Offensive success tied to new line


The lack of production from Florida A&M University’s offense against Miami is an issue both redshirt-sophomore quarterback Martin Ukpai and head coach Joe Taylor said will be addressed before Saturday’s game against Delaware State University.


The Rattlers are looking to repeat the success of the offensive clinic they put on against the Hornets last season.  Pulley and the running back corps totaled for 485 yards on offense, the highest total in an opening game since 1984.


Taylor said the success on offense begins with the new line.


“We’ve got to have more protection for our quarterback,” he said after the Miami game Thursday. “Their defensive ends just kept pressure on the outside, coming from the outside the whole night. That’s really the big deal.”


Ukpai was sacked eight times against the Hurricanes. The beating the quarterback took limited his effectiveness both through the air (five for 11, 58 yards) and on the ground (12 rushes for -30 yards).


The running backs did not fare any better. Senior running back Philip Sylvester rushed for 31 yards on 13 carries before the fourth quarter.


“For the last two years we were the leading offense in the conference,” Sylvester said. “We lost a few offensive linemen and we have a new quarterback and we’re just trying to get back to where we were last year.”


The offensive line has one returning starter from last year in senior Christopher Sands.  The other four members are first-year transfers

from various schools.


Testing a brand new line against the No. 13 team in the nation was not ideal for Sands.  He said the line has the chance to “really gel” yet.


“It’s going to be tough with four new starters in there,” Sands said.


“But, you know, we just go out there and compete every day. We’ve got to get better every day.”


Sands and Taylor agreed the Hurricane’s defensive line was the strongest and fastest they were likely to face this season.  The lineman and the coach are looking forward to putting their experience against a Football Bowl Subdivision school to the test against Delaware State.


“(Miami) only helped us,” Sands said.  “We’ll go back and watch film, see our mistakes.  That means we can learn together and that’ll help us even more to gel.”


The Rattlers (0-1) will take on the Hornets (0-1) in Dover, Del., at 6 p.m. Saturday.  This will be the second game in a four-game road trip to open the season. For more information, check