PASS OFFENSE: C-
Arguably the most questioned area of the team before fall camp, the passing game is rounding out to be a solid and steady contributor to the team. “We are finding ways to get open by pressing coverage,” Brian Tymes said. Tymes caught a touchdown pass against Delaware State but said the receiving corps is only playing at around 70 percent on their playing ability scale. Martin Ukpai, a first year starter at quarterback, has found his receivers on several occasions with four touchdown passes to four receivers. Last years leading receivers Kevin Elliot, Adrian Smith, and Isaac West have combined to catch zero touchdown passes. In part due to transfer Antonio Lawrence who along with Kevin Elliot leads the rattlers with nine receptions apiece.
RUSH OFFENSE: D+
Lack luster performances in two of the four games played, the rush offense is further behind than originally expected. One of the veteran positions on the field, the rushing attack was expected to dominate games to relieve some pressure off first year starter at quarterback Martin UKpai. Injuries to starting tailback Phillip Sylvester and key offensive lineman have plagued the rattlers thus far. The rattlers offense has only managed to gain 105.7 yards per game on the ground. With Phillip Sylvester set to return the offense looks to up their rushing attack with their 2,000-yard rusher ready to run. With four running backs battling for playing time, one can only hope the running game gets better.
PASS DEFENSE: B+
The most consistent of the areas on the field, the secondary, and the rattlers Defense is not allowing teams to take to the air. After Jacory Harris tortured the Rattlers secondary for 210 yards in only one half, the pass defense has not allowed a 200-yard passer in the last three games. Most impressive was a 14-yard outing against a Howard offense that managed only 146 yards total in the game. With three of the four starting defensive backs already recording an interception, the pass defense wont let up. “Our goal is forty defensive turnovers, ” Qier Hall said. A senior cornerback, Hall understands that because the focus is more on the linebackers and offense the talent of the secondary has yet to be really seen.
RUSH DEFENSE: C-
With two backs already surpassing the 100-yard mark, the rush defense will have to get better and get better quick. Following consecutive weeks of stellar rush defense, in last weeks Atlanta Classic the front seven seemed as if they forgot they could actually stop the rush. Looking confused and gassed at certain points of the game it was hard to watch Tennessee State’s Preston Brown dominate in an impressive 233 yard rushing outing. “We have to study a lot of film if we want to get better, we are gonna be better,” Alvis Graham said. He said the most important thing for him is becoming a student of the game.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D+
Lets face it, Leroy Vann is gone and the big play the team is waiting on might be gone as well. Jerral Stewart and Antonio Lawrence are doing a decent job in fielding kicks and punts but their ability to make long runs could be questioned with the longest return being a 56 yarder against Howard. Trevor Scott has made half of his field goals and already has missed three extra point attempts.
Coach Taylor’s resume speaks for itself. With three CIAA championships and five MEAC championships, the legacy Coach Taylor is starting is a great one at FAMU. Although recent struggles have proven to the contrary, Coach Taylor still believes the team is headed in the right direction. “The team can only get better, and we will have to bring full staff,” Taylor said while addressing the adjustments he must make to better prepare his team.
It’s fair to say the rattler football team has been average after starting the season 2-2. Losses to University Of Miami and Tennessee State exposed the team’s weaknesses and their ability to establish a high profile offensive attack. The defense has maintained their enthusiasm and has showed they could be as stout a defense that FAMU has seen in years. Special teams have contributed little to the all-purpose yardage. They seem to ensure horrible field position causing longer drives for the offense. And of course Coach Taylor being Coach Taylor.
As students, we know that a ‘C’ isn’t the most comfortable grade to have. It doesn’t come with the stress of an ‘A’ to maintain greatness or the desperation of an ‘F’ to try to remain relevant. A ‘C’ leaves room for growth and improvement, or laziness and despair. Which path is our football team going to take?