Before North Carolina A&T’s football team returns to conference play in their newest home, they’ll face an old rival this weekend.
The Aggies, looking for their first win of 2023, will take a trip to Norfolk State to play the Spartans, a game that head coach Vincent Brown has spent the bye week preparing his team for.
“Three quarters of practices have been focused on us – our fundamental skills, development, skills and systems and allocated a portion of practice to Norfolk State’s gameplan,” Brown said. “The keys will be our ability to stop their running game, get our running game going, and be efficient with our passing.”
NC A&T will be challenged by a Spartan run game that ran wild in the rail against Coastal Athletic Association member Towson last week, compiling 350 yards on the ground in 54 attempts. Brown attributed nearly 100 extra rushing yards in the Aggies’ 27-3 loss to Elon on Sept. 16 to missed tackles.
Redshirt junior cornerback Aaron Harris agrees.
“We spent this bye week on technique and attention to detail,” Harris said. “I would catch myself diving instead of running through contact, so we’ve been working on running through the tackle.”
Both coach and player understand that 0-3 is not a great position, but they’re focused on improving the fortunes of this year’s Aggie team one step at a time.
“We are disappointed at where we are in the season, but we’re not discouraged,” Brown says. “There are brighter days ahead. We talk all the time about not beating ourselves, we don’t turn the ball over, and we’re among the least penalized teams in our conference, so the next step is coaches making sure we’re putting our guys in the right position and that they execute.”
“We know people are going to talk because we’ve started 0-3, but like Coach Brown says, ‘It’s about us,’” added Harris, who intercepted two passes in A&T’s 49-24 win over Norfolk State last season. “We block out the noise and don’t listen to the outsiders. It’s really up to us to come out with the win. We’re the ones on the field playing.”
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