Orlando bound

Before the fourth annual Florida Classic in 1981, Florida A&M came up with the mantra “B-CC will never seek three.” Bethune-Cookman College had won two-straight games against FAMU in 1979 and 1980 for only the second time.

The tune proved true, as the Rattlers clobbered the Wildcats 29-0.

Consequently, the FAMU community was probably expecting another song to emerge before the Rattlers face-off against the Wildcats Saturday in the Walt Disney World Florida Classic XXV at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando.

Another mantra hasn’t surfaced yet, but the determination of this team to not make history is once again prevalent in each of the players.

What does this game mean to senior receiver Rod Smith?

“Everything,” And he left it at that.

He’s one of the many Rattlers that have never been able to taste the sweet juices that a win against their intrastate rival brings.

Senior offensive lineman Fletcher Williams wants that feeling again that he shared with his teammates in 2001,the last time FAMU (3-6) beat B-CC (5-4).

“I’m ready to play them so bad I can taste it,” he said. “I wake up with cold sweats at night because I want to play B-CC.”

The Rattlers have had three weeks off to prepare for B-CC, which is like an eternity in college football.

But according to senior quarterback Ben Dougherty, the Rattlers have made the most of their time off.

“I’ve never had three weeks to study film on a team,” Dougherty said. “We’ve had a lot of conditioning drills over the last few weeks. I think we were a little tired in the fourth quarter last year against B-CC and I don’t think that’s going to happen again this year. We are very well conditioned.”

The Rattlers want no repeat of last year’s devastating 39-35 loss to B-CC, as the Wildcats won on a huge comeback in the second half.

“It hurts thinking about last year’s game because that’s a game we thought we should have won and really had the ability to win,” Dougherty said. “We jumped out fast and strong and continued to move the ball throughout the entire game, but we eventually shot ourselves in the foot one too many times.”

“Several of us have never beat B-CC,” he added. “Others watched FAMU beat B-CC on the sideline as freshman not playing a whole lot. It’s important to all of us to beat B-CC this year for ourselves, our coaches and the FAMU community.”

In order to beat B-CC, the Rattlers must contain the Wildcats vaunting double slot triple option offense.

The Rattlers have already faced that type of offense when they played Nicholls State Oct. 9, but they were scorched for 313 yards rushing.

“That game was good for us because we didn’t play it right at first, but we’ve seen the film and know what our mistakes were,” said junior safety Sammy Doughty. “Now we are coming back with a different approach.”

The Wildcats’ defense also may take a different approach to stop the Rattlers’ passing offense, which ranks 11th in Division I-AA, averaging 274.7 yards per game.

“They don’t play as much man-to-man as they did last year, so that lets me know that maybe their secondary isn’t as good,” Miller said. “I just see them playing more zone and not stunting as much as they did last year.”

Joe said whatever scheme the Rattlers decide to use and whatever they have to face, they will be ready because they know the importance of this game.

“Our players know that if you win 10 games and lose one and that one is against B-CC, then that’s a bad year,” Joe said. “And conversely if you lose 10 and win one and that win is against B-CC, then that’s not a bad season.”

Contact Ibram Rogers at ibramrogers@aol.com.