Introspection Is Good For The Soul
By Craig R. Turner
Published: November 5, 2021

This past weekend was one where the two powers in the Big South continued to separate from the rest of league moving ever so closer toward a much anticipated showdown coming in the season finale.

Monmouth put a damper on North Carolina A&T’s homecoming last week by pulling away in the second half to defeat the Aggies 35-16 before a capacity crowd of 21,500 in Greensboro, N.C.

Quarterback Tony Muskett threw for two touchdowns and ran for another pair of scores as Monmouth (5-3, 4-0 Big South) defeated North Carolina A&T (3-5, 2-3) 35-16 to stay unbeaten in Big South action. The Hawk defense did not allow a second half point as Monmouth pulled away, handing NC A&T its first homecoming loss since the 2010 season.

#8th-ranked Kennesaw State (7-1, 4-0) scored a last-second touchdown to secure a 34-30 home win against the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs (3-5, 1-3). Set up by a huge kickoff return, the Owls used the passing attack to get the ball down to the GWU 15-yard line on just two plays.

Sophomore quarterback Xavier Shepherd then found Xavier Hill on a 15-yard touchdown pass to give the Owls a 34-30 lead with 11 seconds remaining in the game. This was the third KSU scoring drive under one minute in the game.

Shepherd went 12-for-14 passing with a career-high 209 yards and four touchdowns. He also became the first quarterback in KSU history to throw four touchdown passes in a single game

Jack Chambers accounted for 357 yards and two touchdowns, and Charleston Southern (3-4,2-3) held off visiting Campbell (3-5,2-3) 27-14 on Saturday at Buccaneer Field.

Entering the fourth quarter facing a 20-0 deficit, Campbell clawed back into it with a pair of quick scores. But after a CSU 3-and-out, the Camels’ drive stalled in CSU territory, turning the ball over on downs before Chambers gave Charleston Southern an insurance score with a 55-yard touchdown run.

Nick Bisceglia’s 38-yard field goal with five seconds left helped Robert Morris (2-2,3-4) to run its home winning streak at Joe Walton Stadium to seven Saturday with a 38-35 triumph over Hampton ( 3-5,1-3).

In a game that featured 10 scoring drives of 60 yards or longer, RMU trailed, 35-27, after Hampton’s Jett Duffey rushed for his fifth touchdown of the contest on a four-yard scamper with 9:24 to go.

This Week’s Big South Football TV Schedule – Saturday, Nov. 6

Kennesaw State at Robert Morris – 12pm, ESPN+
North Carolina A&T at Charleston Southern – 1pm, ESPN+
Gardner-Webb at Hampton – 1pm, ESPN+/Nexstar
North Alabama at Monmouth – 1pm, ESPN3

Charleston Southern’s season has been trending up and down from one week to the next as N.C. A&T comes to town. After a somewhat promising start against a tough early slate of games during first weeks of September and early October, the Buccaneers have struggled a bit even with a BSC win last week against Campbell.

The one thing that has been trending up for the Bucs is that they have a tremendous passing game spearheaded by the likely conference offensive MVP in senior quarterback Jack Chambers (5-10,180). Chambers has put up X-Box type numbers this year hitting on 174-304-7 attempts for 1999 yards and 15 TDs while rushing for 463 yards and 5 TDs. Chambers is a true dual threat with a strong arm and is almost impossible to contain whether running the RPO or improvising off the scramble.

Chambers has topped the 400-yard mark in passing three times this season and on the receiving end none have been better than the quartet of Cayden Jordan (6-2, 200,Jr.), Garris Schwarting (5-10,189, GR), Geoff Wall (5-9,185, GR), and Demetrius Jones (6-4,190, Sr.). All four have over 300 yards apiece in receptions with Jordan the high at 584.

Senior guard J.T. Melton (6-2,315) is an all conference stalwart up front along with sophomores Jacob Tylski (6-4, 273), Ben Moxley (6-1,305), Darius Meeks (6-3,290) and Preston Nichols (6-3,275).

