Hornet notebook: DSU defense aims to rebound vs. S.C. State

DOVER — Just when it looked like the Delaware State University football team took a step forward defensively, it ran into the Howard University buzzsaw.

The Hornets were coming off of their best defensive performance of the season, then let up 55 points to Howard last Saturday. It’s a mark they’d like to improve on as they head into this week’s matchup at South Carolina State (1:30 p.m.).

Delaware State is still looking for its first victory of the season. The Hornets sit at 0-6 overall and 0-3 in MidEastern Athletic Conference play.

DelState has dropped 26 consecutive road contests.

The Hornets looked to have turned a corner defensively when they only allowed 34 points two weeks ago to then-No. 11-ranked North Carolina A&T. But Howard’s quarterback, Caylin Newton — the younger brother of Cam Newton — tossed five touchdowns, threw for 313 yards and ran for 58 more.

“We’re young, we’re immature and we have a lot of work to do here,” said DSU coach Rod Milstead. “Howard came out and played a really good football game and capitalized on our mistakes. … A lot of the teams we’re playing have been together for three or four years. We’ve been together since August.”

Delaware State’s defensive numbers are near the bottom in all of Division I football.

The Hornets have allowed an average of 50.7 points per game this season. That mark is the third most points given up of any FCS team.
Only Tennessee Tech (54.3 points per game) and VMI (54.2 points per game) have a higher average than Delaware State.

South Carolina State could be a cure for the struggling defense, though.

It is only averaging 261.8 yards per game offensively, which is 117th of 124 FBS teams. So this is as good of a chance as any for the Hornets to pick up that first victory.

“We have to come out and play mistake-free football,” Milstead said. “This is a good game for us to mature as a team and to finally put three phases together.”

Pound the rock

The rushing offense has been one of the lone bright spots for Delaware State this year.

And Milstead thinks it can be even better.

The Hornets are second in the MEAC with 166.2 rushing yards a game, trailing only Howard. Milstead said he thinks the Hornets are capable of rushing for 300 yards as a team in some games.

“We really think we can get more yards,” Milstead said. “I’d like to get to 300 a game. We’ve got a long ways to go and being an offensive line guy, I’d like to run the ball, then get you when there’s eight or nine guys in the box.”

Coming into the season, Mike Waters and Brycen Alleyne were expected to carry a bulk of the load for the rushing attack. While the two have done a lot of the work, more and more running backs have been getting involved.

Waters leads the team with 67.6 yards per game. Alleyne has rushed for 46.8 a contest and scored one touchdown.

Last week saw the debut of freshman Michael Chris-Ike. He led all players with 86 yards on 10 carries and scored DSU’s lone touchdown of the 55-13 defeat.

Bryant Dallas and Richard Harris have also moved into the running back rotation.

“That’s one of the bright spots,” Milstead said. “People look at the record and see 0-6 and say, ‘Well, they’re 0-6, they’re not very good.’ We do have good quality players here and we have good quality coaches. Our problem has been maturity. We have players who are very young and who have never played Division I football before.”

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