Digging out of an 0-2 hole becomes harder this week for the N.C. A&T football team with N.C. Central visiting Greensboro on Saturday night.
The Eagles and Aggies will clash with nothing more on the line than pride in a rivalry that began with a 13-13 tie in 1924. The Aggies have moved from the Mid-Eastern Conference, to which Central belongs, to the Big South Conference.
“Central probably has the most improved team that we’ve seen here recently,” Aggies coach Sam Washington said. “We knew Coach (Trei) Oliver would get them turned around.”
The Aggies, after an open date, will try to find their running game. In losses to Furman and Duke, the Aggies averaged just 3.5 yards per carry. In 2019, they averaged 5.9 yards on their way to a 9-3 record.
Star running back Jah-Maine Martin, who rushed for more than 1,500 yards in 2019, hasn’t found many lanes. He has carried 25 times for 53 yards, or 2.1 yards per carry.
“We need to block up front,” Washington said. “This is going to be a trench game.”
The Aggies have worked on their offensive line scheme since playing Duke on Sept. 10.
“We have to be more aggressive up front and get a hat on a hat and move some people,” Washington said.
Washington wants to get Martin into what he called the second level of the Eagles’ defense. Furman and Duke bottled Martin at every turn, limiting his longest run to 14 yards.
“If we get him to the second level, he’ll be able to do some things that are special,” Washington said. “Up front is where it begins and ends for Jah-Maine Martin. We just have to create some gaps and movement, and we’ll be fine.”
The Aggies had not had a two-game losing streak since the end of the 2016 season, losses to Central in the final regular-season game and at Richmond in the first round of the FCS playoffs. The last time the Aggies were 0-2 was in 2010, when they went 1-10.