“This is a damn good football team we are getting ready to play, don’t buy that Kool-Aid that [Morgan State coach] Donald [Hill-Eley] is trying to serve,” he said. “We have to be more creative in terms of attacking them and trying to find a weakness — it’s like trying to break into Fort Knox with a spoon. Morgan is that good.”
The Bears (3-3, 1-1 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) will try to live up to Bailey’s praise when they drive 42 miles south to Greene Stadium in the District on Saturday afternoon at 1 to play the Bison (1-4, 0-2).
Morgan State’s defense is ranked second in the Football Championship Subdivision in total defense, yielding an average of just 229.5 yards per game. The unit is ranked first nationally in tackles for loss per game (10), seventh in pass defense (138.8 yards per game) and 10th in sacks (3.2 per game) and points allowed (17.8 per game).
The defense is led by standout linebackers Jarrell Guyton (36 tackles, eight for loss), Troy Leftwich (33, four) and Greg Onyiuke (26, four).
“The key to all this stuff is good players make coaches look great, and luckily we have some great talent,” Hill-Eley said. “There was a time when we ran these same plays and didn’t look that good.”
But Morgan State’s defense will need more than a well-designed game plan to slow down the Bison’s high-powered passing attack.
Howard quarterback Floyd Haigler has completed more than 60 percent of his passes for 1,476 yards with 10 touchdowns against nine interceptions. Haigler also has 86 yards and two touchdowns rushing this season. Howard’s offense also features four players with more than 20 receptions: Willie Carter (39 catches for 398 yards), Arlandus Hood (35 catches for 323 yards), Brandon Sherman (26 catches for 361 yards) and Ram McElrathbey (20 catches for 159 yards).
Morgan State, however, is third in the nation with 12 interceptions, and has the ability to shut down the Bison’s passing game. Last season, Morgan State outlasted Howard, 36-33 in overtime, marking their third straight win in the series.
“It’s not about local or D.C. bragging rights,” Hill-Eley said. “I don’t even visit there. It’s about letting young men on both sides enjoy the experience. I’m not moving down there — taxes are too high.”
BEARS (3-3, 1-1 MEAC) at HOWARD BISON (1-4, 0-2)
When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
Where: Greene Stadium, Washington, D.C.
TV/Radio: 88.9 FM