With the Florida A&M Rattlers having their sights set on their upcoming matchup against the Norfolk State Spartans, the Rattlers will look to extend their winning streak to three games in a row and secure their first conference win of the season.
While home-field advantage may sound like a cliche term when a team is looking to harness momentum, this term seems to apply to both teams —- at least dating back to recent memory. In last year’s homecoming meeting at Bragg Memorial Stadium between the two schools, the Rattlers were able to take care of business in a 17-0 shutout over the Spartans, while Norfolk State got the best of FAMU by a score of 35 – 28 in 2017.
This game can be decided within the first half, as FAMU’s high-powered attack on offense has helped them outscore their last two opponents by a combined 59-7 first-half margin. With the Spartans coming on the heels of back to back blowouts to Coastal Carolina and Montana State, NSU has given up 102 points combined points in their last two games, while only putting up 28 points of their own, since their 44 -21 win over Virginia State.
With the Rattlers hoisting a 2 – 1 record so far this season, (first since 2010) they are looking for their best start since their 2009 campaign, where they saw themselves cruise to a 4 – 0 record.
While the Rattlers have been missing contributions from some their key players such as Chad Hunter, Marcus Williams, and Bishop Bonnett, due to the injury bug, FAMU Head Coach Willie Simmons seems to have established the next man up mentality within the team.
“If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready and those guys have stayed ready by coming to work every single day, watching film, lifting weights, going to treatment, doing the little things that it takes to be ready to play on Saturday and so when their number is called, they perform,” Simmons said.
“On that last kickoff (against Southern) we had about seven true freshmen on the field, running down the field…to try and pin Southern deep inside that side of the field. They pinned them inside the 15.”
Heading into next week, Coach Simmons believes Saturday’s game against the Spartans
will reveal the true identity of his football team and believes the FAMU defensive staff will make the proper adjustments going up against Spartan’s Quarterback Juwan Carter.
“We have to get ready for a physical football game,” Simmons said.
“That’s what jumps out the most, they have some dynamic playmakers as well, obviously their quarterback Juwan Carter, when he gets hot, he can throw it as well as anyone, so we got to make sure we do a good job at pressuring him and making him uncomfortable,” Simmons exclaimed.
“We have four games to scout them guys on now, if there is some carry over from last year’s game of concepts that they still use today, I’m sure our defensive staff will look at that and try to exploit it. But it’s a new year and a new system,” Simmons said.
With FAMU currently staring at a four-way tie between Bethune Cookman, South Carolina State, and North Carolina A&T for the best overall record in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), the Rattlers will look to separate themselves from the pack.
The game will take place at William “Dick” Price Stadium, in Norfolk, Va., and will begin at 4:00 pm on ESPN3.