Takeaways from FCS Week 2
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By CRAIG HALEY
(STATS) - Many FCS coaches must have madder than Serena Williams on Saturday.
The second full week of the young season felt particularly disjointed coming off the momentum of a grand opening week. There was plenty of bad weather and even more sloppy play (especially the FCS versus the FBS).
Oh, there was a nice share of highlights as well, but that ol' coaching adage of teams making their most improvement from the first week of the season to the second week, yeah, it didn't happen for enough teams.
Here are takeaways from Week 2 of the FCS season:
- There were plenty of big quarterback matchups across the nation. The biggest saw Gage Gubrud (402 total yards, four touchdown passes) lead No. 6 Eastern Washington past No. 18 Northern Arizona 31-26. Lumberjacks signal caller Case Cookus, a redshirt junior because he missed much of the 2016 season, was knocked from the game with an injury late in the fourth quarter. South Dakota's Austin Simmons accounted for 542 yards and five TDs in a 43-28 win over Northern Colorado and Jacob Knipp. Also winning were Zach Bednarczyk (Villanova) over Brad Mayes (Lehigh) and Joe Carbone (Stony Brook) over Price Wilson (Bryant). The night was capped by San Diego and Anthony Lawrence taking on UC Davis and Jake Maier.
- South Dakota's win combined with South Dakota State's 45-14 triumph over Montana State gave the Missouri Valley a 3-2 lead in the Big Sky/MVFC Challenge Series, with three games remaining. Third-ranked SDSU was particularly impressive after its opening game at Iowa State was canceled by inclement weather last week. Quarterback Taryn Christion and new No. 1 wide receiver Cade Johnson combined for four touchdown passes. For one night, it eased concerns over the loss of tight end Dallas Goedert and wide receiver Jake Wieneke.
- Fourth-ranked Sam Houston State also got its season underway, but struggled to put away SWAC member Prairie View A&M 41-32 (much like last year's 44-31 score). New quarterback Mike Dare's line - 20 of 40 for 169 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions - summed up the average performance as the Bearkats extended their home winning streak to an FCS-leading 21 games.
- It feels like it is getting late early for some key FCS teams, although there's still the chance to rally during conference play. New Hampshire, ranked No. 7 in the preseason, is a shaky 0-2 given No. 1 quarterback Trevor Knight's shoulder injury, and the Wildcats are working on a run of 14 straight FCS playoff appearances. Furman and Youngstown State also are 0-2 after being ranked in the preseason.
- The week of FCS-vs.-FBS results was among the ugliest ever. Maine was a saving grace with a 31-28 win at Western Kentucky. But that was the only win in 29 matchups, and the FBS teams won by an average of over 39 points. Yes, that's not a misprint.
- Kudos to No. 9 Samford despite its FBS loss as the Southern Conference favorite led Florida State for most of the game before falling 36-26. Quarterback Devlin Hodges lit up the Seminoles for 475 yards and two touchdowns through the air, but he also threw four interceptions, the most critical ending with Levonta Taylor's 63-yard return for a touchdown with 2:23 left. The Bulldogs jump into conference play the next two weeks, but their final nonconference game on Sept. 29 matches their passing game against Kennesaw State's fabulous rushing attack.
- In a bid of an oddity, No. 2 James Madison earned a 17-0 victory over Norfolk State even though they played only one quarter. The two sides sat through several lengthy weather delays and more lightning was in the forecast, so they ended the game and decided to give the Dukes the win. Last year's FCS runner-up will remain No. 2 in Monday's rankings behind defending FCS champion North Dakota State, which was idle.
Updated September 9, 2018