Rattlers prepare to bounce back from loss

After perusing the tape of Florida A&M’s huge 62-0 loss at Virginia Tech, FAMU head coach Billy Joe said earlier in the week that if the Rattlers played the Hokies again it would be a different outcome.

“We made a plethora of mistakes,” said Joe about FAMU’s worst loss in 78 years. “We gave them points. I think we were intimidated quite a bit. And all of that wouldn’t happen a second time.”

Unfortunately, the Rattlers won’t have that second chance, but they do have an opportunity to redeem themselves somewhat Saturday at Bragg Memorial Stadium at 3 p.m. with a sizeable homecoming win against Savannah State.

“You are only as good as your last game,” said FAMU’s leading tackler, junior safety Sammy Doughty. “And we lost ours, so we need to come back strong.”

FAMU (2-5) has won its last nine homecoming games by an average of more than 37 points. That includes a 60-10 win in 2003 against Norfolk State, which senior quarterback Ben Dougherty said helped the Rattlers get on the right track.

“We hope this homecoming will get us on the right footing,” said Dougherty, as the Rattlers followed their 2003 homecoming victory with a double-digit win against undefeated Hampton. “As a team, we really don’t feel like we’ve played our best game yet. And we’re seven games into the season, so we really hope that we can put all three components together.”

Savannah State (1-4) didn’t win a game in 2003 and have only managed to defeat Norfolk State this season. Four losses by an average of a little over 32 points followed that win.

Therefore, FAMU’s recent success on homecoming should continue.

“We are very serious about our homecoming game,” Joe said. “We will be ready to play an exciting football game.”

Joe has added motivation to make sure his team is ready, so he won’t give the Tigers a gift for the 10-year anniversary of FAMU losing to Morgan State 24-20 on homecoming in 1994, which happened to be his first season as the Rattlers head coach. The Rattlers also suffered a defeat that season to their archrival Bethune-Cookman College.

“Those are two games you just don’t lose, and I did that,” Joe said. “I was always happy and pleased though because whenever the fans and supports here waved at me, I always saw five fingers.”

If the Tigers copy all the Rattlers previous opponents this season, then their leading rusher Myshun McAlpine with 414 yards, should have the ball a lot.

Similarly, if Savannah State plays man-to-man coverage against the Rattlers receivers, then they may too have the ball a lot, allowing FAMU’s passing game, which ranks seventh in Division I-AA, to move up a couple spots.

According to Joe though, the outcome of the game won’t weigh on what the Tigers decide to do.

“I told our players don’t worry about Savannah State,” Joe said. “Savannah State is not really important to our success. The only team that can beat us is us.”

Contact Ibram Rogers at ibramrogers@aol.com.