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.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Balanced Offense Helped Hornets Get Their 1st Win

Back on Saturday night during the Hornets 24-22 victory over Savannah State, Delaware State offense was not one dimensional unlike the previous three games. Instead in their MEAC opener, they gained 134 yards rushing and 198 yards throwing.

The best highlights of the game was a 61 yard touchdown run by Dae Hon Cheung back in the 2nd quarter. That's something the Hornets running game needs to continue throughout the rest of the season.

In the 3rd quarter Quarterback Cory Murphy found Malik Goldson for a 53 yard scored and in the 4th quarter Murphy found Aries Scott for an insurance touchdown before Savannah State made a furious rally that was two points short.

If the Hornets can continue their balanced offensive attack for the rest of the season then the Hornets might have a winning record. Their best test is yet to come as the Hornets take on the defending MEAC champion Bethun-Cookman in Dover this Saturday.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Hornets Has Faced a #1 Team Before

Later on today at 3:30 pm on ESPN3.com, the Delaware State Hornets football team will take on the #1 team in Division I-AA, North Dakota State, the defending two time FCS (Football Championship Sub-division) National Champions.

This is not the first time that the Hornets has faced a team ranked #1 in the nation.

Lets go back nine years ago, September 25, 2004 during Al Lavan's first year as the Hornets football coach. It was a nice day for football at Alumni Stadium in Dover as Delaware State was hosting the #1 team in the nation Southern Illinois. It was a exposure for Delaware State to faced a #1 ranked team in the country.

However, when the game started, the Hornets were completely outmatched from start to finish in 49-0 defeat. This game was so bad that I almost fell asleep on the bleachers during the 4th quarter in that hot sun. Besides the Hornets were 0-3 entering that game.

Today the Hornets are entering today's game vs #1 North Dakota State winless at 0-2 to start the season. At least the Hornets don't have to play outdoors they will be playing indoors but the Bison crowd will be very loud all game long. For coach Kermitt Blount and his team, it will be a barn burner like no other just like their 42 point lost at the lands of #4 Towson last week in Maryland.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Special Teams Fail to Make the Grade

After the first two games of the 2013 football season, the Delaware State Hornets special teams can't seem to find answers on their production performance.

On September 7 versus University of Delaware, the Hornets gave up a 65 yard punt return for a touchdown not to mention giving the Blue Hens good field position several times that led to touchdown scoring drives.

Then back on Saturday vs #4 Towson, the Hornet's special teams gave up a 95 kick off return return for a touchdown to start the 3rd quarter. What poor coverage by Delaware State.

Also the kicking game didn't help the Hornets scoring at all. So far place kicker Mitchell Ward is 0 for 2 so far in field goals this season. During the UD game, Ward missed a 30 yard field goal chip shot and his 39 field goal in the 3rd quarter got blocked thanks to a low snap. You know the old saying, never trust kickers in college football.

I can tell special teams coach Curtis Thomas must be fuming inside and he should be due to the fact that the Hornets needs to do a better job at covering very fast punt/kick returners this season. If they don't, they will be in a whole lot of trouble this season.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hornets Defense Exposed

During the Hornets 42-21 lost to University of Delaware back on September 7, the hornets defense gave up some huge gaps on the gridiron that allowed the Blue Hens to piled up over 400 yards of offense.

In the 1st quarter of UD's second drive, Blue Hen quarter back Trent Hurley found wide receiver Michael Johnson for a long 55 yard touchdown pass. Hornets linebacker Devon Morre blew his assignment to cover Johnson not to mention the secondary to help him out. Then in the same quarter,the Hornets defense gave up 72 yards on UD's 12 plays that resulted in a 14-0 lead heading into the 2nd quarter.

During the 2nd quarter the Hornets gave up a 33 yard touchdown pass when Hurley found Rob Jones again in the endzone to make the score more difficult to catch up at 21-7. Right before halftime, the Hornets gave up a 83 yard drive that result in another touchdown to make it 35-7.

