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Friday, September 19, 2014

Special Teams Very Problematic

During the first three games of Delaware State Hornets football season, I witnessed the biggest Achilles heal that head coach Kermit Blount will be facing for the remaining nine games of the regular season: Special teams play.

In the football world whether it is high school, college, or the pros, special teams will be the key to whether your team wins or lose the game. Simple right? Not exactly and the reason why is because most football fans kind of ignore special teams plays but often slowly most fans realized that special teams plays can make or break a game or a season.

Here are some of the special teams problems the Hornets are facing so far this season through three games:

1st game: DSU vs Monmouth (8/30/14)
With the Hornets leading 14-7 in the first quarter, Kamau Dumas of Monmouth University return the kickoff 84 yards to the DSU 11 yard line. That set up allowed the Hawks to scored a field goal on a 4 play, 5 yard drive to cut the Hornet lead to 14-10.

Then on the ensuring kickoff, the Hornets Mike Davis fumbled on the kickoff that was recovered by the Hawks at the DSU  that led to another short field for Monmouth that resulted in another field goal on a 5 play, 22 yard scoring drive to cut the Del State lead to 14-13.

In the opening kickoff of the 3rd quarter, the Hawks Lavon Chaney returned 52 yards to the DSU 40 yard line that resulted in a 6 play, 40 yard touchdown scoring as Monmouth climbed up their lead to 35-21.

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2nd Game DSU vs University of Delaware (9/7/14)

On the opening kickoff the Blue Hens Michael Johnson returns it 38 yards to the UD 40 yard line. This set up a 11 play, 60 yard drive that resulted in a Blue Hen touchdown to put Delaware up 7-0.

In the 2nd quarter it was Johnson again with his burst of speed returned a kickoff of 46 yards to the DSU 44 yard line that set up a 2 play, 44 yard drive that resulted in another Blue Hen touchdown to go up 14-3.

With under five minutes left in the 4th quarter, the Hornets Malcolm Williams scored a rushing touchdown to put DSU on the board, however Mitchell Ward's extra point was no good resulting just six points and not seven points.
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3rd game DSU vs Towson (9/13/14)

On the opening kickoff, Jamaal Jackson fumbled the ball on the opening kickoff, resulting in a Towson field goal to take a early 3-0 lead.

Now here's the game changer: With the Hornets holding on to a 7-6 lead, DSU punter Jeremiah McGeough recovered a very high snap from long snapper Anthony Mengoni that sailed over McGeough's head. Jeremiah tried to run and punt it away quickly rugby style, but Towson blocked the punt and the Tigers Fred Overstreet recovered the blocked punt and ran back for a touchdown to give the Tigers a 14-7. Just like that the momentum was gone and so was the lead just like that.

To make matters worse DSU gave up a 81 yard punt return for a touchdown by Derrick Joseph that resulted as the nail in the coffin. In other words Towson's lead was out of reach for the Hornets to catch up losing 21-7 .

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Special teams have really been a problem for Delaware State through three games but they have to clean up as soon as possible because DSU has some tough game ahead like Temple this Saturday, Savannah State next week and then a two game road trip starting with the defending MEAC champion Bethune-Cookman and Norfolk State, then a two game home stand with North Carolina A&T at Homecoming followed by their rival Hampton.

As you can see the Hornets can't afford to make mental mistakes on special teams like letting their opponents get into good field position, making turnovers, and missing important kicks like field goals and extra points. If coach Blount and his team don't clean it up by the time MEAC conference play arrives, then DSU will be a in for a very long season.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thomas Back From Injury



After sitting out two games due to a ankle injury, Albert "A.J." Thomas is back action as the Delaware State Hornets men's basketball team conclude a three game road trip as they take on George Washington of the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Thomas made eight points, five assists, and two rebounds during the Hornet's home opener versus Cairn University back on November 2. On that same night A.J. was the named the starter at point guard and was picking up where he left off from last season making plays and learning new ones along the way.

No word yet at this time on whether or not Thomas is in the starting lineup come tip off but none the less he will get a chance a play tonight. The only question I have is how many minutes will coach Greg Jackson Sr. let A.J. stay on the floor?

