Argue over the quality of their victories, but you can’t question the production: In four straight games, Bethune-Cookman has won by an average of 40 points per game — and now appears at No. 1 for both offensive and defensive scoring in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
Of course, Bethune’s opponents are a combined 4-14 on the year. (Fellow MEAC members Morgan State and Norfolk State account for all four of those opponent wins, by the way. Independent FCS Savannah State is 0-5, while NAIA opponent Edward Waters is 0-4 on the year.)
Still, Bethune is doing what you are supposed to do against inferior opponents: Dominate.
That started just 16 seconds into the game against Morgan State when, on BC’s very first offensive play, quarterback Matt Johnson hit Eddie Poole for a 70-yard touchdown run and catch down the left sideline. Johnson finished the night 13-of-18 for 261 yards, as Bethune scored its most points on the road in 60 seasons.
“We tried to come out,” Johnson told The (Daytona Beach, Fla.) News-Journal, “and show this was our game.”
The Wildcats now lead the FCS in total offense, with 528.3 yards per game. Bethune also tops the MEAC in rushing offense, passing offense, pass efficiency, interceptions, first downs, third-down conversions and turnover margin. Not bad for a first-year guy replacing the program’s winningest coach ever.
Up next? Delaware State, which arrives for a 4 p.m. Saturday game at BC with, yes, another 0-4 record.
New Bethune coach Brian Jenkins has nothing to apologize for. He’s just playing the schedule, and winning big.
“I think we’ve shown that we can play with everyone in this league,” Jenkins said during the MEAC’s weekly coaches teleconference. “We still have a lot of football left, though. We’ve still got to face great teams. You have South Carolina State, the juggernaut of the league. Hampton, I think they are the sleeping giant of the league. Then you have Delaware State, which plays great football. They are the best 0-4 team I’ve ever seen.”
Despite the record, Delaware State is No. 2 in the league for passing offense — and Bethune is giving up 159 yards in the air per game, while ranking No. 8 in the nine-team conference for pass-defensive efficiency. DSU is also in the middle of the pack for total offense as well as scoring — and can be dangerous on special teams, with a MEAC-leading kickoff-return group.
Focus areas for coach Al Lavan include stopping the run (his squad is surrendering 184 yards on the ground a night) red-zone offense and, most particularly, finishing games.
Delaware State has scored on just 5-for-14 trip inside the opponent’s 20 so far in 2010, and went 0-for-4 in the red zone last week in an eventual 20-14 loss to MEAC foe Hampton.
“We just point out to the guys the good things that we’ve done,” Lavan said told The (Wilmington, Del.) News-Journal. “We’ve moved the ball well, but we just haven’t scored. This past game, we ran 89 plays and scored 14 points. That’s pretty much unbelievable.”
Worse, DSU surrendered a devastating pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns against Hampton, mirroring the team’s season-opening meltdown against Southern in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge — when Delaware State fell 37-27 after giving up 21 points in the final period to a team that hasn’t won since.
DSU will have to play a complete game against Bethune-Cookman, which comes into Saturday 4-0 for the first time since 2003 and is 2-0 in the MEAC for the first time since 2006.
“Right now, our kids are on a high; they are operating our game plan,” Jenkins said. “That’s the only thing we are focusing on. We don’t necessarily focus on the opponent.”
But when he does, Jenkins admits to seeing a dangerous one in Delaware State.
“It’s going to be one hell of a game — and I mean that; it’s not just ‘coach talk,'” Jenkins said. “I look at Delaware State and I say: ‘How is this team 0-4?'”