With the Florida A&M Rattlers (7-1,5-0) securing their seventh straight win against the Morgan State Bears (1-7,1-4), the team is once again having an impressive season under head coach Willie Simmons. But with the team already securing more wins than last season’s (6-5) team with three games left to go in the season, the question is how much better is this current team than the one that took the field last season?
First comparing the team’s schedules looking at the way they performed against conference opponents so far, FAMU is currently undefeated against their conference rivals with three conference games left to go. Even though the Rattlers have yet to take a loss they did have many close calls, five of their four conference wins have come by single digits. While in 2018 in three of their five conference wins came by double digits, those wins came against Norfolk State (17-0), North Carolina Central (55-14), and Morgan State (38-3) (Morgan State game did not count due to the Bears NCAA sanctions).
At the same time, the team has beaten those same teams in close scores Norfolk State (30-28) North Carolina Central (28-21), Morgan State (24-12). Even though the team has more conference wins than last season they should still be wary with the number of close wins they have come by.
Looking at the offense, the team is currently second in the conference in scoring averaging 31 points per game, in 2018 the team was fourth in the conference with an average of 29 points per game. Granted that the team is averaging more points they are still unbalanced on offense by being first in passing offense (310, ypg), yet is dead last in rushing offense (87.6, ypg). The lack of success in the running game can be attributed to starting running back Bishop Bonnett being injured for most of the season. By the same token, the team was more balanced last season, finishing third in passing (208, ypg), while finishing seventh in rushing with (159, ypg)
In his first year on the job in 2018, defensive coordinator Ralph Street held a stingy unit with the team holding opponents to 18 points per game, good for second in the conference.
Conversely this season the team is currently sixth allowing a staggering 31 points. Granted the team still has defensive standouts Elijah Richarson and Terry Jefferson that come over from last season, this team is still not as strong defensively as last season’s team thus far.
Trying to separate the roster from last season and this season is trying to separate pins from needles. However if this current Rattlers team truly wants to differentiate themselves with three games left in the season, it is by avoiding the three-game losing streak that befell them last season.