The Aggie-Eagle classic kicks off tomorrow at 7:30pm. The Aggies from North Carolina A&T State University have won the last four matchups in this series and the last three games haven’t been close. A&T defeated Central in 2018 – 45-0, 54-0 in 2019, and 37-14 last year.
So how will A&T continue their dominance over their arch rivals? How can Central close the gap and pull an upset? Here are some key things to look out for in tomorrow’s showdown.
Keys for A&T:
Continue to Do What You Do: At the Big South Conference media day, A&T coach Sam Washington said his team was focused, but treating this like a normal game. Playing your rivals in front of an anticipated crowd of 40,000 could get you jacked up and do things out of character. The Aggies just need to play their brand of football. As Coach Washington said, “we’re going to do what we do and that’s run, block and tackle.”
Make Your QB1 Comfortable: Yesterday Coach Washington announced his starting quarterback for tomorrow’s game will be Zach Yeager. Yeager is a redshirt freshman from Minneapolis. The key to success for a young QB is to make him comfortable. Expect A&T to run the football early and often. I would also expect a few quick throws early to get Yeager in rhythm and build his confidence. The Aggies will need to jump on Central early and get a lead, so the young QB doesn’t feel too much pressure.
Keys for Central:
The Trenches: Central has been dominated by A&T lately and a lot of issues for the Eagles can be pinpointed to the trenches. Eagles’ coach Trei Oliver stated, “the last two years we were beaten up really bad,” noting they had to start one or two redshirt freshmen on the offensive line. Coach Oliver says this year his O line is healthy and experienced. Oliver believes his team has playmakers, but as he said, “If you can’t win up front, you’re going to have a long day.”
Turnovers and Special Teams: When you are trying to get over the hump vs your rival you must create plays and put yourself in ideal situations. Central can help themselves by forcing turnovers and protecting the football. Forcing turnovers early in the game applied pressure to the Aggies and their freshman quarterback. Football is a game of three phases. One that is overlooked often, but can make a huge difference is special teams. If the Eagles can make some plays on special teams, it will help swing the game in their favor.