The Florida A&M football team ran away from the Atlanta classic with a win this year, but many couldn’t stop talking about the mid-game quarterback change.
The game kicked off with redshirt sophomore quarterback Austin Trainor, leading the team. Mid-way through the game, coaches replaced the sophomore with freshman quarterback Damien Fleming.
“It was a decision made by our head coach,” quarterback coach Quinn Gray said. “It seemed like our starter was pressing a little bit and doing things that weren’t good for the offense, so we felt at this point in the season we needed a win desperately.”
Trainor took the place of quarterback Martin Ukpai toward the end of the 2010 football season, giving the team that mid-season ammunition the coaches look for in the position.
The same spark is what they were looking for when Fleming took the field at the Atlanta Classic.
“We felt we needed to make a change to see if we could get the spark that we needed to get our season turned around. We have two good quarterbacks and, if one isn’t playing well, we feel that the other one can come in and get the job done,” Gray said.
Damien Fleming took the Georgia Dome field in the third quarter of the game and led a drive that was capped by Lavante Page’s touchdown in the last eleven seconds of the quarter.
Fleming said he wasn’t nervous replacing Trainor in the third quarter.
“I knew I had to be ready to lead the team, whenever my number got called, so I just had to get the guys behind me and lead the team to victory,” Fleming said.
The freshman intended to change the demeanor of the FAMU offense.
“Before I got in the game a lot of heads were down. When I got in…everybody was getting open, so we just moved the ball. We kept getting first downs, kept putting the ball in the end zone and eventually we came back,” Fleming said. “I think we did well. There are a lot of things that we need to improve on but, practicing hard, we will get there.”
Trainor also saw the change as a positive decision for the team’s momentum.
“It’s something that the coaches thought needed to be done. We were stagnant in the third quarter because of some penalties and then I threw an interception,” Trainor said. “They just wanted to get a spark to reignite things and that’s the best way they saw to do it.”
Trainor said he is very confident in his team members and about the playing time the coaches have decided to give Fleming.
“He’s a very capable player, so he will do very well. Iron sharpens iron, so I know it’s going to turn out good for the both of us in the long run,” Trainor said.
The FAMU Rattlers play Delaware State on Sat., Oct. 1, at Bragg Stadium. Both teams are 2-2 and 0-1 in the MEAC. Fleming will start the game. This will be his first start of his collegiate football career.
“Everybody is coming together,” Fleming said. “I’m bringing the guys together trying to get them to believe in me, so whenever I’m out there I just give it my all.”