Both Morgan State’s Donald Hill-Eley and North Carolina A&T’s Rod Broadway know that a true assessment of where their teams stand will start on Thursday night in Greensboro. After playing non-FCS opponents in their last two games, the longtime MEAC foes will open up conference play in front of a national audience as ESPNU will broadcast live from Aggie Stadium.
After an opening week loss to Coastal Carolina, the Aggies (2-1) spent their last two weeks pummeling Division II opponents. First there was a 77-0 shellacking of West Virginia State and then a 40-7 win over Virginia Union of Lynchburg.
“I think we’re moving in the right direction, but I don’t think the last two games are a good gauge of where we are as a football team,” Broadway said during his weekly teleconference. “I think we’ll have a lot more answers after this game than we have right now on the direction we’re moving and what we’ll need to get done as far as the football team is concern.”
Conversely, the Bears (2-1) are coming off back-to-back defeats at the hands of Football Bowl Subdivision Opponents Buffalo and Akron. Despite his team’s 66-6 loss to Akron the last time his team took the field, Hill-Eley had plenty of positives to draw upon heading into Thursday’s game.
“They don’t quit. These young men find a way to keep fighting,” he said. “We went against Buffalo and were able to put up 34 points against an FBS team that was very physical and wanted to dominate us. We played Akron good for a half.”
The two teams have had ten days to recover since their last games. The coaches both said that break proved beneficial for their teams.
‘We had some bruises and lumps and we needed to recover,” Hill-Eley said. “Recovery is just as important as preparation.”
When asked if it was more difficult to prepare for a team that had a few extra days of rest, Broadway said the fact that both teams had identical made the opponents time between games a moot point.
“We’re in the same boat. I don’t think that the advantage is to anyone in this situation,” he said. “We had an opportunity to work and to hopefully get better during the week.”
Simply put, both coaches are looking forward to seeing where their teams stand underneath the bright lights of Aggie Stadium for a rare Thursday night game.
“Looking at that team, they can run the ball well, throw the ball well and they have a very staunch defense,” Hill-Eley said. “Everything that I just said is paper work, but Thursday night at 7:30, everything is going to be tested.”
The rare opportunity to play in front of a national audience was obviously a bonus in Broadway’s mind.
“We’re looking forward to playing again,” Broadway said. “I think our guys are excited about playing, we’re excited about playing as the game is going to be played on TV and hopefully we’ll have a good showing on TV.”