Starting off strong is a key to success in any sport, and opening up with a victory against an inter-conference opponent can do great things for a team’s morale and ranking.
After handing the Delaware State University Hornets their first loss of the season, HEAD Coach Joe Taylor and the Florida A&M University Rattlers look to take care of business against the Winston-Salem State University Rams in Winston-Salem, N.C., next week.
“You always want to win that first opener, but more importantly it was a conference game. To add a little to that, this was the first time in five years that this program come out on top against Del. State,” Coach Joe Taylor said.
The final score against Del. State was 21-12. Key players like senior quarterback Curtis Pulley and junior wide receiver Issac West are looking to have repeat performances as high performance players.
The week leading up to Thursday night’s nationally televised match-up has been filled with distractions and hardships. The week itself before the game is shorter, with only four days of preparation before the game.
“We used Monday (Labor Day) as an extra day. We were able to put quite a bit of time in. We were able to get a lot of from done in terms of introducing what we are expecting [from Winston-Salem],” Taylor said.
Pulley doesn’t have any problems with the shorter week.
“I don’t think there’s any pressure, turning around and playing quick. There’s just a mental hump that everyone has to get over. Everyone’s body is going to be tired, we’re going to be sore, we just have to come out and focus,” Pulley said.
Focus is something that Taylor is stressing for this upcoming game, as FAMU committed 10 penalties for 98 yards during their game against the Hornets; the majority of them were holding calls.
“Normally, if an offensive player’s hands are found outside of the breastplate of a defender, he will get a holding call on him. We just had to reconnect the though that the hands must be on the inside. We’ve worked on it, discussed it, and put some drills in practice to explain it,” Taylor said.
The depth at running back has also been tested yet again; sophomore back Lonvontae Page will miss the rest of the season due to surgery after being struck by a ricochet bullet. Backup running back Eddie Rocker is looking to fill the hole left by Page’s absence.
“I just have to prepare and be ready. The coach is counting on me and the players are counting on me also. I just have to come out and be ready to play,” Rocker said.
During the last match up between the Rattlers and the Rams, FAMU came out on top with a score of 23-0. The game will be nationally televised on ESPNU on Thursday, September 10 at 7:30 p.m.