|Surprised? Not JCSU|
|Golden Bulls confident with 3-0 start|
|Published Sunday, September 22, 2013 3:17 pm|
Johnson C. Smith is still carrying a chip on its collective shoulder despite its best start since 1982.
|Johnson C. Smith receiver Avius Capers (Independence High) pulls in a pass for a 35-yard touchdown in the Golden Bulls' 35-22 win against Davidson on Saturday as Wildcats defender Justin Hill gives chase. JCSU is 3-0 for the first time since 1982 and is on a seven-game win streak dating to the final four games of 2012.|
The Golden Bulls, who improved to 3-0 with a 35-22 win over Davidson last week and have won seven straight dating back to 2012, are OK with an us-versus-the-world mindset. After being picked to finish fourth in the CIAA South in preseason polling by league coaches they figure not everyone’s convinced.
“We’re still fighting for respect,” said linebacker Anthony Allen, who had 17 tackles against Davidson. “It’s not all good right now, but it’s getting there. People are starting to come out and support us more; things are starting to pick up for us as a program.”
While JCSU’s success is the surprise of the CIAA, Golden Bulls coach Steve Aycock isn’t shocked. With a senior-laden team and an offense that averages 40 points a game, the Bulls are maturing at the right time.
“I knew in July we had a great group of young men, so the way we’ve be practicing I’m really not surprised at all,” he said. “This is something we expect.”
Winning consistently is a fairly new phenomenon at JCSU, but Aycock has the Golden Bulls headed in the right direction. The program won six games in each of the last two seasons and Aycock opened the season with a challenge to improve on those outcomes. “We went through the previous two seasons where we started a winning tradition and this is like we’re putting it together …with coaches and recruitment and the work ethic. Coach Aycock has changed this program around tremendously.”
That emphasis on growth has been most pronounced in quarterback Keahn Wallace, who has thrown for 793 yards and seven touchdowns despite missing the season opener. Wallace embraces what he considers a league-wide dismissal of the program in the preseason as motivation, and it’s carried over to his teammates.
“That’s the chip on their shoulders,” Aycock said. They expect to win. Keahn is one of those guys who will be humble for a minute, make big plays, do one wrong, make two right and the other offensive guys truly rally around him.”
Said Allen: The defense, paced by an aggressive front seven, has contributed as well. The Golden Bulls have racked up 27 sacks to match last season’s total, including a school-record 13 against Davidson.
“Since camp, we’ve been telling (the defense) we need them,” Wallace said. “The defensive line is the strength of the team, so they (come) up big. When you see it all week, it’s like another game.”
An unbeaten record brings lofty expectations. Aycock is mindful the Golden Bulls shouldn’t look past the next two opponents – Virginia State and Lincoln (Pa.) – to the Oct. 5 game at Winston-Salem State that could determine first place in the CIAA South.
“The one thing we reiterate every day during the week, especially on game day is this is a big game because this is the next game because of who we’re playing,” Aycock said. “Virginia State, they’re going to bring a good team that we’ve got to go up there and play. Of course, it’s hard with young student athletes trying to keep them on track one day at a time one play at a time, one win at a time. We just try to chip off a little bit at a time.”
Wallace agrees, adding that setting new records isn’t as important as team success.
“I don’t pay attention to that historically,” he said. “It’s a plus, but we’ve got to keep going one game at a time. We’re not trying to jump too far ahead or live in the past. We’re just playing one game at a time.”
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