Joe: Rattlers must make comeback

“It’s time to come out swinging.”Head coach Billy Joe said that about his team’s approach to Saturday’s game against North Carolina A&T, the final game of the home stand.This may be the most appropriate way for the Rattlers (4-3, 2-2) to approach the game. The Rattlers have lost two straight games, both to Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference opponents.Although the Rattlers are not mathematically out of the conference title picture, the likelihood of a three-peat is meek.”We can’t afford to get down on ourselves,” backup quarterback Reggie Hayes said. “We just have to come out fighting this week and for the rest of the season.”Quarterback Casey Printers is expected to start against the Aggies (3-3, 1-1). Printers admits he still feels pain in the ankle he injured a month ago. He went 8-for-16, throwing for 155 yards, no touchdowns and an interception in his last comeback attempt against South Carolina State.”The ankle is probably not going to be 100 percent until after the season,” Printers said. “I have to just suck it up and play.”The Aggies have had FAMU’s number like no other team in the MEAC. They have won six out of the last nine games against the Rattlers and are currently on a three-game winning streak. A&T has provided FAMU with its only conference loss each of the past three seasons.”A&T is going to come in here focused,” Joe said. “Last year we had to play them after they had a disappointing loss to Morgan State and we’re doing the exact same thing this year. A team is usually more focused in the game following a loss.”The Aggies defense gives up 193 rushing yards and just under 400 total yards per game. On offense, A&T only averages 3.7 yards per carry and 330 total yards per game.Several individual Aggies tanding out this season. Junior quarterback Jason Douglas has thrown for 886 yards and 8 touchdowns. Unlike most of the other quarterbacks in the MEAC, Douglas will not gain great yardage running the ball but is still capable of getting out of trouble with his feet. Receiver Jamal Jones leads the team in receptions (19), yards (306) and touchdowns (3). Much like Howard, A&T does not have one particularly strong runner (the Aggies leading rusher, Cornelius Gray only averages 57 yards per game), but collectively the Aggies have a good backfield. “We just have to go out there and control the game like I know we’re capable of doing,” Printers said. “[Rashard] Pompey and Devvin [Richardson] better be ready, because they are going to get the ball a lot.” There are several records on the line for FAMU. The Rattlers have never lost three in a row under Joe. Also, the Rattlers are in jeopardy of having their six-year record of making the postseason snapped. If FAMU wins the rest of its games, it has an outside shot at an at-large playoff spot, but with upcoming games against Troy State and Bethune-Cookman, going undefeated the remainder of the way will be tough.

At a Glance

The Match-up: North Carolina A&T Aggies at Florida A&M Rattlers, Saturday, 4 p.m., Bragg Memorial Stadium, TallahasseeLast Week: NCAT lost to Morgan State 30-13, FAMU lost to Howard 28-24Last Meeting: October 13, 2001, NCAT beat FAMU 55-23 in Greensboro, NCSeries Record: FAMU leads 35-10-2Injury Report: FAMU: out- DE Sean Kelly (knee ACL), RB Kelsie Lordeus (knee); probable- RB Rashard Pompey (shoulder), OT Gueda Morris (ankle), Rickey Funches (ankle), QB Casey Printers (ankle), OT Shedrick Moten (knee), LB Joe Sanders (wrist); NCAT: out- LB Joey Lance (knee), DE Osita Alaribe (knee); probable: CB Curtis Deloatch (knee)