Because of a very tight schedule this week due to a ton of AAF chapter business, preparations for GHOE activities, and taking care of a great many final details for this weekend’s road trip to Hampton, this will be an abbreviated version of the normal weekly column missing a recap or two from last week’s action in the CAA.
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Monmouth at William & Mary 1:00pm FloFootball/Cox
New Hampshire at Rhode Island 1:00pm FloFootball
UAlbany at Maine 1:00pm FloFootball
North Carolina A&T at Hampton 2:00pm FloFootball
Stony Brook at Villanova 2:00pm FloFootball
Campbell at Richmond 3:30pm FloFootball
Delaware at Towson 4:00pm FloFootball
No need to mince words about last week’s game against Richmond. There was good news and bad news.
The good news was it was by far the best defensive performance of the season by an extremely young unit that has six freshmen in its starting lineup holding an explosive high scoring Richmond offense to just 3-13 on third down conversions, 135 yards rushing and 122 passing yards for a meager 257 yards of total offense and just 10 points.
The bad news was the offense put up 23 points – for the opposition on 3 turnovers ( 2 Pick-six returns and a blocked punt) and that my friends was the entire story of the day. A&T has taken major steps defensively over the last two outings as the youngsters on that side of the ball are growing up and maturing as we enter the final quarter of the season. It is becoming apparent that the players have adjusted to their new defensive scheme and are playing much better than they were in September.
However, the offense which had seemed to show bits of life in its lone win against Norfolk State has continued to sputter and stall throughout the season and last week downright imploded with a bevy of head scratching turnovers and poor execution that totally negated a fine defensive performance.
Heading into Hampton this week, the Aggies will find a Hampton team that was riding a nice streak of wins a month ago but have been decimated by injuries over the last three weeks that have sidelined three of their biggest playmakers including star junior quarterback Chris Zellous formerly of Greensboro Grimsley High School and running backs Elijah Burris and Darran Butts.
With them the Pirates were sitting at 3-1 and 1-0 in the CAA and were looking strong headed into the conference season at the beginning of October. Without them, HU has dropped three straight by a combined score of 138-40. The outcome of this game could very well be impacted by whether those three will be available to play this Saturday.
With them the Aggies will be hard pressed to keep pace on the scoreboard given the sad state of affairs surrounding the offense’s inability to put points on the board. Without them the odds become almost even with two teams that will depend heavily on their respective defenses to provide opportunities for points in what should be a low scoring game.
Any event, coming back off of injuries after being out of action for 2 or 3 weeks isn’t exactly like turning on a light switch and suddenly everything begins to immediately click. Invariably the timing will be off, movements may be tentative, and there is a distinct risk of re-injury in what will be a physical football game.
It will be homecoming at Hampton so the emotions will be high. The big question is can A&T regain its composure after a disappointing effort and really buckle down and focus in on pulling off a road win and its first against a CAA opponent that is also nursing itself through its own tough times. I like our special teams to decide this one.
N.C. A&T – 20
Hampton – 13