In the 2nd half the Hornets defense calm only to give up 7 points for the entire half.

Other stuff I notice from the Hornets defense is their inability to cover receivers that made hug chunk of yards for 1st downs. Also I did not see not one blitzing scheme from their defensive backs all game in order to pressure the quarter. No wonder DSU had no sacks in the game. They have go clean that up quickly. I figured out why because DSU is worried about the running game that UD will produce than the passing game.

Also during the game, UD was playing the hurry up offense. Kind like the Oregon Ducks or the 2 minute drill to throw off the defense.

If the Hornets defense thinks the Blue Hens was tough wait till Saturday night when DSU plays #5 Towson and the two time defending FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) National Champion North Dakota State next Saturday.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Hornets Football Camp Wrap-Up

Ever since football camp started back on August 7th, the Delaware State Hornets football team was gearing up for the upcoming 2013 season. There were some ups and downs during the three week training camp.

First, the Hornets were picked to finished 8th in MEAC Conference while other sports magazines picked DSU to finished 6th in conference. Coach Kermit Blount wasn't surprised about it due to the fact that Delaware State had a very tough schedule coming in front of them with four straight road games to start the season (Delaware, Towson, North Dakota State, and Savannah State). Trust me that is no easy task because after those road games in September, they will played their home opener vs defending MEAC Champion Bethune-Cookman on October 5th. Yikes!!! Talk about a barn burner.

During the two full contact scrimmages, the Hornets defense were tougher, stronger, and probality faster than last year. They were forcing turnovers left and right and halting almost everydrive the offense can mustard at them. Think about it almost most of the starters returned last year with one goal in mind for the upcoming season: to become the best defensive team in the MEAC Conference. Only time will tell on that predicament.

The biggest problem of all of training camp during those three weeks is the offense. So far through August 26, coach Blount has still not named a starting quarterback. All throughout camp, four quarterbacks have combined for only one touchdown. The bright lone spot was Milton Williams who is  working hard to become the Hornets number one wide receiver. The question is who is Hornets number two wide reciever? That answer is up for grabs and so is quarterback position. This will be coach Blount toughest decision he will ever make and this is only his third year Delaware State.

Also the Hornets offensive line is very thin with only one starter and the rest of the offensive line who only played reserved last season, will get more time at starting line. How are they going to protect their quarter from getting pressured and not to mention create a gap for the running backs to run routes? So far they kept getting run down from left to right in almost every aspect.

Speaking of running backs, Malcolm Williams, Dae Hon Chueng, and Najee Jackson have been quiet during this summer's camp but those three should be top shape form come September 7.

Now that summer training camp has come to a close, are the Hornets football ready for the real deal and win football games. To me I doubt because they still some issues to addressed and fixed between now and before September 7th or DSU will be in for very very long season.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Home Football Times Changed Again

If you did or didn't see the 2013 Delaware State Hornets football schedule several weeks ago on dsuhornets.com, then look very closely.

We all know that the Hornets first home game of the season is not until October 5th vs Bethune-Cookman but I noticed the times of the football home games have changed.

From 2008-2012 DSU home football games were changed from 12pm to 1pm. Back then during the 1970s, 80s, 90s and 2000s Hornet home football games usually kicked off at 12pm. I wonder why the sudden changes?

Maybe because of time conflicts, or something else I don't know. One thing I do know is that its all about time management and balance.

Will these times stay the way it is for next year and for the foreseeable future is yet to be seen but I hope Hornet fans will get to the game early and get their seats. That way we will not have low attendance numbers like we had the last several years.

Monday, July 29, 2013

No Surprise Here

Back on Friday during MEAC Media Luncheon Conference, the Delaware State Hornets football team is predicted to finished 8th in the MEAC Conference.

Now don't get me wrong, last year the Hornets were picked to finished 10th in the standings instead they finished tied for third at 5-3. Will this happen again this season?

