In the FCS Huddle: Staying even keel

Published 09/03 2014 01:59PM

Updated 09/03 2014 01:59PM

Philadelphia, PA ( - It doesn't matter what the result was in the first week of the season, FCS coaches are hard at work trying to keep their players on an even keel from week to week.

Some teams are riding a high off an opening win - as if they were in midseason form already.

Other teams may be shell shocked from a loss they never saw coming.

And yet all the coaches are linked by how they want their players to react whenever they punch in the clock.

"Everybody keeps saying it's a big win. To us, it's another football game," Bethune-Cookman coach Brian Jenkins said about his team's victory over FBS member FIU for the second straight season.

"We treat every game the same, we look at every opponent the same. So we don't get up higher for one opponent more than we do the other. We respect every team the same and we think every team we play deserves the same attention and detail."

His team on a bye this weekend, Jenkins doesn't want his players to bask in the glory of victory. Instead, he wants his coaches and players to evaluate what they can do better when they return to action against Grambling State on Sept. 13.

Conversely, Delaware coach Dave Brock must be thrilled that his team will get back on the field this weekend. The Blue Hens hadn't been shut out since the 1996 season before opening the new campaign with a 62-0 loss at Pittsburgh.

Brock doesn't want the result - also UD's worst since 1921 - to affect his team's confidence in any way.

"The score is frustrating," Brock said. "And, thankfully, as I told the team (Sunday), we're 0-1. By the score, you might think we're 0-4. But we're not. We have 11 games coming up and Delaware State this weekend in the home opener. We've got to get back on track, we've got to solve our problems offensively and we've got to play good defensive football, which is certainly a goal for this year, and find a way to be 1-0 this week and 1-1 overall.

"I think kids are much more resilient than adults give them credit for," he added. "I think kids want to move on. The way we try to do it here, whether it's a big win, a loss, whatever the result is, we try to do it with schedule and routine."

It's the same for North Dakota State after its win at FBS Iowa State, as well as Central Connecticut State after its upset of Towson, and just as importantly with Jacksonville State after its struggle at Michigan State and Florida A&M on its final-play loss at Jackson State.

Staying even keel - it's the only way, FCS coaches say.


FCS teams opened up with a 2-44 thud against FBS teams last week - after going 8-23 on opening week last season - but they have a chance to redeem themselves with 29 more meetings in Week 2.

Villanova was one of the near-misses last Friday night. A late-game miss of a 25-yard field goal attempt and then a failed two-point conversion in overtime helped prevent the Wildcats from upsetting Syracuse.

Yet that wasn't enough to cause 'Nova coach Andy Talley to beat his chest this week. He felt his team played well and that Syracuse is in rebuilding mode, so the result only cemented his feelings on FCS-FBS matchups.

"I think there's a big disparity between Division I(-A) and I-AA teams across the board. They're bigger, faster and stronger," the 1997 Eddie Robinson Award winner said.

"I can tell you that 22 extra scholarships, especially when you get into the fourth quarter, make a big difference because they just continue to lean on you and lean on you. And you're playing 35 guys, they're playing 50 guys. I think it's a little unrealistic to think that the gap is closing between FCS and FBS."

No. 10 Villanova will try to rebound on Saturday when it hosts No. 11 Fordham.


There's a long way to go, but No. 1 North Dakota State's opening win over Iowa State certainly suggested the Bison are the team to beat again nationally as they chase what would be a fourth straight FCS championship.

With historical FCS dynasties, you think Georgia Southern, Youngstown State, Marshall, the three-year run of Appalachian State, even Montana's program over the long haul.

North Dakota State's defense is as destructive as they come on the FCS level, so the Bison dynasty is right there among the great ones.

Think about this: We're in an age of offensive football and the Bison just keep rolling over opponents, led by their defense.

"When you look in the FCS over the last four years, North Dakota State is what everyone wants to be," said Weber State's first-year coach Jay Hill, whose team hosts a Bison squad on an FCS-record 25-game winning streak.

"Bottom line, they're good, we all know it. They bring a physicality to the games that most teams don't play with."


The Sports Network FCS Top 25 can be found at

The FCS Awards package can be found at


Last Week's Record: 74-9 (.892)

This Season's Record: 74-9 (.892)

X-Predicted Winner

FCS Top 25

The FCS upsets of FBS teams are so few and far between that the FCS interconference matchups are usually better. There are some terrific ones on Saturday led by Fordham-Villanova, Jacksonville State-Chattanooga, Southern Utah-Southeastern Louisiana and Southern Illinois-Eastern Illinois.

