Florida A&M will look to rejuvenate after a disappointing loss last week, as they match-up against conference rival and defending Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference champions, the South Carolina State Bulldogs on Saturday.
The Rattlers will try to snap a seven game losing streak against the Bulldogs, who are currently ranked no.1 in both the SBN Sports Network Black College Football Poll and the HBCU Coaches Top 10 poll.
FAMU head coach Joe Taylor insists that his team is ready to execute and complete there assignments for an entire 60 minutes.
“There billing this as a heavyweight fight,” Taylor said. “Well, come six o’clock it will be a heavyweight fight.”
Offensively, the Rattlers will look to establish a rushing attack after not running the ball sufficiently last game (24 yards rushing). Florida A&M will rely on senior running back Phillip Sylvester to carry the bulk of the load. Sylvester is returning to the starting lineup after missing last week’s game against Tennessee State with a foot injury.
Lookout for sophomore running backs Eddie Rocker and Lonvontae Page to get into the mix, as FAMU looks to pound the ball inside against the Bulldogs. Rocker continues to generate yardage this season, rushing for 116 yards on 27 carries with two touchdown, averaging 4.3 yards per carry.
FAMU’s aerial attack will be led by sophomore wideout T.J. Lawrence, who currently leads the receiving corps catching nine passes for 165 yards. Lawrence said that the Rattler’s receiving corps will be well equipped for this week’s game.
“We had a long film session this week, and that gave us the opportunity to see errors that we will have to correct for our upcoming game,” Lawrence said. “I think we’ll be well prepared.”
Junior receiver Brian Tymes also added that the Rattler’s film study was very beneficial in their preparation for South Carolina State.
“Watching film and correcting our mistakes will really help us this week,” Tymes said. “We’re going up against the number one pass defense in the nation, and we will have to be ready to perform.”
Watch out for junior wide receiver Kevin Elliot to be a key asset in the passing game also. Last year, Elliot led the offense against the Bulldogs catching nine passes for 111 yards with one touchdown.
However, if the Rattlers want to launch an aerial attack against SCSU the offensive line will have to protect sophomore Martin Ukpai, who was sacked seven times last week. This will be very crucial for the Rattler’s offense, as they line-up against SCSU’s defensive lineman Jason Ayers. Last season, Ayers had one sack and three tackles for a loss against the FAMU offense.
The Bulldogs are coming off an impressive 61-20 victory over Benedict University in their last contest. They will look to carry that momentum into Bragg Stadium, looking to extend their win streak to 17 games against MEAC opponents with a victory against FAMU.
South Carolina State is led by 6-foot-3-inch, 257-pound senior quarterback Malcolm Long. Long is currently the preseason MEAC Offensive Player of the Year, having scored 25 touchdowns and thrown for 2,488 yards last season.
Although the Bulldogs will face FAMU without MEAC all-time leading rusher William Ford, they still boast one of the conferences best rushing tandems. Running backs Asheton Jordan (7.5 ypc) and Chris Massey (6.0 ypc) have combined for 592 yards and eight touchdowns this season.
The Rattlers will host the South Carolina State Bulldogs Saturday at 6.pm. in Florida A&M’s home opening blackout at Bragg Memorial Stadium. The game will be broadcasted on WXBX 96.1 F.M. and televised on ESPNU.