As a member of Division I-A the Rattlers will only be allowed to schedule two I-AA teams per season. So this year’s schedule will be as easy as it gets for a while. Eight teams on FAMU’s scedule finished last season over .500, including Alabama State, who beat the Rattlers last Saturday 38-22. Here’s what the Rattlers can expect from the remaining teams on their schedule.
Sept. 6 Morgan State (7-5, 5-3 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conf.)
The Bears averaged over 30 points a game last season but their defense let them down. They ranked last in the MEAC in points allowed and rushing yards allowed per game. The defense is returning all 11 starters and QB Bradshaw Littlejohn, who averaged 200 all-purpose yards per game.
Sept. 13 at Florida (8-5, 6-2 Southeastern Conf.)
When a team loses its top passer, top rusher, top receiver, top sack man, and several of its top tacklers, they are going to struggle the following year. But the Gators will have experienced options on the team, including senior wideouts Carlos Perez and Kelvin Knight.
Sept. 20 vs Tennessee State (2-10, 1-5 Ohio Valley Conf.)
Although former Florida State quarterback Adrian McPherson is currently enrolled at TSU, he is not on the team’s roster. Last year the offense had turnover issues, throwing three more picks than touchdowns. The Tigers are returning a good pair of defensive backs in Deon Giddens and Ahmed Safeullah.
Sept. 27 Delaware State (4-8, 2-6 MEAC)
Offensively, the Hornets couldn’t move the ball last year, and were last in the MEAC in passing yards and total yards. The only star on DSU is receiver DeShaun Morris. Defensively, DSU lost linebacker Justin Mitchell, who led the team in four defensive categories.
Oct. 4 vs Jackson State (7-4, 6-2 Southwestern Athletic Conf.)
Senior quarterback Robert Kent threw for over 3,300 yards and 31 touchdowns last season. The Tigers are also returning two of their top three receivers, Torrey Ross and Timothy Manning, who led the team last year in catches, yards and yards per catch.
Oct. 11 at Howard (6-5, 4-4 MEAC)
The Bison were one of those teams last season that had success moving the ball, but could not put it in the end zone. Howard has a good running game, featuring Jay Colbert, who was third in the MEAC with 1,001 yards rushing. He’s returning for his senior season.
Oct. 18 at North Carolina A&T (4-8, 2-6 MEAC)
The Aggies lost four games by four points or less last year. The team lost its top quarterback, tackler and tailback, but is returning receiver Jamal Jones, who led the team with 41 catches last year.
Oct. 25 Norfolk State (5-6, 2-6 MEAC)
Last season the Spartans were either last or next-to-last in the MEAC in every offensive category, scoring 17 points or less in six games. Spartan quarterbacks threw only five touchdowns the whole year.
Nov. 1 vs Hampton (7-5, 5-3 MEAC)
Hampton had the best scoring offense in the MEAC last season (33 ppg). One of the main reasons was all-MEAC receiver Zuriel Smith, now a member of the Dallas Cowboys. Although Smith is gone, the Pirates still have a lot of weapons, including MEAC Defensive Player of the Year, lineman Issac Hilton.
Nov. 15 at South Carolina State (7-5, 4-4 MEAC)
SCSU quarterback Reese McCampbell, who averaged 234 all-purpose yards last yearis back. McCampbell will join receiver Terrance Metcalf, who led the MEAC last season in average yards per catch (24.1).
Nov. 22 vs Bethune-Cookman (11-2, 7-1 MEAC)
The reigning MEAC champs are the preseason favoriets to repeat. Led by QB Allen Suber, B-CC was the conference’s second best scoring team last year. On defense the team lost I-AA’s top defensive back Rashean Mathis, but are returning most of their other starters.
Dominique Drake can be reached at email@example.com.