The Florida A&M University’s football team (4-2) is fifth in the MEAC conference standings and hoping for a late run in the second half of the season.
Saturday’s game against Southern University’s Jaguars (4-2) will put them one step closer to competing for the MEAC crown. Here is how the season has gone so far.
The Rattler defense is not quite a solid unit yet, but individual accomplishments have made up for many shortcomings. The secondary is one of the most opportunistic units on the defense. Quier Hall and Curtis Holcomb have combined for the MEAC lead with three interceptions each.
“I am impressed with the fact we are winning and how we are playing together, instead of individuals, that’s impressing to me,” said Holcomb, defensive back. The defensive line’s pass rush compliments the success of the secondary.
The defense has a total of 11 team sacks three of which belongs to linebacker Bryan Parker. Parker is tied for fifth place in the MEAC with three sacks.
The Rattlers are plus three in the turnover margin, which ranks second in the conference. The defense and kickoff teams have forced 13 turnovers.
The Rattlers have the number one ranked offense in the MEAC averaging 30.2 points per game.
The strong point of the 30.2 points per game has been the passing game. Quarterback Eddie Battle is the first quarterback in the MEAC with a rating of 145.28 and fourth in passing yards with 759. Two main reasons why Battle is doing well is the chemistry between his two top receivers Kevin Elliot and Issac West. The duo has combined for 52 catches and 733 yards through the first six games. Elliot and West are ranked fourth and fifth in receiving in the MEAC.
West, wide receiver from Tallahassee described the success as, “coming together as a team and being more focused.”
Teammates said running back Phillip Sylvester is the player to watch out for in the second half of the season. Sylvester has only 382 rushing yards and three touchdowns but he is expected to carry the load in the backfield.
“Phil will make the most of the carries,” said Collins, left guard from Miami. Efficiency has also been an important factor to the Rattlers success. Offensively the team has retained ball possession for an average of 32:06 minutes per game, which ranks fourth in the MEAC.
The offense is first in the MEAC on third down conversions.
The offense has converted on 49.4 percent of the third down opportunities averaging 18 first downs per game.
Collins said the offense has been playing cohesively.
“We are ignoring the small things and focusing on improving every day,” Collins said. “As a unit the offensive line is playing good but not up to our potential.”
The Rattlers have been especially impressive on special teams.
The headliner of the kick return teams is cornerback and return specialist Leroy Vann. Vann is fourth in the MEAC in all-purpose yards with 113.8 yards per game and has a total of three touchdowns from returns.
He is also ranked first in the MEAC in kick return yards with 502.
Running back Phillip Sylvester, from Marianna said without hesitation, “Leroy Vann is the most valuable player on the team.”
The kicking game has been formidable. Kicker Tom Scott has converted on four of the seven field goals he has attempted.
Scott is currently 23 for 23 on extra points with a 100 percent rating.