A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
BASN HBCU Football Previews: Scouting The MEAC
NORTH CAROLINA –Hampton University is the top choice by coaches and media to win the 2006 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference football title, as voted by the leagues Head Football Coaches and media.
The Pirates tallied six first-place votes in the coaches’ poll and 10 first-place votes in the media poll. The Primary reason for the 1st place pre-season pick is due to 18 returning starters including last year’s offensive and defensive MEAC players of the year running back Alonzo Coleman and linebacker Justin Durant.
The Pirates are trying to win their 3rd straight league championship and make their 4th straight appearance in post season play. The Pirates finished undefeated in league play last year and finished 11-1 overall last season.
The Pirates were also picked in the top 20 preseason I-AA Poll at No. 13.
South Carolina State: The Bulldogs was second behind the Pirates in both polls. They earned six first-place votes in the media poll and three first-place votes in the coaches’ poll. The Bulldogs finished 7-1 in the MEAC play in 2005. If the Bulldogs want to upset the preseason polls and win the MEAC championship, they will have to rely on the balanced they displayed on offense, defense and special teams. The Bulldogs finished in the top 3 in just about every major category in the MEAC in 2005.
SCSU finished 2nd in scoring offense at 34.4 points per game, 2nd in scoring defense at 15 points per game, 1st in kick off returns, 3rd in punt returns and number 1 in turnover margin. They will have to get a solid efforts on offense out of senior Deshawn Baker(3rd in the MEAC in rushing) and Cleveland McCoy(2nd in passing) and steady play on defense from Junior linebacker Tony White, Junior Travis Kinloch and sophomore Marshall McFadden.
Delaware State and Florida A & M: Delaware State and Florida A&M tied for third place in the coaches poll and were fourth and fifth respectively in the media poll. The Hornets were 6-2 in MEAC play and 7-4 overall last season. The Rattlers were also 6-2 in MEAC play and 7-4 overall. The Hornets were led by their defense which rank in the top of the league in scoring defense, passing defense, turnover margin, rushing defense and overall total defense.
The Hornets also led the MEAC in sacks with 37 but it will be a challenge to duplicate that position after losing their 2 sack leaders linebackers Sam Smith and Kenny Kern to graduation.
The Rattlers will try to improve on their 6-2 record the very talented defensive back O’Bryan Brandy. Brandy led the Rattlers with 5 sacks, 10 tackles for a loss, 85 total tackles and many pass defended in 2005. Look for Florida A& M to rely on Junior defensive end Tyrone McGriff and Junior linebacker Vernon Wilder to be leaders on the defensive side of the ball while senior wide-receiver Roosevelt Kiser(led the league in receptions) will have to be a leader in an offense that will be missing sensational running back Rashard Pompey who finished second in the MEAC in rushing in last season.
Ironically, the two schools will meet each this Saturday at the Ford Football Classic in Detroit. It will be the season opener for each team.
Bethune Cookman: Bethune-Cookman were chosen to finish third in the media poll and rounded out the top five in the coaches’ poll. The Wildcats should be competitive mostly because of their defense. The Wildcats return seven starters returning from last year’s very talented defense.
Norfolk State, Howard, Morgan State and North Carolina A&T round out the conference in that order and are the only teams that finished in the same order in both the MEAC Coaches poll and MEAC Media poll. These 4 schools have an enormous amount of work to do if they are going to be a surprise in the conference.