When Howard went to Orangeburg to play South Carolina State last year, Bison linebacker Martin Brown stayed home with a knee injury and listened to the game on the radio. He clearly remembers the humiliation of Howard's 50-0 loss.
"It was the most helpless feeling in the world," said Brown, who will lead the Bison in a rematch in Howard's home opener Saturday at 1 o'clock. "I wanted to jump through the radio and help them. But there was nothing I could do."
Brown will be in a position to do something this year. Fully recovered from the strained ligaments that forced him to miss most of his sophomore season, Brown has been selected as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference's defensive player of the week twice this year and leads the Bison with 32 tackles. He has recovered two fumbles and has one interception.
Against South Carolina State, which is ranked first in the I-AA poll, Brown will play a vital role in attempting to stop quarterback Charles Glaze and one of the nation's top running games.
"When we hit him (Glaze), he'll definitely know he's playing the 'new' Howard," said the 6-foot-2, 212-pound Brown, who has deflected five passes. "Things are different this year. We carry ourselves better, and we have a greater will to win. No way they're going to score any 50 points again."
Brown led Howard in tackles as a freshman with 103 and had 20 before being injured last year. Against South Carolina State, which has defeated Howard nine straight times by a total score of 310-56, Brown, left end Ben Tynes and outside linebacker Carroll Hughes will have to react to a well-disciplined option offense that runs almost exclusively to the left side of the defense.
"We'll play an assignment defense," said Brown. "Who each one of us picks up will be dictated by how they move and line up. But I'm looking forward to playing against them. We play better against running teams, and if we shut them down, we'll be even more heralded."
"South Carolina State runs three out of every four plays," said Howard Coach Joe Taylor, whose team beat Bethune-Cookman last week, 20-17, to raise its record to 1-2.
"But I'm not scared to play them," Taylor continued. "This game creates for us a chance some people wait a lifetime to get. We have the chance to be recognized as somebody if we beat them. We can't play against their tradition, but if we have people willing to make sacrifices, things can change."
Howard's offense has been slow to produce this season, and the defense has been the strong point. The Bison held opponents to 37 points in three games, recovering four fumbles and making two interceptions. Last week, Howard limited Bethune-Cookman to 65 yards rushing.
"I don't know much about Howard, but I have heard about their defense," said South Carolina State Coach Bill Davis, whose team has won three straight MEAC titles. "Coach Taylor's philosophies have his players believing they can beat anybody. We won't be taking them lightly. Howard is capable of winning."