Behind Enemy Lines: N.C. Central football

Before every football game this year, The Blue Zone is going to sit down with a football writer from the opposing school’s student newspaper to get the scoop on their team and season.

This week, The Chronicle’s Bobby Colton spoke to The Campus Echo‘s Sports Editor Trenton Little about this weekend’s Bull City Gridiron Classic, pitting Durham’s two schools, Duke and North Carolina Central, against one another. The Chronicle: Not many casual fans have ever seen North Carolina Central’s team on the field. What is the main strength and main weakness for the Eagles in 2012?

Trenton Little: Last season was NCCU’s first year being a Division-1 program, in the MEAC. A weakness for the Eagles would have to be the youth of the team. The Eagles lost a lot of players from last year’s squad. Matthew Goggans is our quarterback, he’s a transfer and actually the first white quarterback to ever start at NCCU. Geovonie Irvine is probably the best player on the team. He’s a wide receiver and also returns punts and kicks. He’s actually from Durham, he went to Hillside High.

TC: After leading the Eagles to a victory in the opener against Fayetteville State, Goggans completed just 1-of-12 passes against Elon last week before giving way to Jordan Reid. Which Goggans do you expect to see on the field this Saturday, the one who threw for 223 yards and a score, or the one who managed just 10 yards?

TL: The game against Elon was Goggans second D-I start and second game for the NCCU Eagles. Goggans is still trying to get acclimated to the D-1 level of play, and an offense he has only spent an off-season in, so performances like the one against Elon are bound to happen. However, I expect him to respond in a major way taking on Duke after a disappointing showing last week.

TC: Duke football head coach David Cutcliffe praised NC Central’s improvement in the pass rush from game one to game two when speaking to the media earlier this week. Have you seen an improvement on that front, and who is responsible for the improved play?

TL: The defensive front sets the tone for the Eagles defense. Defensive lineman Xavier Proctor was named to the Preseason All-MEAC team and anchors the front four for NCCU.

TC: The Bull City Gridiron Classic was very successful for the city of Durham in 2009, the last time the game was played. As you mentioned earlier, Geovonie Irvine is from Durham, as are a number of other players on both teams, including Duke senior running back-turned-receiver Desmond Scott. Has there been any specific import placed on this game by the coaches or the players?

TL: The thing about sports is that it brings a lot of different people together. So I feel that an annual Duke/NCCU game will bring the Durham community together and establish better relationships. From what I know, the game doesn’t have any specific importance to the team. I think Coach Frazier III wants the guys to look at it as just another game on the schedule.

TC: Finally, what is your prediction for the game?

TL: I would say 45-28 Duke.


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