After outlasting Norfolk State 30-28, the Florida A&M Rattlers will celebrate their homecoming with a game against conference opponents North Carolina Central University to extend FAMU to their best season start since 2009.
The Florida A&M Rattlers (3-1) will look to continue their three-game winning streak against the Eagles (2-3). The Rattlers are coming off two hard-fought victories against Southern University and the Spartans.
Head Coach Willie Simmons was happy that his team came out with a “big win” against the Spartans as it brings them closer to one of their goals of being Black College National champions.
“I thought it was a really big win for this program. Of course, we have our goals as far as becoming conference champs, black college national champs and to do those things obviously we have to learn to win on the road.”
“To go on the road after the biggest non-homecoming crowd ever to an environment that was nowhere near that, I thought took an early toll on our team. I thought they were a little flat at times. We didn’t have the life the juice that we needed… then we finally settled down defensively. Offensively made some plays, but I think special teams kept us in the game,” said Coach Simmons at his weekly press conference.
The last time these two teams met, FAMU routed the Eagles with a 55-14 score; a game where QB Ryan Stanley threw 254 yards and four touchdowns.
Stanley’s receiver and running back went to work as well. Chad Smith caught seven balls for 135 yards and three touchdowns while Deshawn Smith had 20 totes and 152 yards with an average of 7.6 yards per carry.
The stout Rattler defense held NCCU to just two scores in the whole game. The Eagles will be heading to FAMU this Saturday coming off a 27-17 victory over Morgan State.
Coach Simmons wants to be more versatile on the offensive side of the ball as he’s afraid his team will become too stagnant and predictable by throwing the ball the majority of the time throughout a game.
“I’m more concerned about the fact that we haven’t run the ball as well as I’d like too,” said coach Simmons, “us throwing the ball for large chunks of yardage has kind of made us get a little bit… we’re relying a little bit too much on the pass I believe. This offense is predicated on keeping the ball going forward and playing ahead of the chains.”
Despite being second to last in the conference in the running game, the passing has been keeping the Rattlers in the game. They lead the MEAC in scoring with 28.5 yards per game.
The Rattlers defense will be facing off against Eagles quarterback Davius Richard who threw for a season-low 86 yards against the Bears. Last year’s routing featured three different QB’s come into action against FAMU; allowing all three passers to throw for one touchdown and 171 yards.
Coach Simmons and his staff want to emphasize the running game against North Carolina Central. Simmons understands the challenge that is NCCU’s secondary but feels the emphasis on the Rattlers run, game specifically this week, will showcase the duality of the team.
“The thing that I see on film is that we’re leaving a lot of yards on the field… We’ve emphasized those things the last few days and will continue to emphasize them as we go into the game on Saturday,” said Simmons.
“But I do think we’ll be able to run the ball better this week and not because of [NCCU’s] lack of run defense or whatever the case may be, but more so because of our emphasis to it to know that we’ve shown we can throw the football, we have been able to show we can run the ball consistently.
FAMU will be kicking their homecoming game off at an earlier time than usual this season with a 2 P.M. start time this Saturday at Bragg Memorial Stadium.