In Tuesday’s press conference, head coach Earl Holmes said he felt like his team is getting in a groove.
“We want to create a snowball effect,” Holmes said. “We are trying to get on a roll.”
The Rattlers (3-6, 2-3 MEAC) were able to get back on track Saturday, beating the Norfolk State Spartans (2-7, 2-3 MEAC) 16-6.
Florida A&M is trying to end another streak by beating the South Carolina State Bulldogs on Saturday.
The Bulldogs (6-3, 4-1 MEAC) have won nine of the last ten meetings with the Rattlers. The Rattlers’ last win against the Bulldogs came in a 27-24 win in 2011.
Junior quarterback Damien Fleming and the Rattlers’ offense are set to face the Bulldogs’ stout defense, which is ranked second in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
Fleming is showing signs of improvement, Holmes said, despite going 6 for 16 in a 66-yard passing performance in Norfolk, Va.
“There are a lot of hurricanes, but at the end of those hurricanes, there are rainbows,” Holmes said. “[Fleming] is starting to see those rainbows.”
The Rattlers’ defense held the Spartans passing attack to 66 yards. The Spartans’ three passers completed only five passes and threw two interceptions.
Redshirt freshman cornerback Patrick Aiken, who is tied for the conference lead with four interceptions, is one of the top defensive players in the MEAC.
“If they run, I’m ready to make a play for my team,” Aiken said. “If they pass, I’m going to take it.”
The entire unit is brimming with confidence after only allowing 217 yards of total offense against the Spartans. FAMU plans to use Saturday’s game as momentum to face the Bulldogs.
The Rattlers will bring the fourth best defense in the conference, led by MEAC Defensive Player of the Week Brandon Denmark, an outside linebacker. Denmark had 10 tackles and a 10-yard sack against Norfolk State.
“We are putting things together as a team,” Denmark said. “I want to leave it all on the field.”
With a matchup between two top-five defenses in the conference, the key matchups will be in the trenches. The offensive and defensive lines are the Bulldogs’ linchpin, but Holmes has faith his team will succeed.
“We are playing better up front on both sides of the ball,” Holmes said.
The Rattlers hope to even up their conference record to 3-3 Saturday. Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m.