NCCU tries to forget SCSU rout as Morgan State pays a visit
S.C. State undeniably embarrassed N.C. Central in its 44-3 win on national TV Thursday.
On Tuesday, NCCU interim coach Dwayne Foster put a lot of emphasis on that — 'last' Thursday.
“The mood of the team is good,” Foster said Tuesday. “The South Carolina State game is behind us. It’s over with. It is done.”
A 1-5 Morgan State squad is coming to O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium looking to crash NCCU’s homecoming party Saturday (2 p.m., NCCUEaglePride.com).
It’ll be a rested bunch of Bears showing up in the Bull City after using a bye week to recover from wars with Army and Liberty, battles that Morgan State lost.
Morgan State dropped four straight non-conference games and then got lost in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference action to Norfolk State before getting a league win against Florida A&M.
That has the Bears and 3-3 NCCU nestled in the middle of the MEAC, both with 1-1 league records.
The season started out rough for Morgan State, but the Bears have been executing better against MEAC teams, Foster said.
Morgan State quarterback Seth Higgins (6-4, 230) is big and mobile and third in the MEAC in rushing, averaging 82 yards a game with three rushing touchdowns.
“Higgins, he’ll dip his shoulder and make something happen for extra yardage,” Foster said.
That’s not particularly good news for an NCCU defense that is dead last in the conference, giving up 471.5 total yards per contest over two games in the MEAC.
Against the pass, NCCU is the league’s worst, too. MEAC teams on average are throwing for 286 yards per game against NCCU. For the season, the Eagles are surrendering an average of 271 yards through the air.
Higgins hasn’t exactly been lighting it up through the air, but Foster figures the Bears are licking their chops after dissecting DVDs delineating NCCU’s defensive deficiencies.
“You’d better believe teams are going to try to attack in that way,” Foster said.
Morgan State coach Donald Hill-Eley said his squad will push the door of the NCCU secondary and see if it opens.
“Just like anything else, you’ll see if they fixed it, and if they fixed it, then you go to something else,” Hill-Eley said.
NCCU this season has demonstrated a penchant for making big plays, mainly on special teams, yet Eagles with sticky fingers in the secondary have pulled down nine interceptions that included 204 return yards.
What’s hurting the Eagles is the real estate teams are acquiring in between those big plays.
“We have to eliminate the yardage that we’ve been giving up defensively,” Foster said. “We want to make some plays, no doubt about that. You have to. In the course of a game, you want to. You have to do that to help the team provide a spark and get yourself in a position to be successful.”
NCCU is last in the league in sacks with seven so far this season. The Eagles got one of those takedowns against Howard.
The Eagles’ defensive line must put some heat on Higgins, and the guys in the secondary have to play sound football, Foster said.
“We have to get better at it, and we’ve got to get our guys to grow up even more from week to week and just improve from week to week,” Foster said.