Road trip ends in Atlanta

Despite injuries and a defeat to start the season, the Florida A&M Rattlers (2-1) are hitting their stride as they head into the final game of a four-game road trip to open the season.

The Rattlers are coming off one of their best all-around performances of the season.

A potent rushing attack and a defense that only allowed seven points supplemented an effective Martin Ukpai Saturday against the Howard University Bison.

Head coach Joe Taylor emphasized dominance in all three phases of the game during the Hampton game. The production from all three phases of his team was an aspect Taylor said he wanted to make sure his team carried over to Atlanta for the Atlanta Classic.

“If you hope to be in contention down the stretch it’s important that you start off your season with some solid victories,” he said.

“If you see two out of three of the units play well, you’re normally going to win. When you see three out of three play well, you get what we got last Saturday.”

Taylor said despite the Tennessee State Tiger’s 1-2 record, the team is going to be a challenge that must be overcome.

“The two losses were very close,” he said. “They are a very good football team.”

Defensively, Taylor praised the Tigers’ line. While they are not the FBS monsters, Florida A&M was first pit against during the Miami game, the Tigers’ line is effective, recording nine sacks so far this season.

“They line up with a four-man front,” Taylor said. “Very impressed with their personnel. They have good leverage, they have good girth and they move well. And they’re pretty seasoned with a lot of juniors and seniors.”

The Atlanta Classic has traditionally been a close matchup between the Tigers and the Rattlers, the game typically coming down to whichever team makes a mistake in the fourth quarter.

“We always say stay in your gap,” said defensive tackle Padric Scott. “Play your gap. Stay fundamentally sound. We stay in our gaps and do our assignments then nothing can go wrong.”

The Atlanta Classic is Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on Versus and is the last game before the Rattlers finally return home for a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game against rival South Carolina State.