FAMU football has daunting schedule ahead

The 2010 football schedule is out and features a season opener against the University of Miami Hurricanes along with a home opener against reigning Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Champions, the South Carolina State Bulldogs.
Although the Rattlers will see their toughest opponent in their first game of the season, head coach Joe Taylor said the biggest game will be the first game at home when the Bulldogs come to town.
“South Carolina State has been the reigning champs,” Taylor said. “I thought the last couple years, they just outplayed us in the interior line.”
The Rattlers fell to South Carolina State in Orangeburg last season, 35-20, and finished second in the MEAC. A conference championship will guarantee a playoff berth.
Florida A&M’s first four games will be away from home beginning with Miami Sept. 2. The Rattlers also have their annual matchup with Tennessee State University in Atlanta Sept. 25 before coming home to face the Bulldogs.
Taylor and his players are looking forward to their second consecutive season facing Miami. The 32-point margin was the team’s worst loss in 2009, but the 16 points scored against the Hurricane defense was a feat that two Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly 1-A) schools, the University of Central Florida and the University of South Florida, failed to accomplish.
A solid performance against Miami will set the tone for the rest of the season.
“It’s a good thing, starting off with Miami. It’s an opportunity for us to use it as a barometer,” Taylor said. “We look forward to those games because the teams that usually end up in the playoffs all play games where they’re in that [FBS].”
Projected starting quarterback Martin Ukpai said that even though they are not expecting to lose, having Miami on the schedule should not have the Rattlers losing sight of their ultimate goal.
“Basically, the whole thing about it is just to stay focused. It’ll mean a lot for FAMU [a win], but for me personally it’ll just be another win and another good game. That’s how I see it,” Ukpai said.
The last time the Rattlers defeated the Hurricanes was in 1979.
Florida A&M will also be seeking revenge on conference foe, Hampton University. The Rattlers were shut out by the Pirates in Virginia last year marking the first time in 11 years that Florida A&M had been held scoreless by a MEAC opponent.
This year, Hampton will travel to Tallahassee as the Rattlers hope to redeem themselves against Coach Taylor’s former team.
Philip Sylvester, the Rattlers’ featured running back, said the new season comes with the same expectations.
“As a team, our first goal is to win the MEAC conference. That’s our main goal. The other stuff falls in behind it.”
The Rattlers will host Morgan State University on Oct. 30 for homecoming and will conclude the 2010 schedule with the Florida Classic game in Orlando Nov. 20 against in-state rival, Bethune-Cookman University.