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Film Forecast: Bethune Cookman at Miami, 9/3

BCU looks for an upset special against The U to kick off the Mario Cristobal Era in ‘22.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JUL 21 SWAC Football Media Day Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Bethune Cookman will head just a little south from Daytona Beach, FL to Miami Gardens, FL to face the Miami Hurricanes on September 3rd, at 3:30pm on the ACC Network. This will be Mario Cristobal’s first game as the Hurricanes head coach, and the season opener at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL.

The Wildcats were predicted to finish 5th in the SWAC at the SWAC Media Day this summer. Miami is expected to be a top 15 team per the SP+ preseason rankings. BCU also has the hardest strength of schedule of the HBCU’s per HBCU sports dot com.

The Canyonero Keys to Victory against an outmatched Bethune Cookman squad are:

1- Come out unscathed. These FCS games are almost like spring games, get tuned up and come out unscathed. Avoid the major injuries, don’t overplay the starters once the lead is set.

2- Shake off the rust. A live game hasn’t taken place for Miami since November 27th. This is also the first go for Coach Cristobal and his staff in Coral Gables. All of the sloppy penalties and confusion needs to be worked out against BCU before facing an improving Southern Miss squad at noon the following Saturday.

3- Get experience for young players. Transfers are transfers, most are just in town for a year to improve their NFL Draft stock before heading to the pros. The young freshmen have to be given burn against FCS and Group of 5 teams early on, including QB Jake Garcia. You want players prepared in case of injuries or other issues, like COVID.

“I remember that guy!”

76 year old NFL Hall of Fame offensive guard Larry Little is the Bethune Cookman player to remember. Little, a Miami, FL native, was an undrafted lineman out of Bethune Cookman in 1967. Little played for the Chargers from 1967-1968, before joining the Miami Dolphins for the 1970 season.

Little was a starting guard for the Dolphins for two Super Bowl Championships, including the ‘72 undefeated season. Little was a five-time All Pro and Pro Bowl selection in the NFL.

After retiring, Little was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993, but also served as a coach at his alma mater, Bethune Cookman, from 1983-1991. Little then moved on to North Carolina Central in Durham, NC from 1993-1998. While coaching the Wildcats, Little finished 45-48-1, while posting a 33-32 record at NCCU.

Little was the MEAC Coach of the Year in 1984, and coached the Ohio Glory of the World League for one season in 1992.

The Doppler

Wildcats Personnel

Three BCU Wildcats earned Southwestern Athletic Conference Preseason Football team nods from the SWAC media day.

On the first team, tight end Kemari Averett was the lone BCU player to make the offensive squad. In ‘21, Averett logged over 800 yards and 11 TD’s receiving.

On the first team defense, DB Omari Hill-Robinson made the cut. Last season, Hill-Robinson picked up 101 tackles including 5.5 TFL’s and two PBU’s.

Kick Returner Darnel Deas made the second team specialists. A year ago, Deas averaged 28 yards per kick return and has logged multiple TD’s on returns over his career.

Wildcats Data

BCU ‘21 PPG scored: 24.5

BCU ‘21 PPG allowed: 36.2

BCU 2021 Record: 2-9

BCU Head Coach: Terry Sims, 36-30 at BCU (2015-present)

BCU Scheme on O

Above- BCU with a winged look off 11 personnel (one back, one tight end). The Wildcats hit the corner route for a TD off this look to the top of the screen. If I’m a 2-9 FCS HBCU I might look for a scheme advantage...

Above- Corner route slash slot fade over the hitch. Either way the Q drops a dime and the CB has no chance. WR with a nice grab with hands in his face.

Above- BCU is down and out but still scrapping to make plays. I love that for them and their coaching staff, you’ve coached up some resilient athletes.

Above- BCU with the jet ‘toss’ sweep. Wildcats get to the edge vs. UTEP in a close game.

Above- Fin-Seam combo from the WR and TE. Back swings to lure some eyes to the flat. Nice TD for BCU.

Above- Power from a nested skinny TE/WR type inserting and the back side guard pulling and wrapping to the ILB.

BCU Scheme on D

Above- BCU, again, running standard scheme. 4-2-5 with 2 high as the base, here 1-high true safety although the CB’s are right around the hard deck line of 7 yards.

Above- Insert Zone with a slant RPO. “Why do teams run RPO’s” so you can take advantage of the box look, dum dums.

Above- Slightly more varied look later in the half, but still a 4-2 with 2-high.

This is one of those games where guys are just going to out-athlete the other team. Things that work against BCU will not work against Texas A&M, or hell, even Southern Miss. There’s just too much of a talent disparity between Miami and a bad FCS team.

Above- Speaking of... I would rather see the back stick it up in there and grind out 2-3 tough yards, which is what he’ll have to do against Pitt and Clemson, than cut outside against lesser talent.

Above- QB’s do not hit their rush routes enough. RB’s are open in the flat on regular passing concepts all the time. For every swing/screen that gets blown up because TE’s and OL take defenders out there, the regular old swing off of a pass concept is always open.


I love a good underdog story but I can’t see BCU upsetting Miami over Labor Day weekend. It’ll be an emotional first few minutes for Mario Cristobal, but once he settles in Miami will roll the Wildcats. Expect a close first quarter followed by a rough ‘middle eight’ (the last four minutes of the first half, first four minutes of the second half) for BCU.

Prediction: Miami by 42.