The journey begins: Live blog

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I was almost afraid this day would not come.  Summer can be long and dreary, and a lack of football action just makes things depressing.  Lucky for Florida A&M, football season gets a head start this year with a Thursday night opener. 

Not so lucky:  Meeting them at the starting gate is the University of Miami.

The Hurricanes are currently ranked No. 13 in the nation after a respectable season that ended with a Champs Sports Bowl loss to the University of Wisconsin Badgers.  A large reason for their high preseason ranking is the return of Heisman-hopeful quarterback Jacory Harris.  Harris threw for 3,352 yards, 24 touchdowns and 17 interceptions last season.

Two of those interceptions happened during the FAMU-UM matchup.

Senior defensive back Qier Hall said he hopes to rattle the UM star further during this game, hopefully leading to more interceptions.  Curtis Holcomb, who picked Harris off and sacked him last year, said he’s just looking for another shot at the guy.

Sounds like a good plan to me.

Kickoff is in 45 minutes, stay tuned.  


Head Coach Joe Taylor said he does not want anyone to think of his team as “young.” Honestly, that might just be the first word that comes to mind when you think about 24 departing seniors from a 8-3 team.  The Pulley-led Rattlers were a strong team, but they couldn’t get the job done and did not make the postseason for the second time in Taylor’s two years at the helm.  

A mass exodus of talent is enough to make any spectator scared for the upcoming year.

It really is not a question of replacing that talent.  Taylor put plenty of pieces in place and is confident in his team.  It is a question of replacing leadership.  Who does the team turn to in the fourth quarter and say “this guy has our backs. He will not fail.”

This game, if nothing else, will test the leaders on this team.  The Hurricanes are a powerful team and how the Rattlers handle this strong opening punch will set the tone for how they handle this season.

Holcomb, Hall, Martin Ukpai, Philiip Sylvester, Kevin Elliot and Isaac West all have an  opportunity to prove tonight they can help their team weather any storm.

8 minutes till kickoff.


Dealing with Jacory Harris will not be an easy task.  After a 34-yard opening kick return, Harris and the offense put on what could only be described as an aerial clinic. 

Seven plays, 63 yards, all through the air and only 1:40 off the clock.  Leonard Hankerson was also left alone on the 19-yard touchdown pass that sealed the drive.  FAMU’s secondary looked, at best, lost and confused.

7-0 Miami, 13:15 in the quarter after the kickoff.


Martin Ukpai continues to impress.  Third and 10 with nowhere to go and Ukpai runs for his life and 12 yards.  Followed that up with a nice nine yard strike to Lashad Tookes.

It’s not clockwork, but the offense is showing it can move the ball.

If they can move the ball, the Rattlers can score.

7-0 Miami with 9:52 left in the quarter.


Ukpai needs to notice when he’s getting blitzed.  Third and three, every person in an orange jersey is looking right at him and he sat in the pocket until the bitter end.  He already showed he has speed with that 12-yard run, he needs to put it to use more often to get away from Miami’s defense.

7-0 Miami with 9:04 left in the quarter and Miami on the move.


The play was called from the press box.  Hankerson in the slot.  Harris in the shotgun.  Wide open touchdown pass.

Six plays, 64 yards, 1:17 off the clock. 

14-0 Miami with 7:47 left in the first quarter.


Sylvester and Ukpai are going to drag this offense kicking and screaming to the endzone if they have to.  Sylvester’s 13-yard scamper salvaged an otherwise unremarkable drive for the Rattlers. 

Ukpai then delivered a 28 yard strike to Florida transfer, T.J Lawrence, to keep the drive going and push the Rattlers into Miami territory for the first time this quarter.

Both players are fighting for every yard, narrowly escaping the jaws of Miami’s defense. 

14-0 Miami with the Rattlers on the move, 2:56 left in the quarter.


The Rattlers are in the red zone.  Really, that’s news enough on its own.

14-0 Miami, Rattlers on the 19 with 1:10 in the first quarter.


A sack for a loss of 13 yards can put a stop to any drive.

A 50-yard field goal barely missing wide right is just demoralizing. 

14-0 Miami, end of the first quarter with Miami back in possession.


Jacory Harris is not going away any time soon.

His third touchdown pass of the game to running back Damien Berry gave the Hurricanes a 21-0 lead and also moved him to eighth place on UM’s all-time career touchdown list with 39 total touchdown passes.

21-0 Miami with 11:42 left in the half.


Martin Ukpai is taking too long getting rid of the ball.  He can’t get rid of the ball because everyone is covered.  His pocket collapses within seconds because his offensive live is getting overwhelmed.  He can’t scramble away without spending quality time with Miami’s linebackers.

Starting to see the vicious circle here?

Ukpai has been sacked four times so far as a result of this circle and just threw a pick-six to sophomore Ray-Ray Armstrong with his back against his own goal post.

Not a good start for the first-year starter.

28-0 Miami with 9:40 left in the half.


35-0 Miami with 5:22 in the half.

Coach Taylor is going to have trouble pulling positives out of this one.  Yes, the hurricanes are larger, but flat out missing assignments is inexcusable against such a strong opponent.  Leaving receivers alone coming off the line, giant holes where a linebacker should have been, FAMU is not showing they they even want to score.

Ukpai and Sylvester are still battling, but someone else needs to show they want something positive out of this game.


Really Miami? 35-0, you just sacked Ukpai for the sixth time, the Rattlers are about to hobble demoralized into the visitor’s locker room, and you stop the clock to get the ball back?

Halftime, 35-0, stats coming soon.

Passing Yards- FAMU 64, Miami 210

Rushing Yards- FAMU 6, Miami 49

Total Yards- FAMU 70, Miami 259

Turnovers- FAMU 1, Miami 0

Possession time- FAMU 21:52, Miami 8:08

First downs- FAMU 6, Miami 13


Positives:  Ukpai managed to escape a few sacks.  He also threw a few very good-looking passes over the middle.  Sylvester provided an excellent, almost Stephen Jackson-like example of never quitting. 

Negatives:  The Rattlers are playing against Miami.

The second-string is in.  Last year, they punctuated the win by scoring three more touchdowns in the second half.

35-0 with 12:17 left in the third quarter.


It’s pretty hard to stop a team when they average 13.6 yards per play.  Literally every time Miami runs a play they get a first down and some change.

42-0, the second string is proving just as effective against FAMU as the first team.


45-0 Miami.