Rattlers plan to rush Bulldogs

The Rattlers look to spoil the homecoming of the 21st ranked (in division I-AA) Bulldogs of South Carolina State University in Saturday’s match-up in Orangeburg, SC. Fresh off of a bye week, the rested Rattlers look to even their win/loss record against the 4-1, second-ranked in the MEAC Bulldogs.

“I feel we’re ready for them. We had a bye week to get ready,” said Rattler offensive threat Rashard Pompey. “We’re ready to play some FAMU football.”

Pompey hopes to put up some big numbers this weekend as he needs a little over 800 yards to become just the third Rattler running back to rush for 3,000 yards in his career.

This weekend’s battle could prove to be a turning point for both teams. The Rattlers, who hope to pull an upset, improve their overall record to .500 and their conference record to 2-1 to rise in the wide open MEAC. The Bulldogs, 2-0 in the MEAC, are currently in a position that leaves no room for error as they attempt to overtake the Pirates of Hampton University, currently 4-0 in the conference. The Bulldogs shared the MEAC title of 2004 with the Pirates and need to stay perfect in the division just to catch up and reclaim their share of the title.

For the Rattlers to succeed Saturday, all eyes are on the ailing offense and the outcome could depend on their ability to advance down the field and put some points on the board. Standing in the way however, before the Bulldogs even come into play, is the situation involving the bruised and battered Rattlers quarterbacks, or lack thereof. Already through four quarterbacks on the season, Saturday’s start, injury-pending, will likely go to redshirt-sophomore out of Thousand Oaks, Calif., who has thus far been the most consistent of the quarterback core.

Even Owens has tasted the familiar fate of the FAMU quarterback this season, as he left the last contest, a 23-6 loss to Florida International University, at around the half suffering a hip pointer. Also, included in the injured Rattlers quarterback depth chart are redshirt senior Josh Driscoll, who has been sidelined since suffering a groin injury against Howard University. FAMU redshirt sophomore Albert Chester, who up until the Florida International competition, had been sidelined since the season opener with a shoulder injury. Chester saw playing time in the fourth quarter of the FIU contest, completing a 77-yard touchdown pass to veteran receiver Roosevelt Kiser in his opening possession, but admitted to his shoulder not being 100-percent. With two weeks of rest and practice coming from the bye-week, only time will tell who is in fact healed up.

The new and improved Rattlers defense will need to employ every tactic they can, to contain the Bulldog offense with littler room for error. Big players this season, which the Bulldogs look to cause damage with are receiver Cleveland McCoy, who has 83 receptions for 693 yards on the season with six touchdowns. In the backfield are running backs DeShawn Baker and Jonathan Woods, who have combined for nearly 800 yards on the season and have nine touchdowns between them.

“We expect another tough football game. Coach Carter and his staff should be commended for what they’ve done in such a short period of time,” said South Carolina State coach Buddy Pough of this weekends opponents. “We expect them to be as tough a foe as we’ve had this year,” continued Pough. “They’ve got playmakers all over the place and defensively can run to the football.”

With much respect given from the opposition, the Rattlers are confident in their abilities and believe that they can come out of this weekend with a victory, which would could prove to be an important conference victory and morale booster against a solid foe. “This is South Carolina State’s Homecoming, so after we beat them they’ll feel stupid,” confident remarks from FAMU senior cornerback Keith Williams. The Rattles will have a tough battle ahead of them, but if successful, this could be a greatly positive lead into our own homecoming week.

Contact Reggie Snowden at famuansports@hotmail.com