The Rattlers will continue their three game home stand Saturday when Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference opponent Howard comes to town.
After going 3-0 on their longest road trip of the season, the Rattlers returned home last week for a loss against South Carolina State.
Much like S.C. State, Howard is coming off a bye week and looking to break a long losing streak against FAMU. S.C. State had lost seven before Saturday, Howard has lost eight to the Rattlers. Both the Bison and the Bulldogs have new head coaches. The similarities are a little too close for comfort for FAMU head coach Billy Joe.
“This game bears a striking resemblance to last week’s match-up. I’m just hoping the outcome is going to be different,” Joe said.
The Rattlers have historically responded well after losses. FAMU has lost consecutive games only three times in Joe’s eight seasons. The Rattlers are 16-3 following a loss.
“We have to play with more pride,” senior offensive lineman Fletcher Williams said. “We always managed to bounce back in past years. This year should be no different.”
Howard will come into Tallahassee giving up the most points per game (34.8) in the MEAC. The Bison offense is led by senior QB Donald Clark. He has thrown for 604 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Over half of his completions, yards and touchdowns have gone to Tallahassee native WR Kevin Simmonds (27 catches, 350 yards, six TD’s).
Howard’s leading rusher, junior RB Jay Colbert, is only averaging 50 yards per game. But the Bison have had four different backs and five total players rush for at least one touchdown this season. This isn’t good news for FAMU, which gives up 192 rushing yards per game.
“Needless to say, we have to get better at stopping the run,” Rattler CB Marco Williams said. “Every week we think we have it figured out, and then we get to the game and nothing works.”
The Rattlers had more than just issues with the run last week. S.C. State’s 6’4″ WR Terrance Metcalf hauled in three touchdown catches against the Rattlers. Simmonds, who is also 6’4″, stands to give FAMU just as many problems.
“[The Bulldogs] had a great scheme, and Metcalf really killed us. There’s nothing else to say except we have to play a lot better,” Marco Williams said.
The Rattlers also hurt themselves last week with six turnovers in the game, including three fumbles in the first quarter. FAMU lost four of five fumbles in last year’s win at Howard, but the players say having that many turnovers and winning the game is a rare occurrence.
“There is no way you can have six turnovers and still win the game. It just can’t happen,” QB Casey Printers said. Printers will sit Saturday’s game out after re-aggravating his injured ankle.
Other key players who will join Printers on the sidelines are FS Levy Brown, who injured his shoulder in last week’s game, and OT Shedrick Moten. These two will join the Rattler’s growing list of injured stars. Although the team isn’t using the injuries as an excuse, it is playing a factor in the team’s overall performance.
“These are the most injuries I have had to deal with since I started coaching,” Joe said. “But we can’t just sit around. Other players need to step up and make big plays.”