Gary Quarles
Alabama A&M

What we learned: Bethune-Cookman vs. Alabama A&M

Bethune-Cookman gave defending SWAC Champion Alabama A&M all it could handle in the second half. Here are some takeaways.

Alabama A&M left Daytona Beach, FL with its win streak alive — but just barely.

The reigning SWAC Champs got all they could hand on a wet and soggy Thursday night, emerging with a 30-27 win over Bethune-Cookman University.

Gary Quarles’ impact on Alabama A&M is severely underrated 

Everyone knows that Aqeel Glass is a legit NFL prospect. And he just might have one of the best receiving groups in the FCS. But running back Gary Quarles may be the engine that makes the Alabama A&M offense go. He was just shy of 150 yards from scrimmage for the game (101 on the ground, 46 receiving) and made big plays in both the run game and passing attacks.

He sort of reminds you of Marshall Faulk during the St. Louis Rams’ “Greatest Show on Turf” era. He provides Glass with a security blanket when things break down and must always be accounted for every snap he plays. 

AAMU’s defense has to play better — and smarter

For the third game in a row (dating back to the SWAC Championship Game) AAMU’s defense has closed the game with a game-sealing interception. While it’s a great stat, the underlying issue is that it continues to allow teams to stay in the game until the very end. And eventually, it will catch up with them.

BCU came up with 366 yards of total offense, averaging 6.3 yards per play. It gained nearly 5.5 yards per rush and 13 per pass. Add in that with a bevy of penalties by the defense, and AAMU was fortunate to come out with the win over a BCU team picked to finish fifth in the SWAC East. At this moment, the AAMU defense isn’t good enough to pick up penalties and still expect to win the game on days where the offense doesn’t put up 450, 500, or 600 yards of offense. 

Bethune-Cookman shot itself in the foot and still almost won

B-CU lost its highly-anticipated SWAC opener. It still looks like a MEAC team, and in the second half, it controlled the game and never let Alabama A&M get comfortable. The offense is still feeling its way around, but once it gets a little more continuity, it will knock off at least one or two teams expected to finish higher than it is. Oh, and not committing 14 penalties for 144 yards would probably help its cause as well. 

What we learned: Bethune-Cookman vs. Alabama A&M
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