Coach Joe Taylor and the Florida A&M University Rattlers are searching for answers after two straight losses.
The South Carolina State Bulldogs (5-1, 3-0) handed the Rattlers (4-2, 2-1) their second loss of the season on Saturday. This marks the first time since 2007 the Rattlers have losat back-to-back games.
The top-ranked Rattler offense struggled behind three interceptions and the defense allowed 28 points in the second quarter.
A shutout in the second half did little to help things, as the offense could not come back from a 35-13 halftime deficit.
“South Carolina State really took this competition more seriously than we did,” Taylor said.
“After watching film, a guy here and a guy there missed an assignment. If you do that too many times against a good team you’re going to lose.”
Senior quarterback Curtis Pulley threw for 320 yards and a touchdown, but also threw three interceptions. Pulley was also held to a net gain of 22 yards on the ground with no touchdowns.
This is FAMU’s second loss in a row after starting the season 4-0. In the two losses, Pulley has thrown four interceptions against only one touchdown, despite FAMU’s passing offense leading the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. FAMU also leads the MEAC in first downs and total offense.
The Rattlers also led the MEAC in scoring before Saturday’s contest. The stats are only one part of the game, however, as FAMU is still 4-2 instead of 6-0.
“[We played] on the road, [in] very hostile territory, [against] two very outstanding teams,” Taylor said about the two losses.
The combined record of the four teams FAMU beat so far is 6-18, which raises questions about the caliber of the teams the Rattlers defeated so far this season.
Junior defensive back Qier Hall stressed the importance of playing, no matter the competition, before the game.
The defense was unable to build off the success they had against Miami’s passing game, failing to intercept a single pass.
FAMU now looks ahead to homecoming weekend and a match up against Norfolk State University (3-3, 2-2). The weekend after, FAMU will travel to Baltimore to take on the current leader of the MEAC Morgan State University (5-1, 3-0).
“There’s a lot of football still left,” Taylor said. “In my mind you’ve got Morgan State, South Carolina State, and FAMU. We all got five conference games left. I’ve told the young men we’ve got to correct those mistakes, don’t lose anymore, and I think at the end we’ll be just where we want to be.”
To get to “where they want to be,” Taylor is aware that improvements must be made.
“We’ve looked at the film, and we feel like there are corrections to be made to all three [units]. We just have to continue to work on all three,” Taylor said.