by Mike Potter
PEARSON CAFETERIA/DURHAM N.C. Central moved its weekly football rouser to a permanent location this week, its brand spanking new cafeteria where Coach Mose Rison (pictured) is participating in the athletic department's weekly radio show.
It's going to be a very positive thing for the Eagles if the move turns out to be good luck.
NCCU began its season on a bit of a disappointing note, falling 31-24 to Hampton as the Pirates prevailed because the Eagles made a few more mistakes.
But both the yardage statistics and Rison's comments are on the same page. The Eagles didn't get pushed around at all.
"After watching the film carefully on Sunday after returning from Hampton there were some real disappointments," Rison said. "We thought we played well enough to win the game."
The Eagles will have to play much better this week to have a chance to keep the fourth quarter interesting, much less pull off an upset.
They'll travel on Saturday to Liberty, the two-time defending champions of the Big South Conference. The Flames didn't win their season opener on the road, either, but the opponent was a little more powerful as they lost 33-20 at West Virginia.
Liberty will be one of three mountains on the Eagles' schedule over the next five weeks, as NCCU will also be going to Duke and Appalachian State. The games with their new city rivals and the state's best Division I Championship Subdivision team were late additions to the schedule, while Rison said the Liberty game has been looming for some time.
"Liberty is a good football team," Rison said. "That score Saturday against West Virginia is indicative of how good a team they are. They hung in there close for four quarters.
"We're going to have to play better than we did on Saturday. We knew playing Liberty this was going to be a challenge for us, but at the same time as we continue to grow we will not be afraid to play anybody."
Rison said he was happy about a lot of aspects of the Hampton game.
"I thought our kids played really hard," he said. "I was pleased with our defense. We played physical defense. Our team speed showed up.
"We had 20 players that played their first college football game on Saturday. We had a lot of youngsters on the field."
Rison was particularly happy with the kicking of true freshman Frankie Cardelle. And as the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, he particularly liked what he saw from signal-caller Michael Johnson.
Fullback and offensive captain Saeed Abdul-Azeez said the Eagles got some confidence out of the close loss.
"Liberty is a running team with some big guys just like Hampton," Abdul-Azeez said. "But we're as big and fast as anybody we play so we won't be intimidated.
"One game is not the season. There's a lot more football to be played. Three or four games down the road we'll be a lot better. We want to get better down the road, that's the whole goal."