|Best motivation for JCSU is embracing ‘sense of urgency’ in CIAA|
|Golden Bulls shuffle staff and roster|
|Published Wednesday, August 14, 2019 9:24 am|
|PHOTO | TROY HULL|
|Johnson C. Smith football coach Kermit Blount, right, is wearing an extra hat in 2019 as offensive coordinator.|
Four wins. Two seasons. No option but to turn Johnson C. Smith football around.
For fifth-year coach Kermit Blount, that means overhauling the Golden Bulls coaching staff in order to become relevant in a wide-open CIAA South. It means taking control as his own offensive coordinator and turning the defense over to new coordinator Jeep Hunter. The future really is right now at JCSU, which is 11-29 over Blount’s first four seasons.
“We had to make some changes, not so much that guys weren’t doing what they were supposed to be doing, but we had to jump-start the guys we’ve got returning and the newcomers coming in,” Blount said.
Blount’s immediate goal is familiarizing quarterbacks Antonio Wallace and De’Andre Robinson with making adjustments when necessary. Wallace earned a spot on the CIAA all-freshman team after completing 114-of-241 passes for 1,344 yards and 10 touchdowns last year. Robinson, who played sparingly as a freshman, completed 8-of-21 attempts for 112 yards and a score.
“It’s a sense of urgency as well as a winning mindset,” Wallace said. “We’re not killing ourselves inside. We’re doing the little things, the leaders are stepping up more; we’re doing everything 110 percent. Last year, I can say we weren’t emphasizing that. This year we have a different state of mind.”
JCSU, which averaged 15.3 points per game in 2018, near the bottom in the CIAA, needs to establish a ground attack to keep defenses honest. Coaches and players alike have raved about redshirt freshman Emanuel Wilson, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a senior at North Mecklenburg High. The Golden Bulls averaged 1.9 yards per carry in 2018.
“We want to create a run game on offense,” Blount said. “I’ve been talking about it for four years, so we want to put an emphasis on [the] run and be a little bit more teach-worthy as opposed to coach-worthy.”
To get there, Blount is also looking to improve an offensive line hampered by youth and lack of depth in 2018. Tackle Alvin Brown, a former starter who missed the last two seasons, returns to the roster, which helps immediately.
“We’ve still got a couple of young guys who are going to step in and play for us this year,” Blount said, “but our returning guys and what we were able to add in terms of depth, I think we’ll be OK.”
Hunter, who joined the staff before spring drills, has a challenge to improve one of the nation’s worst defenses, which allowed an average of 36.3 points and 380.2 yards per game last season. The Golden Bulls were especially vulnerable against the run, where opponents averaged 4.6 yards per attempt.
“This defense is young, but has the potential to be great,” senior cornerback Jahvez Mitchell said. “We’re breaking down the X’s and O’s of the game so we can all be effective and play at a very high level. “As for [Hunter], I like him. He’s hard on us, but that’s what we need to make the transition to the next level, to be one of the best defenses in the conference. I’m excited.”
CIAA coaches don’t think highly of JCSU’s chances to escape the CIAA South cellar, voting the Golden Bulls sixth in the division. Mitchell believes otherwise.
“That’s somebody’s opinion, but of course it’s motivation,” he said. “Nobody wants to finish last, but I relay the message that we can’t let [any] outside interference deter our mindset and the capability we have on game day. As a team, we’re just going to worry about what we’ve got going on over here and let everybody else do the talking. We’ll let our play speak for itself.”
Send this page to a friend