Benedict Ready To Bounce Back

COLUMBIA, S.C. (BC SID) — After losing the season opener 49-6, the Benedict College Tigers had a lot of work to do in a short amount of time. Head Coach Mike White is confident the Tigers will be better when they take on the Elizabeth City State Vikings on Saturday at 6 p.m. in Charlie W. Johnson Stadium.

“It’s going to take time. I wish I could say we’re going to make a huge improvement this week,” White said. “I think we’ll take a step forward, but how big a step we’ll see.”

The Tigers (0-1) take on an Elizabeth City State (0-0) team that is coming off a 71-0 victory over Virginia-Lynchburg last week, although the NCAA does not recognize the win or any statistics from that game. Virginia-Lynchburg is one of 30 schools whose accreditation does not meet NCAA guidelines, and statistics in games against those non-countable teams in all sports, including football, will not be recognized by the NCAA.

Gameday Central
Game time: 6 p.m.
Radio: WLXC Kiss 103.1
Audio stream: Stretch Internet
Live Stats: Sidearm Live Stats

While the statistics may not count, the Vikings were impressive in their debut, even if was against inferior competition. Coach White knows the Tiger defense has to be prepared and play better than last week.

“I’m hoping for a better effort and I think we’ll see it,” White said.

Looking back, White said the Tigers, with a roster dominated by freshmen and sophomores, are thinking about what to do and what they’ve been coached to do, instead of knowing what to do and letting instincts take over. Livingstone continually took advantage of that split second of indecision.

“It looks like last week we were trying to do exactly what the coaches were asking you to do, while the other team was just playing football,” White said. “They were playing at another speed than we were.”

That’s how he wants to see the Tigers play this week against the Vikings.

“We’ve just got to play faster. We need to get our guys on the field, and not so much thinking, but allow them to just play,” White said.

The Vikings will try to dominate the game with a strong running game. They rushed for 338 yards last week, including a 110-yard effort from Josh Joyner on just 13 carries.

White is still trying to establish a strong defensive unit at Benedict like he did at Albany State. He sees this contest as a test for supremacy on the line of scrimmage.

“This will be a good contest for us, because we want to have that type of reputation defensively that stops these teams that want to run the ball,” White said. “At Benedict, we want to be a team that is tough on you on first down and force you into a passing situation. We’re looking for this type of test and they’re going to give it to us. They’ve got a good line and good all-around talent. Any time you play an opponent that just put 70 points up the week before, you know you’ve got your hands full.”

And White is hoping the Tigers can establish that superiority on the offensive line as well. Benedict managed just 43 net yards on 29 carries last week.

“Your big boys have got to outduel them on the line of scrimmage,” White said. “I thought as a staff we got off running the ball a little too quick last week. We should have stayed with it. We tried to get out and match them when they were putting up points on us. Right after that fake punt we kind of wanted to step it up a little on offense. I thought we asked Kalu to do a few things more than he needed to. I think we’ll hold tight this week and do a better job.”

White is also hoping to see an improvement out of freshman quarterback Kalu Onumah, who completed 10-of-22 passes for 174 yards, one touchdown and one interception in his collegiate debut.

“He has his moments,” White said. “Again, he’s just like this football team, a carbon copy. He’s just a young guy trying to do what the coaches are asking him to do and the game is going a little faster than he’s accustomed to. That’s kind of where our team is right now.”

Elizabeth City State also comes into the game looking to even the score from last season’s last-second loss to the Tigers. Benedict won 20-19 on a touchdown pass as time expired, then Tory Mimbs kicked the extra point for the win.

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