Week 2 of the college football season wasn’t wrought with any real surprises as the non-conference slates for most of the Big South went pretty much as predicted with a couple of close contests between divisional opponents and one stronger than expected showing amongst the various blowout losses to FBS squads.
Monmouth had to fight to the very end to grab their first win of the year, a 26-23 victory on the road against a tough Fordham team. The Hawks offense which stalled badly in week one returned to its normal balanced form with 468 total yards (200 rushing, 268 passing).
Charleston Southern got out of the blocks early and often against The Citadel and coasted to a 38-21 opening win behind the record breaking play of graduate wide receiver Garris Schwarting who grabbed a school record 4 touchdown passes. Quarterback Jack Chambers was hot all day long hitting on 19-25 of his throws to six different receivers for 287 yards.
Campbell and Elon were locked in a game of ever changing momentum down in Buies Creek last Saturday night. The Camels had controlled Elon for much of the game before the Phoenix put up a furious rally and overcame a 10-point deficit to take a 24-17 lead late in the fourth quarter.
But Campbell fought back as quarterback Hajj-Malik Williams hit Caleb Snead on a 48-yard touchdown pass, pulling the Fighting Camels to within one point with 1:11 remaining. Instead of going for the PAT, Coach Mike Minter gambled and lost on a two point attempt to win the game as Elon escaped with a 24-23 win.
North Carolina A&T fought Duke to pretty much a stalemate through the first half with a strong ball control offense and trailed just 21-14 at the half before the rejuvenated Blue Devils came alive and exploited the Aggies’ young secondary and exerted their superior depth en route to a 45-17 victory in Durham.
Backup quarterback Kingsley Ifedi subbed in for injured starter Jalon Fowler and put in a very creditable performance rushing for 83 yards and two touchdowns while completing 10-19 for 53 yards as the Aggies as the Aggies converted 9 of 10 third downs in the first half. Freshman running back Bhayshul Tuten was named the Big South Rookie of the Week for his 54 yards on just seven carries (7.7 ypc.) in the loss.
Central Michigan wasted little time in rolling out to a 28-point first half lead and rolled all over Robert Morris 45-0. The Colonials never really found the footing after opting out of the 2020 season then missing their opening game last week because of a Covid outbreak. CMU quarterback Jacob Sirman tossed two touchdown passes in the second quarter and three overall in the contest as Central Michigan (1-1) finished with 515 yards of total offense.
Old Dominion had very little trouble with Hampton as they cruised to an easy 47-7 win before more than 18,000 fans in Norfolk, Va. ODU set a school rushing record of 358 yards against the Pirates including 408 yards in total offense in the first half alone.
Gardner Webb nearly sneaked up on Georgia Southern in Week One and nearly pulled an upset. However last week Charlotte wasn’t about to fall into that “trap game” scenario coming off it’s upset of Duke and were more than ready in their 38-10 win over the Bulldogs. Charlotte managed 474 yards of total offense and converted 7-of-13 third downs. Gardner-Webb was just 2-of-15 on third down and held the football for five minutes or less in the first and fourth quarters.
Georgia Tech unleashed a potent passing attack on Kennesaw State while their defense shut down the triple option of the Owls as the Yellow Jackets ran away and hid in a 45-17 rout in Atlanta. Quarterback Jordan Yates went 17of 23 on passing attempts for 258 yards and four touchdowns in his first career start for Tech.
North Alabama was shut out for the first time in 12 years as the Lions fell to Chattanooga 20-0 on the road. Chattanooga out gained North Alabama 292-90 in total offense including out-rushing the Lions by a wide 194-38 margin.
This week’s Big South action will see two teams with the week off as Robert Morris and North Carolina A&T will both have byes.