Saturday, Sept. 6

No. 7 McNeese State (0-0) at X-Nebraska (1-0), noon. The Cowboys are the last of the ranked teams to open their season and they have beaten an FBS opponent in each of the last two seasons. They are talented, but they also have 17 freshmen and sophomores on their two-deep.

No. 2 Eastern Washington (2-0) at X-Washington (1-0), 3 p.m. The Eagles defense still needs to close the gap between itself and Vernon Adams Jr. and the offense.

X-No. 17 Richmond (1-0) at Virginia (0-1), 3:30 p.m. Quarterbacks Michael Strauss and Michael Rocco return to where it all started before they transferred to Richmond.

No. 22 Towson (0-1) at X-West Virginia (0-1), 3:30 p.m. Unless the Tigers are a surprising champion in CAA Football, last week's loss to Central Connecticut State might be too hard to overcome when at-large playoff bids are handed out.

FCS Game of the Week: No. 11 Fordham (1-0) at X-No. 10 Villanova (0-1), 3:30 p.m. Michael Nebrich versus John Robertson could be the quarterback matchup of the season. 'Nova seeks revenge for last year's loss.

Duquesne (0-1) at X-No. 23 Youngstown State (0-1), 4 p.m. Both teams played well in losses to FBS teams. Considering that, an 0-2 record for the losing team almost seems unfair.

Central Washington (0-0) at X-No. 4 Montana (0-1), 5:30 p.m. The Grizzlies moved up one spot in the Top 25 after losing to Wyoming, 17-12. Hah, do you think Coastal Carolina fans noticed?

No. 5 Coastal Carolina (1-0) at X-North Carolina A&T (1-0), 6 p.m. Oops, Chanticleers fans better pay more attention to this week's upstart opponent.

No. 9 Jacksonville State (0-1) at X-No. 13 Chattanooga (0-1), 6 p.m. It's a meeting of rivals who are both favored in their conferences. The host Mocs hope to make a statement.

X-No. 14 Tennessee State (1-0) at Alabama State (0-1), 6 p.m. After the Tigers allowed only 18 first-half yards, the TSU athletics website described the defense as "impregnable."

X-No. 19 Furman (1-0, 0-0 Southern Conference) at Mercer (1-0, 0-0), 6 p.m. Furman, you get to play juniors and seniors, and, Mercer, you can have freshmen and sophomores. Yeah, it's a tough way for Furman alum Bobby Lamb and his host Bears to embark on their first SoCon schedule.

X-No. 21 William & Mary (0-1) at Hampton (0-1), 6 p.m. Until further notice, the Tribe's quarterback play still has plenty of people in Williamsburg nervous.

Cal Poly (0-1) at X-No. 12 South Dakota State (0-1), 7 p.m. Quarterback Zach Lujan had three quarters of action in replacing the injured Austin Sumner last Saturday, so the Jackrabbits offense should run fine.

X-Southern Illinois (1-0) at No. 16 Eastern Illinois (0-1), 7 p.m. SIU is 8-4 on the road against ranked teams in coach Dale Lennon's tenure at SIU.

No. 25 Northern Arizona (0-1) at X-Abilene Christian (0-1), 7 p.m. NAU may have lost too much on defense to keep up with the relentless Abilene Christian offense.

No. 15 Sam Houston State (1-1) at X-LSU (1-0), 7:30 p.m. The Bearkats have done well in replacing quarterback Brian Bell (Jared Johnson) and running back Timothy Flanders (Keshawn Hill).

X-No. 1 North Dakota State (1-0) at Weber State (0-1), 8 p.m. Repeat after me: Never pick against the Bison.

Southern Utah (0-1) at X-No. 3 Southeastern Louisiana (1-0), 8 p.m. The Thunderbirds have the toughest non-conference schedule in the FCS. Their offense can't match Southeastern's firepower.

Black Hills State (0-0) at X-No. 20 Montana State (0-1), 9 p.m. The jury is still out on the Bobcats, who have lost four straight games dating to last November. This week won't provide an answer.

Non-Ranked FCS-FBS

The Citadel's visit to Florida State marks the sixth straight season in which an FCS team will play the defending BCS national champion. Uh ... BCS?

Saturday, Sept. 6

Western Illinois (1-0) at X-Wisconsin (0-1), noon

Stony Brook (0-1) at X-Connecticut (0-1), noon

South Carolina State (0-1) at X-Clemson (0-1), 12:30 p.m.

Sacramento State (1-0) at X-California (1-0), 3 p.m.

Missouri State (1-0) at X-Oklahoma State (0-1), 3:30 p.m.

VMI (0-1) at X-Bowling Green (0-1), 3:30 p.m.

X-Eastern Kentucky (1-0) at Miami (Ohio) (0-1), 3:30 p.m.

