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Coach Frazier hoping N.C. Central gets tested Thursday vs. Rutgers
While he understands that his North Carolina Central squad will be a major underdog in its season opener against Rutgers on Thursday, first-year coach Henry Frazier insists the Eagles are playing for something tangible.
“Identity,” said Frazier, whose squad is making its Football Championship Subdivision debut, stepping up in class against FBS-member Rutgers. “I want to find out what type of ballclub I have. I want to see, when adversity hits, how we respond. Or when we do something good, how do we respond? It’s going to tell me about the type of ballclub we have.”
“We have 10 ballgames after this one. So we spend three or four weeks preparing for the first game and then we only have three or four games preparing for the second. You have to lay your foundation during training camp so a lot of times we lose perspective in terms of the first game. I won’t do that. We’ll keep everything in perspective and we will have an identity once this game is over.”
The Eagles, who are also in their first season in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, return 14 starters from last season’s 3-8 squad. Redshirt senior quarterback Michael Johnson and his top target, junior wideout Geovonie Irvine, are among nine returning offensive starters looking to excel in Frazier’s spread attack.
“There’s some talent here,” said Frazier, whose club was picked to finish seventh in the MEAC this season. “That’s one of the things that I’m definitely excited about. We just have to get on the same page, and that’s what I’m excited about in terms of finding out exactly what type of ballclub we have. When things go good or go bad, I just want to see how we respond as a ballclub.”
The 43-year old Frazier, a 2009 Eddie Robinson Award winner who compiled a 69-54 record in previous stints at Prairie View A&M and Bowie State, says he believes in the concept of putting the team ahead of individual achievements.
“It’s been pretty smooth so far,” Frazier said. “I’ve transitioned a few times and hopefully you get better as you go through. I think we picked up a few things here and there from the last couple jobs I was at. We have to apply them here, but what I’ve learned is we have a captive audience in terms of our players. They’re buying into what we’re selling. That includes the alumni, the administration and our students. So we’re just excited to get things started and see what this group is made of.”
Asked what he has taken from his previous coaching stops, Frazier said: “That it’s a game. Whether you’re playing in the NFL or Pop Warner, football is a real simple sport. It’s about tackling. It’s about blocking. It’s about execution. So I don’t too high or low about wins or losses. It’s about playing the game the right way, doing the right things on and off the field, and the results will take care of themselves.”
While he understands the season-opening result probably won’t be positive in the win-loss column, Frazier said he’s excited about the prospects of getting tested under the lights Thursday night at High Point Solutions Stadium.
“I look at it as it’s a football game,” said Frazier, whose defense features a 4-2-5 base defensive alignment. “We keep things normal as coaches. And the players are going to follow our lead. So if we get out there wide-eyed, they’re going to be wide-eyed. If we get out there and we’re focused just like we are on the practice field than the players are going to be focused.
“We’ll be business as usual. We’ve been around the block as coaches and our players will follow our lead. So we have to do it the right way.”
By Keith Sargeant, Daily Record