.com)

Offense: 

In a conference where quarterback play is an issue, Brian Jenkins has the luxury of bringing back three signal-callers who won games for him 2012. Senior Jackie Wilson started the first three games of the season before injuries ended his season. Broderick Waters was especially effective on the ground, running for 570 yards in 2012, good for sixth in the MEAC. The best of the bunch, though, is junior Quentin Williams. Williams was nearly as prolific with his legs as Waters (he ran for 445 yards in 2012) and much more efficient as a passer, completing 59 percent of his passes and throwing more than five times as many touchdowns as interceptions (11-2). All three of these guys could start for several other MEAC teams, which gives Jenkins a huge advantage.

Running back is another position of strength for BCU, as feature back Isidore Jackson returns for his senior season. The 5’10, 205 pound senior heads into 2013 as a two-time All-MEAC selection, and the leading returning rusher in the conference. He won’t have to carry the load alone, though, as Anthony Jordan returns after missing the 2012 season. Jordan rushed for nine touchdowns as a sophomore in 2011.

Receiver is probably the shallowest of all skill positions for the Wildcats, but that doesn’t mean the cupboard is dry. Eddie Poole, last season’s leading receiver, is back and primed for a big year. The 6’4, 195 pound senior finished with 32 catches for 432 yards and five touchdowns in 2012. Outside of Poole, though, the Wildcat receivers are thin at experience catching the ball, with only senior Preston Cleckley surpassing the 10 catch mark last year. Look for Jhomo Gordon to be a bigger part of the offense in his junior year after averaging 19 yards per catch in 2012.

The offensive line is a solid unit, led by junior Terrance Hackney and supported by seniors Rashard Brown and Alex Monroe.

LeBrandon Richardson recorded 8.5 sacks in his sophomore season (BCUAthletics.com)

Defense:

Leading the charge for the defensive line is LeBrandon Richardson. The 6’2, 255 pound defensive end from Miami took the MEAC by storm his first season at BCU after transferring from the University of Central Florida. He finished with 13 tackles for loss, including 8.5 sacks. Expect more of the same in 2013. He will be joined by Tevin Toney, a defensive tackle who excels against the run and rushing the passer.

Headlining a group of veteran linebacker is Jarkevious Fields, who was named the conference’s preseason Defensive Player of The Year last month. Fields led BCU with 103 stops last season, and also broke up four passes. Senior Nelsely Marcellon (51 tackles, 5.5 TFL) and junior Tavarous Dantzler (32 tackles) will also provide support.

There are a number of outstanding secondaries in the MEAC in 2013, and Bethune-Cookman is as deep as any of them. It starts with junior Nick Addison, who seemed to be everywhere last season. The 6’2, 180 pound safety finished second on the team with 68 tackles, and led the team with four interceptions and 11 pass break ups. He is joined by two solid corners in Tim Burke (3 INTs) and Dion Hanks (2 INTs). Redshirt junior Tyrone Bouie (2 INTs) should see more playing time this fall.

Outlook:

There is a reason Bethune-Cookman was predicted to win repeat as MEAC Champion: they are stacked. They return All-MEAC level performers at practically every position, which few teams in any league can say. Three of Bethune’s top players last season, Williams, Richardson and Addison, were just sophomores. In just three short years, Brian Jenkins has built a team that has a really good chance at not only winning back-to-back MEAC Championships, but also winning the conference’s playoff game since his freshmen where in elementary school.

Bethune has a good running game, a competent passing offense with Williams at the helm and a defense filled with playmakers. Add in one of the best young coaches at the FCS level, and you’ve got a team that could be ready to make a significant playoff run. Their early schedule is tough, as Tennessee State is coming off an 8-3 record, and FBS opponents Florida International and Florida State will be favored, but if they put up a good showing in those three games, folks in Daytona could have themselves a real, live FCS playoff team.

Prediction: 9-3 MEAC Champs

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. jkjkbell

    August 8, 2013 at 12:27 am

    Looking forward to the season and hopefully the Wildcats can finally breakthrough that decade long winless playoff streak by MEAC teams.

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