On defense CSU is extremely active in their 3-4 alignment led by do-everything tackle Shaundre Mims (6-0,276, Sr.), graduates end John Chiaramonte (6-2,238), linebackers Garrett Sayegh (5-9,210, Sr.) Nick Salley (5-10,225, GR.) Kyle Sivarth (6-1,218, GR.) and star safety Cody Cline (6-1, 208, Jr. )

Now that GHOE has come and gone along with the unbeaten homecoming streak at 10 years, the only goal left for this season is to try to salvage a winning record and gather some positive momentum heading to next season.

If we’re being perfectly honest that is going to be tall order to fill given the massive amount of injuries that keep accumulating on the defensive side and a offense that has been totally ineffectual over the last month.

I spoke to a lot a folks post-game last Saturday, some just casual fans who show up just a few times a year for only the biggest games, some ardent hardcore A&T football supporters, and some present and ex-coaches at very different levels of the sport.

Even though there were a laundry list of various reasons given for what they thought have attributed to A&T’s disappointing performance this year they seem to have one item on their lists that was almost universal – too much predictability and no discipline.

Having a supposed tried and true formula for success in not just only in football but in life as well is good thing. No question about. But the key to any successful formula is based around a principle of being able to adapt and modify one’s techniques and methods within said framework as conditions and circumstances change.

Taking that a step further, my older brother, a former U.S. Marine Corps officer and I got into a discussion a little earlier in the week about how the coaching staff seems to be locked into pattern of repetition that they either are unconditionally committed to no matter what or they are unable to change gears this far in.

I harped on the fact that I thought this team appeared to be ill-equipped or unprepared to deal with real adversity – short on the preparation and teaching aspects since we had been so accustomed to winning and winning big over the last half decade.

He pointed out to me that maybe the program needed forget the plug and play approach to adopt a new but old proven axiom that his beloved Corps had always predicated itself on – Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.

Improvise– No matter how many games you’ve won in the past, remember its exactly that, in the past. To quote Mike Tyson – “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Have a real plan in place but leave room for flexibility enough to shift your plans to take advantage of situations as they arise. Key phrase is here is “take advantage of situations.”

Be aggressive instead of always opting to play it safe. We do it everyday in own lives. Kind of like substituting that old stray pack of Splenda you found in your pocket the other day when there’s no sugar in the house for your morning coffee. Sure, it may not be exactly what you want or the same taste that you’re used to but it still gets the job done.

Adapt – This season underscores the fact that things in the Big South are going to be whole lot different from what was planned for. There should be no illusions from here on out. A&T has going to have to be more creative in their schemes. Nothing particularly radical but this staff must find a new way of doing old things and see things with a new eye. Those old chicken recipes in the book are need of some serious seasoning.

Overcome – Murphy’s law states anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Always remember this, expect it and be prepared to deal with it. Having all the little things go right all the time is the exception rather than the rule. Whether the culprits be injuries, academics, off the field distractions, “bone head” mistakes or whatever the case may be, the “P- Principle” should always be in effect (Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance).

There are some other important details I think should be considered on the short list going forward with this staff and the program in general as this season begins to wind down.

Coach Washington needs to not only convey a very clear and distinct statement of who and what he wants his team to be about but have those really tough discussions and make the tough decisions as to whether the current path is the right one and does he have the right people in place to get the program back to where it needs to be. Those are questions that will have to be asked and answered in 2022.

The entire A&T athletic/football brain trust must have a clear understanding of what failed them in 2021 and be brutally honest and mindful in assessing its own strengths and weaknesses of the football program in evaluating this first season in the Big South. Year 2 cannot be another one of ambiguity but need to be one of clear cut progress.

Anything short of that will then be unacceptable.


Charleston Southern – 35

N.C. A&T – 17

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