The Florida A&M University Rattler football team gear up for their last home game of the 2015 season, playing a nationally ranked North Carolina A&T University Aggie team on Halloween night.
FAMU’s head football coach Alex Wood and the Rattler ball club is coming off of a bye-week after a defeating a winless Delaware State Hornet team in a punishing 41-13 homecoming win.
“It’s an exciting thing for us to play a ranked team,” Wood said in Tuesday’s press conference. “We’re looking forward to it. Preparations are underway and the guys are feeling pretty good about this opportunity.”
The Rattlers have not beaten the Aggies since 2011 in a 26-20 victory. Since then, the Rattlers have continuously struggled with A&T year after year, as they hope to defeat the number one team in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference with an upset win on Saturday.
“For this to be our last home game it’s really planned out perfectly, to be a Halloween game, the last home game, and to have a team of this caliber to come to our stadium; we wouldn’t ask for anything more and we’re accepting the challenge, preparing mentally to play a physical ball game against a good team,” senior linebacker Akil Blount said.
Having this bye-week enabled Florida A&M to rest up and welcome some much-needed players back to the starting lineup, such as Pat Dalton who is a key asset to the Rattler offense down in trenches serving on the offensive lineman.
“We needed some time off to regenerate, reenergize, and get some guys healthy. I talked to our team about winning going into the bye-week and having a goal of winning coming out of it, so that’s what we’re focused on,” Wood said.
The Rattlers will have their hands full entering this battle against the Aggies as they dominate on the offensive side of the ball led by junior running back Tarik Cohen, who has accumulated 783 rushing yards and added 11 touchdowns already for the 2015 season.
Cohen has been the top rusher in the MEAC for three consecutive years, along with being a two-time MEAC Offensive Player of the Year.
“We’ve got to try to outnumber them at the line of scrimmage in terms of our defenders. We’ve got to stop the run; we focus on that no matter who we play, but that’s the most important aspect of playing good defense,” Wood said.
Besides facing off with the No. 1 ranked team in all of the Historically Black College and University Football Pools, this game is emotional and very special as the seniors on the team will go to war on the field at Bragg Memorial Stadium in front of an incomparable Rattler crowd for one last time.
Amongst many of the seniors who will not return to the starting lineup for the Rattlers for the 2016 season is the four year starting linebacker, Akil Blount.
“Every game is an exciting game because you know you only have so many opportunities, but I’ve just really enjoyed playing in front of this home crowd my senior season,” Blount said.
Another impact player who will have their final debut at home for the Rattlers is the graduate transfer student from Iowa State University, running back Devondrick Nealy.
“It’s going to be exciting. The atmosphere and being around the other guys is just a great experience,” Nealy said.
The Rattlers plan to take advantage of this opportunity as they face a well put-together football team in hopes of spoiling their undefeated season.
“We just really want to beat a really good football team. That’s the exciting part about sports, football especially, because you get an opportunity to play against a really good team. I think playing a team of this caliber brings out the best of everybody,” Wood stated.