My guess is not very long due to the fact he might play a little rusty trying to drive to the basket score or passing the ball to his fellow teammates. After the buzzer sounds tonight, win or lose, he will need a lot of rest and practice between Wednesday and Sunday when DSU play University of Delaware this Monday night in Dover. I guarantee Delaware's Jarvis Threatt (the brother of DSU alumni Jay Threatt) will give Thomas a whole lot of problems on offense and defense.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

From Goat to Hero



Throughout most of the season the Delaware State Hornets special teams has been inconstant. From giving up punt/kickoff returns for touchdowns, bad snaps, and bad punts. To blocked punts, blocked field goals, missed field goals, and fumbling the football on the returns.

During Saturday's 22-20 victory over Howard, Delaware State's special teams had to deal with another tough and speedy Bison team that burned you from all angles.

Lets start with the 2nd quarter after the Hornets tied the game at 7-7. Mitchell Ward made a squib bounce kick to Howard's Richard Aiyegoro and Hornets special teams coverage couldn't catch up to Aiyegoro's speed as he went 75 yards for the score. That helped the Bison retake the lead at 14-7.

With less than 65 seconds left before halftime, DSU scored on a 80 yard drive to cut the Bison lead to 14-13 when Ward missed his 1st extra point of the season. He made 43 straight extra point prior to that miss.

Then in the 4th quarter, the Hornets cut the Howard to 20-19 when punter Marco Kano couldn't hold on to the high snap and gets tackled in a hurry by Howard's special teams defense.

So whats left for the Hornets to do? This is where Ward became a hero with less than 1:58 left:

Mitchell made a successful onside that went 10 yards when his teammate wide receiver Milton Williams used his six foot, six inch height to out jumped almost the entire the Bison special teams to recover the onside kick and give Delaware State their chance to win the game.

The Hornets started their drive at midfield and drove it all the way to the Bison four yard with one second left. So what they Ward do to make up from his two missed extra points, kicked a game winning 28 yard field goal that send Hornet fans, his family, and their football team into a celebrating frenzy. After making the game winning field goal Ward ran all the way to the other end of the endzone only to be dog piled by his teammates.

You know what, that game winning kick remind me of Peter Gardner back in 2007 when he made two game winning field goals on the road vs South Carolina State and Winston-Salem State. He also made a game tying field goal when time expired in regulation vs Norfolk State at home to forced over and we all know what happened in overtime.

A great win for Delaware State and a great win for special teams that handled pressure with the game on the line.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Morre Out For The Season



As reported on the dsuhornets.com website under the game notes for today's game vs Howard, Hornets safety Devon Morre is out for the rest of the season due to a knee injury.

Morre hurt his knee at practice three weeks ago and since then showed no signs of healing whatsoever. Devon was leading the team in tackles at 7.7 tackles a game and he is also ranked 13th in the MEAC in that same category before the injury occur.

Now the Hornets defense will have to rely on linebacker Ernest Adjel to helped lead the charge. A task he has no problem with leading the Hornets in tackles (7.9) and 15th in the MEAC in that same category.

Lets hope the Hornets defense can kick it into another gear in Morre's absence for the season. The Hornets defense will have to fill in the gaps and make big tackles if they want to have a winning record. So far DSU is 1-1 in Moore's absence.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Back Down to Earth

During the Hornets 30-7 road defeat at the hands of Hampton back on Saturday, DSU was supposed to be in playoff mode. Instead their battleship and their chances of staying in the MEAC Title hunt sunk faster than you say, "Man overboard!!!"

The down hill started when the Hornets rushing attack ran into brick wall early and often. After gaining over 100 plus yards during their two game winning streak, the Hornets finished the game with just 42 yards rushing, a scene we saw all too familiar with throughout most of the season.

Coach Kermit Blount wanted to the played clock game, instead, the clock game lead into unsuccessful drives that ended up in punts and turnovers throughout the game.

Speaking of turnovers quarterback Cory Murphy had another bad game with two interceptions and a lost fumble. The reason why Murphy kept turning the football over was due to the hurried pressure by the Hampton defense that carried throughout most of his snaps forcing him to run out the pocket and make bad throws. A problem we see all too familiar with since the 2nd game of the season. No wonder Murphy was pulled midway through the 3rd quarter by coach Blount after committing his 3rd turnover of the game.

Enter redshirt freshman backup quarterback Osayah Obado, and just like Murphy he didn't do much better going only 5 for 15 for 52 yards and getting sacked four times. Just like his teammate Murphy, Obado was being pressured by the Pirate defense and getting knocked down to the ground before leaving the game in the 4th quarter due to an injury.

The only bright side for the Hornets offense was a perfect two minute drill when the Hornets were down 10-0 with less than 2 minutes to go when DSU used a 15 play 90 yard drive that resulted in a Milton Williams touchdown catch that cut the Pirate lead 10-7.