To me I doubt it for two good reasons: offense and a tough schedule.

On offense, quarterback Nick Elko, and wide receivers Justin Wilson and Travis Tarplay have graduated and moved on to future endeavors in life. Now with two new quarterbacks, new wide receivers and returning running backs in Dae Hon Chenug, Malcolm Williams, and Nagee Jackson I said this Hornets offense is in for a real struggle. I have no concern about the Hornets defense yet that will be in a future blog later.

The Hornets schedule looks pretty tough just like 2009-2012. All September the Hornets will play four road games straight  starting with University of Delaware, Towson, North Dakota State and Savannah State. Their first home game is not until October 5 vs defending MEAC Champion Bethune-Cookman not to mention the Homecoming game vs Norfolk State October 12. The Hornets are going to be in a tough six game stretch that will determine their season.

Then again who knows anything can happen this season but that's up to coach Kermit Blount and his coaching staff to make all the right plays this season. That will put to the test start with training camp next Wednesday in Dover.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Hornets MEAC Tournament Preview

Well today is the day, its time for the Delaware State Men's and Women's basketball team to showcase their skills during the 2013 Mid Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) tournament here in the Norfolk Scope Arena in Norfolk, Virginia. This morning at 11am the the ninth seed DSU lady hornets will play in the 1st round for the fourth straight year as they take on the number eight seed Bethune-Cookman.

In their 1st and only meeting of the season at Daytona Beach, Florida, the lady hornets blew a nine point lead but prevail in overtime 62-57 in overtime back on January 26 thanks to Jade Washington's game winning lay up with 34 seconds left and Taisha Bristow's four clutch free throws.

The lady hornets finished ninth in the MEAC at 6-10 in Tamika Louis' first year as Delaware State. She knows that her team will have their hands full especially after growing pains the Lady Hornets went through this season. Now the Lady Hornets will have dig deep in order to get to the quarter-finals to face Hampton with their best offense they can.

Think about it the lady hornets are ninth in the MEAC in scoring but their turnovers is hard to watch everytime they play  by averaging almost 21 turnovers a game.  Also their defense has been pretty rough this season finishing third to last in the MEAC in scoring defense. Ever heard of hands up defense? Tierra hawkins and Bristow is going to need a third and fourth scorer in order to help DSU and that has to be Deanna Harmon and Keyanna Tate.

As for the DSU men's basketball team, they play a night cap as the sixth seed when they play the 11th seed Howard University.

Howard is still having nightmares after getting swept in the season series but the biggest nightmare came back on January 23 when Tahj Tate made two highlighted poster dunks that had Hornet fans going crazy. Howard will never forget and never forgive what happen on that very day. Expect the Bison to give the Hornets a fight like no other and I'm pretty sure Alphonso Leary has a defensive mind set on Tate after being on the wrong end of a poster dunk.

The Hornet men better take Howard lightly, (remember UMES and South Carolina?) or else they will be in for early elimination.

I'm pretty sure coach Greg Jackson Sr. has some new ideas on how the Hornets run this offense because trust me the slow down game will not work with Howard or any other team in the tournament if they advance that far. Also the Hornets biggest weakness is their three point shooting especially when they shoot 27% as a team during the regular season. The hornets has got to attack the paint more due to the fact that other MEAC opponents are turning DSU into a jump shooting team with no balanced scoring due to their opponents height. So what that means is this, Tate has to step up (sixth man or not), Casey Walker has to step up, Maques Oliver has to step up, Kendall Gray has to step up, Miles Bowman, has to step and the point guard of A.J. Thomas, Jabari Joyner, Khali Thomas, and Amere May has to play point guard not shooting guard in order for Delaware State to move to the quarterfinals. The winner of this game will play the third seed Hampton on Thursday night.

Good luck Delaware State, even though I won't be there in Norfolk to support in person, rest assured I will wear my Columbia blue and red today in Newark, Delaware to watch the game online on meachoops.com.