Two statistically similar defenses will take the field Saturday at Bragg Memorial Stadium when the Florida A&M University Rattlers battle the Morgan State University Bears for Florida A&M’s homecoming game.
While neither team is a defensive powerhouse at this point in the season, both Morgan State and Florida A&M have been opportunistic.
Florida A&M (4-3, 3-1 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) is ranked sixth in total defense and has allowed 318 yards per game.
That same defense has 10 turnovers on the season so far, and shutout Savannah State University during the last home contest.
Team leaders like linebacker Alvis Graham and cornerback Qier Hall contribute to a cohesive and confident, if at times statistically inconsistent, unit.
“All of us have a job,” Graham said after holding South Carolina State’s second-ranked offense to 19 points. “We have a defensive scheme. Individually we have to pull it off, do our job.”
Graham leads the Rattlers in tackles with 46. He is tied for third on the team in sacks with 1.5.
Head coach Joe Taylor’s ability to rally his team after losses and sub-par performances keeps the Rattlers in a position to win the MEAC.
The Rattlers still have to face MEAC leaders Bethune-Cookman University (7-0, 4-0 in the MEAC) and Hampton (5-2, 4-1 in the MEAC).
“We have a 24-hour rule,” Hall said. “After the game we can contemplate on the game that just passed. After that Sunday we move on to the next week because we know we’ve got another game coming.”
Hall is second on the team in tackles with 40. He also has an interception, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a sack on the season.
Taylor’s defense will match up against Morgan State’s struggling offense. Morgan State averages a conference-worst 214 yards per game.
Savannah State averages 218 yards of offense per game and could not score against the Rattlers defense.
“We’ve really been playing better defensively,” Taylor said after the defensive performance at Savannah State. “We’re getting better. It was their goal to get a shutout; they played to get a shutout.”
Morgan State is ranked No. 5 in the MEAC in total defense, and has allowed 308 yards per game. They lead the MEAC in interceptions with 12.
Junior Reshaude Miller leads the team in interceptions with four. Despite the high-caliber secondary play, the Bears are still ranked No. 6 in total passing defense, allowing 155 yards through the air per game.
Bothdefenses have the tools and standout players to turn the tide Saturday’s homecoming game.