In the first big marquee conference match-up of the young season, Monmouth (1-1) will be traveling to Charleston, SC to take on Charleston Southern (1-0) for the early lead in the conference race at 6 p.m. (ESPN+, Nexstar)
A interesting non-conference tilt will feature Kennesaw State (1-1) heading to Wofford (1-1) in a acid test of who has the better wish bone offense at 6 p.m. (ESPN+)
It will be the resumption of the battle of the real HU as Hampton (1-1) travels to Washington D.C. to take on Howard (0-2). Kick off is set for noon. (NBCSN)
Former Big South member Presbyterian (2-0) will be visiting Campbell (0-2) at 6 p.m. (ESPN+) while Gardner Webb (0-2) will be looking for it’s first win of the season when they entertain D-II Lincoln (0-1) at 6 p.m. (ESPN+)
North Alabama (0-2) will have their hands full when they go on the road to take on Jacksonville State (2-0) fresh off their upset of Florida State at 7p.m. (ESPN+)
It’s been a long time since A&T has gone 0-2 to start a football season and for most A&T fans it feels like a out of body experience, and not the good kind. Sorry about the late edition for this week but with A&T being off this weekend allowed me to get caught up on few things around the old homestead which my wife reminded me would probably be in my best interest to do so – if you know what I mean.
Coming off of two years of non activity was tough enough to deal with in the season’s opener against a Furman team that is now beginning to look like the team that everyone is going to be chasing out of the Southern Conference.
Following it up with Duke the very next week wasn’t the ideal situation but the Aggies gave a very good account of themselves in the first half and showed what they could become as this season moves along but there’s some things that will have to be addressed, especially on the defensive side – specifically A&T’s lack of a pass rush and distinct holes in middle coverage.
Because of Covid-19, practices this year have been pretty much off limits to the general public and that might be a good thing with the first two weeks of 2021 now in the books. You can bet that the entire coaching staff has taken extra time this week go over both game tapes quite extensively, evaluating not only their players but themselves as well.
The extra week off should give A&T some much needed teaching time now that there is now an actual body of work to work from. They can dissect the communication deficiencies and confusion with the young defensive backs that have been thrust into battle a far earlier than anyone had anticipated a month ago.
They’ll need to grow up real fast because of the uncertainty surrounding the health of a couple of missing starters. The defense will also need to nail down an answer that only stop the run but can pass cover in that middle zone. The Aggies got end Devin Harrell back into the lineup last week and hopefully Jermaine McDaniel will make it back by next Saturday. Missing both of these experienced all-conference players at the same time is no doubt one big reason for the loss of an effective pass rush in these first two games.
Offensively there are less unknown questions to be answered than it was form week 1. There should be an even more continuing leap in improvement with the execution within the offensive line which was the one big demonstrative bright spot along with a mistake free kicking game in the Duke loss.
Additional help in the backfield appears to have emerged in the Duke game with the trio of Kashon Baker, Freddie Graves, and Bhayshul Tuten in the running game and perhaps that may be the answer to help super senior Jah-Maine Martin to get untracked before entering conference play in two weeks.
The other good news is that there aren’t any more questions about what would happen if starting quarterback Jalen Fowler were to ever go down. Well that very scenario played out at Duke when Fowler was held out as a precautionary step after injuring his back against Furman.
Kingsley Ifedi showed that he is more than capable in stepping up when called upon. Ifedi was extremely effective with his decision making, his running and timely passing in a grinding ball control offense that more than held its own against the Blue Devils for the better half of three quarters.
Not to get to far ahead to next week’s game with N.C. Central but the fact that the competition, at least on paper, shouldn’t be as formidable as A&T’s first two opponents, it is still the biggest game of the year for either team.
And given that A&T has won three straight in the series plus the annihilations in the last two meetings, fans need to prepare themselves for a culture shock. This is not going to be a walkover. Whatever has happened over the last few games between these two should be tossed the window.
Be very aware that NCCU is more than capable of not only beating A&T but now is looking to winning the MEAC as well. They may be young but the Eagles are vastly improved. They have upgraded at nearly every position from 2019, possess a ball hawking secondary, and have developed a real hunger under third year coach Trei Oliver. I’m just saying.
“A word to the wise is enough. The old proverb is, forewarned, forearmed.”
Enjoy your free weekend.