South Carolina State’s football team travels to Greensboro Saturday hoping to snap a six-game losing streak to North Carolina A&T.
“(A&T) has been a problem for us,” SC State head coach Buddy Pough said at his weekly press conference Monday. “They’re 0-3, and everyone thinks they’re bad, but don’t you believe it. They’re as a good as they’ve ever been. They will be playing their first home game, and you can bet they will be lying in wait for us.”
This current streak started in 2015 when South Carolina State attempted a fake punt late in the fourth quarter that was intercepted by North Carolina A&T’s Denzel Jones. The Aggies drove for the game-winning score, defeating SC State 9-6.
“There’s all kinds of painful kicking experiences in my past with A&T,” Pough said. “The fake punt wasn’t successful, and that’s when we started losing to them. We had it too, I’m still broken-hearted about it.”
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Special teams came into play last season when SC State elected not to try a game-tying field goal, but rather fake the kick. North Carolina A&T stopped the Bulldogs short and eventually won the game 27-17.
Pough said Monday he feels good about his special teams group after two games this season. Kicker Gavyn Zimmerman was named the MEAC Specialist of the Week following SC State’s 33-9 victory over Bethune-Cookman. In that game, Zimmerman kicked two field goals and converted on three-of-four extra point attempts.
“We were better on special teams (against Bethune-Cookman),” Pough said. “(Gavyn) is pretty consistent inside 40 yards, and I’m pretty confident in what he can do.”
North Carolina A&T kicker Andrew Brown has converted each of his five field goal attempts and has a long of 49 yards.
SC State is entering Saturday’s game after having a bye week. Pough said the team spent much of the week working with younger guys and trying to figure out how to improve the number in some of the statistical categories.
“Normally, I would not want a bye week this early (in the season),” Pough said. “But, in this case, we were broken up pretty good.”
The Bulldogs suffered some losses along the offensive line following the first two games. Pough said Nick Taiste is close to being ready to return while Chris Simon is probable against North Carolina A&T. Ian Shark is expected to miss the next two weeks after having surgery on his hand.
“We feel comfortable with the next man up (along the offensive line),” Pough said. “We have some young linemen starting to get some work. The key will be whether we can stay healthy for the rest of the season.”
The Bulldogs begin a stretch of nine straight games Saturday against North Carolina A&T.
(North Carolina A&T) are in a situation where they will try most anything to win this football game,” Pough said. “When you’re staring at an 0-4 start, you’re going to do whatever it takes to keep that from happening.”
Following the press conference, it was announced that South Carolina State’s Oct. 1 game in Columbia against South Carolina will be a noon kickoff and televised on the SEC Network. It will be the third meeting between the schools and first since 2009.