With the Florida A&M football team on a roll with a four-game winning streak, they look to carry their momentum in another conference match-up against the South Carolina State Bulldogs. Head coach Willie Simmons held his weekly press conference Tuesday, commenting on his team’s recent play and upcoming game.
Last week’s homecoming game against North Carolina Central was a close battle as FAMU quarterback Ryan Stanley, with the help of slot receiver Xavier Smith marched down the field, scoring the game’s winning touchdown with under a minute left. FAMU won the game 28-21.
Coach Simmons was happy with the outcome of the game, being that it was an important homecoming win.
“The guys made another close game, but again we found a way to pull it out in the end and I’m very excited to be 2-0 in conference play right now,” Simmons said. “It’s a lot of momentum heading into this week’s game against a tough South Carolina State football team that’s 3-1 on the season.”
This will be the 58th meeting between the Rattlers and SC State Bulldogs, where the Rattlers hold the series history 29-25-2. In last years game, FAMU suffered a brutal defeat from the Bulldogs 44-21.
“This will be another road game, which we talked about, and in this league, being able to win on the road is tough,” Simmons expressed. “Great opportunity for this football team and we’re looking forward to this week’s ball game.”
The upcoming contest holds a lot of history, as quarterback Ryan Stanley could become FAMU’s all-time leading passer. South Carolina State’s head coach Oliver “Buddy” Pough, who’s in his 17th season as head coach for the Bulldogs, could make history as well and become the programs winningest head coach.
Simmons spoke a little about facing a coach who’s seeking to make history at the hands of his football program’s defeat.
“There are a lot of other stories that make this game very special and we’re looking forward to going up there this week and making sure that we focus on what we need to do to be on the win side of all the history as opposed to the other side,” Simmons said.
Stanley and Smith’s connection on the field during the last few games have been the catalyst for the Rattler offense and Smith has had 36 catches so far this season, totaling to 458 yards and three touchdowns.
When asked about Smith’s stellar play so far this season, coach Simmons called the slot receiver the best receiver in the conference right now
“He’s a steal for FAMU,” Simmons said. “I’m pretty sure a lot of the programs around the state probably feel like they missed out on one because he’s a very very dynamic football player.”
He then continued to jokingly say, “I think at this point, the only thing stopping Xavier Smith is me and not giving him the ball enough.”
Kickoff for this game is set for 2 P.M. (Eastern) this Saturday at Oliver C. Dawson Bulldog Stadium in Orangeburg, S.C.