Second half was all down hill the Hornet defense can't stop the run all 2nd half including giving up 79 touchdown run by Hampton's Jorrian Washington. To add salt to the wound, after two field goals in between the 3rd and 4th quarter, Pirate quarterback Bryan Bailey found Twarn Mixson for a 75 yard scored with 3:20 left in the 4th quarter to make the score even worst than it already is.

The Hornets defense really missed their presence of linebacker Devon Moore who missed his second straight game due to a knee injury. No wonder the Hornet defense left gaps throughout most of the game giving up 225 yards rushing and also giving up big plays that lead to Hampton points. That's something that the Hornets just can't let that continued.

There were some bright spots for the Hornets defense forcing Hampton to commit three turnovers (two interceptions and a lost fumble) and making a couple of sacks. Other than that, the Hornets defense gave up a chunk of big plays that helped Hampton continued their scoring drives.

Following their defeat, the Hornets football team realized that mistakes like that does not only make you lose games but also loses their chances to stay in the MEAC title hunt. I hope the Hornets can learn from this game and move forward from there.

Hornets needs to focus on building a new winning streak if they want to have a winning record in tact for next year starting with Howard at home this week.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Offense Playing the Clock Game



Has anyone noticed anything different about the Hornets offense during the past two games? Anyone? Give up? Well I'll tell you what happened.

It appears the Delaware State Hornets football team were playing the clock game when it comes to scoring drives. The reason for this so that their opponents don't get a chance to scored a lot point especially in the 2nd half.

Lets recap the clock game so far:

On October 12, DSU and Norfolk State were tied at 7-7 with 14:09 left in the 4th quarter at Homecoming. The Hornets started their drive at their own 39 yard line and drove down the field by getting five 1st downs, including converting on two 4th down plays deep inside Spartan territory. The result of the play a 1 yard scored by quarterback Cory Murphy. That scoring drive took 18 plays, 61 yards in eight minutes and 42 seconds. You can also thank the rain for helping the Hornets running game in a 14-7 victory.

Lets go to the next game October 19 when DSU went on the road to play North Carolina A&T. Lets fast forward to the 3rd quarter with the Hornets leading 6-0 with 13:22 left. DSU started their drive at their own 35 yard line and used a 15 play, 79 yard touchdown drive in six minutes and 39 seconds to helped the Hornets take a 12-0 lead and held on to a 12-7 victory. 11 of those 15 plays were running plays that resulted in 58 yards rushing on that touchdown drive.

The Hornets rushing game is improving a lot in scoring drives thanks to 125 yards vs Norfolk State and 130 vs North Carolina A&T. That way the pressure will off of Murphy because he was throwing a lot passes during the 1st five games of the season.

If the Hornets can keep this running on track during the final four games of the season (at Hampton, at home vs Howard, at Florida A&M, and at home vs Morgan State) then this Hornets team could have more than four wins doing the season. That way the Hornet fans criticism will be at a very small minimum, but then again I could be wrong.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hornets Offense Unbalanced



During the Hornets 21-7 lost at the hands of defending MEAC Champion Bethune-Cookman in their home opener, the Hornets offense rely on the air once again and just like Delaware, Towson, and North Dakota State, DSU couldn't get the running game going.

Hornets finished the game with only 10 yards rushing, yes I said it 10 yards rushing. To me it's very disappointing the way the Hornets coaching staff have three very good running backs of Nagee Jackson, Dae-Hon Chenug, and Malcolm Williams and either of them can't help take the pressure off of quarterback Cory Murphy.

Speaking of Murphy, he threw an interception for the fifth straight game. He finished with two picks for the game including a turning point late in the 3rd quarter when the Hornets were driving in Bethune-Cookman territory. I don't remember a Hornet quarterback who can throw one or more interception in  five consecutive games. Wait, I know who threw one or more interceptions in five straight games: Anthony Glaud back in 2009, Vashon Winton in 2008, and Bryan Botts in 2004.  

I understand Murphy is learning the system but Coach Bluntt and his coaching staff need to realized in order to have a great offense you have to run the football in until the defense gets tired. I know the offensive line is thin with one experience lineman and four inexperience lineman but at least tried running the football when its 1st down or 2nd/3rd down and short.

If this method continues throughout the rest of the season, rest assured the Hornets will managed only three or four wins this season. To me and every other Hornet fan its not a good thing, its a bad thing.