There’s a lot on the line in this year’s Florida A&M homecoming game. Not only is the Rattler’s pride on the line, which is usual for every homecoming game, but whatever hope is left for the Rattlers making the playoffs also hangs in the air.
For the alumni coming back to celebrate and watch football at their alma mater, it might be a surprise to see the Rattlers go up against such a tough opponent like North Carolina A&T. This is considered to be an exciting match-up for the alumni during homecoming week because such an intense game like this has never taken place during the week of homecoming. For all the fans of FAMU football visiting for Saturday’s homecoming game, there are three things to watch for.
North Carolina A&T’s run game: During last year’s matchup with the Aggies, the Rattlers gave up a total of 313 yards on the ground and five total rushing touchdowns. Even though 145 of those yards came from then-senior Tarik Cohen, NCAT’s running attack is still a threat. Redshirt junior running back Marquell Cartwright has just come off of a red-hot game against Delaware State, rushing for 96 yards and a pair of TD’s.
If Cartwright repeats that performance Saturday, it could mean trouble.
Rattlers turning the ball over: After losing their last game against Norfolk State, Head Football Coach Alex Wood talked about how much turnovers hurt them in that game.
“Turnovers did us in,” said Wood. "We couldn’t overcome that and Norfolk State capitalized on each and every one of them and won the game."
The Rattlers gave the ball away a total of five times that game- three of them resulting in touchdowns for Norfolk.
“Way, way too many turnovers,” said starting FAMU quarterback Ryan Stanley. “And turnovers that went back for touchdowns. Our defense is good enough, even if we did give up a turnover, to hold it down and stop them.”
Stanley’s words are especially true for Saturday, if FAMU can stay out of its own way by not turning the ball over, maybe their defense can lead them to victory.
Matchup of the game: FAMU Defense vs. NC A&T Offense: Saturday’s most exciting moments likely will come from the potent NC A&T offense clashing with a stout FAMU defense.
The Rattler’s defense forced at least one turnover in each game this season. In the last three games they’ve played, the defense has forced two turnovers in each, including a goal line stand to win the game against Savannah State.
On the other side of the ball, the Aggies look almost unstoppable. They’ve averaged almost 42 points a game, and redshirt junior quarterback Lamar Raynard is confident they can continue being productive.
“I have some great talent around me. So, it’s really no pressure on me,” said Raynard after their homecoming game last week. “The guys upfront protect me, and the guys I throw to and hand it off to, are all capable of making big plays. It’s really no pressure.”
It’ll be interesting to see which of these two forces bends to the others will, and it will likely decide which of these two teams come out with the victory.
In Conclusion: With FAMU’s pride and hopes hanging in the balance, this year’s homecoming game has the potential to be a classic, or be a blowout. The Rattler’s have all the tools to upset the NC A&T juggernaut.