Nicholls (0-1) at X-Arkansas (0-1), 4 p.m.

Wagner (1-0) at X-FIU (0-1), 6 p.m.

Savannah State (0-1) at X-Georgia Southern (0-1), 6 p.m.

Campbell (0-1) at X-Appalachian State (0-1), 6 p.m.

Gardner-Webb (0-1) at X-Wake Forest (0-1), 6:30 p.m.

Florida A&M (0-1) at X-Miami (Fla.) (0-1), 7 p.m.

Murray State (1-0) at X-Louisville (1-0), 7 p.m.

Southeast Missouri State (1-0) at X-Kansas (0-0), 7 p.m.

Rhode Island (0-0) at X-Marshall (1-0), 7 p.m.

Alcorn State (1-0) at X-Southern Mississippi (0-1), 7 p.m.

The Citadel (0-1) at X-Florida State (1-0), 7:30 p.m.

Northwestern State (0-1) at X-Baylor (1-0), 7:30 p.m.

Lamar (1-0) at X-Texas A&M (1-0), 7:30 p.m.

Idaho State (0-1) at X-Utah State (0-1), 8 p.m.

Grambling State (0-1) at X-Houston (0-1), 8 p.m.

Northern Colorado (0-1) at X-UNLV (0-1), 10 p.m.

Non-Ranked Non-Conference

As they head toward their 150th showdown on Nov. 22 at Yankee Stadium, arch- rivals Lafayette and Lehigh get a late start on their seasons. They can't ease into the action because Lafayette heads to another 2013 playoff team, Northeast Conference favorite Sacred Heart, and Lehigh entertains James Madison from CAA Football.

Thursday, Sept. 4

Texas College (0-1) at X-Texas Southern (1-0), 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 6

Howard (0-1) at X-Rutgers (1-0), noon

Johnson C. Smith (0-0) at X-Charlotte (1-0), noon

X-James Madison (0-1) at Lehigh (0-0), 12:30 p.m.

Clarion (0-0) at X-Saint Francis (Pa.) (0-1), 1 p.m.

Merrimack (0-0) at X-Bryant (1-0), 1 p.m.

Georgetown (0-1) at X-Dayton (0-0), 1 p.m.

X-Morgan State (0-1) at Holy Cross (0-1), 1 p.m.

Alabama A&M (0-1) at X-Tuskegee (0-0), 2 p.m.

William Penn (1-0) at X-South Dakota (0-1), 3 p.m.

X-Tennessee Tech (1-0) at Indiana State (0-1), 3 p.m.

Brevard (0-0) at X-Western Carolina (0-1), 3:30 p.m.

X-Liberty (0-1) at Norfolk State (0-1), 4 p.m.

Elizabeth City (0-0) at X-North Carolina Central (0-1), 5 p.m.

Delaware State (0-1) at X-Delaware (0-1), 6 p.m.

Albany (1-0) at X-Central Connecticut State (1-0), 6 p.m.

X-Bucknell (1-0) at Marist (0-1), 6 p.m.

X-Pikeville (1-0) at Morehead State (0-1), 6 p.m.

Newberry (0-0) at X-Charleston Southern (1-0), 6 p.m.

Bluefield (0-1) at X-Presbyterian (0-1), 7 p.m.

Florida Tech (0-0) at X-Stetson (1-0), 7 p.m.

Virginia-Lynchburg (0-1) at X-Jackson State (1-0), 7 p.m.

Robert Morris (0-1) at X-North Dakota (0-1), 7 p.m.

Truman State (0-0) at X-Drake (0-1), 7 p.m.

UT Martin (0-1) at X-Central Arkansas (0-1), 7 p.m.

Incarnate Word (0-1) at X-Stephen F. Austin (0-1), 7 p.m.

Lafayette (0-0) at X-Sacred Heart (1-0), 7 p.m.

Central Methodist (0-0) at X-Southern (0-1), 7 p.m.

X-Catawba (0-0) at Davidson (1-0), 7 p.m.

Concordia (Ala.) (0-0) at X-Arkansas-Pine Bluff (0-1), 7 p.m.

X-Butler (0-0) at Wittenberg (0-0), 7 p.m.

Mississippi Valley State (1-0) at X-Illinois State (0-0), 7:30 p.m.

X-St. Joseph's (Ind.) (0-0) at Valparaiso (0-1), 8 p.m.

X-McMurry (0-0) at Houston Baptist (0-0), 8 p.m.

Fort Lewis (0-0) at X-UC Davis (0-1), 9 p.m.

Western New Mexico (0-0) at X-San Diego (0-0), 9 p.m.

Western Oregon (0-0) vs. X-Portland State (0-1) in Hillsboro, Oregon, 10:15 p.m.

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