Dougherty Hurt but Still the Man

How important is FAMU quarterback Ben Dougherty to his team?

In the first two games of the season, he accounted for 73 percent of the team’s total yardage. He has also scored five of the FAMU’s six touchdowns so far.

Needless to say, the Rattlers need him healthy.

Especially when his backup is a true freshman.

“Ben is a warrior,” coach Billy Joe said. “He’s a real fine quarterback. And real intelligent. He has become acclimated to the offense.”

Therefore, when FAMU’s warrior had to leave last Saturday’s game against Florida after landing awkwardly on his right shoulder, players, coaches and fans held their collective breaths. However, the news got better the next day. What was originally thought to be a shoulder fracture just turned out to be a sprain. Dougherty was even able to slowly move his shoulder around, something he couldn’t do after the game.

“It was pretty sore,” Dougherty said. “I like to think I can take pain pretty good, but that was pretty painful.”

Dougherty has come a long way since arriving at FAMU as a transfer from Iowa State in 2001. He went from being third string on the depth chart last year to the hopes of a season riding on his injured shoulder.

Not bad for a quarterback who wasn’t even supposed to start this year.

Dougherty won the starting job in the spring over Arkansas State transfer Josh Driscoll. He went into the summer preparing to take the reigns of Joe’s Gulf Coast Offense.

Until Willie Simmons arrived.

Simmons, a former Clemson quarterback and product of nearby Quincy, decided to transfer to FAMU so he could play close to home. Just like that, Dougherty was on the bench again.

A month later, the NCAA declared Simmons, along with several other players, ineligible. Once again, Dougherty was the man. And he has made the most of it.

He has regained most of his arm movement. He threw well in practice Tuesday and is lobbying for Joe to start him Saturday against Tennessee State, even though he says his arm is currently 60 to 65 percent. Joe said he could make a game-time decision on whether to start Dougherty or freshman Charles McCullum.

“If Ben is ready to play, he’ll start,” Joe said. “We don’t want Ben to get in the game and hurt himself or the team.”

If you ask the team, they will take their chances with Dougherty.

“When Ben gets in the game he can take control of the game,” said running back Rashard Pompey. “He’s just on top of his game right now.”