The Florida A&M Rattlers and the Morgan State Bears will be looking for a small victory in what has been a largely disappointing season so far for both teams. As they take each other on Saturday and with both teams desperate for a win, here are three things to watch for during the game.
Both teams getting a lot of penalties: One major factor in FAMU’s loss to Hampton, was the insane amount of penalties the Rattlers committed. They were flagged a total of 15 times for 142 yards in the game, and even coach Alex Wood acknowledged the issue.
In the post-game press conference, Wood said that “We had 15 penalties for 142 yards. We're the most penalized team in this conference. That goes directly to us as coaches. Not just coaches, but (expletive) players, too. The whole nine yards.”
Including their game against Hampton, the Rattlers have been penalized 85 times for a whopping 704 yards during the season, and the MSU Bears aren’t that far behind. They’ve been penalized 68 times for a total of 647 yards this season, 137 of those yards coming from their last game against Howard University.
With both teams struggling with discipline as far as penalties go, be sure to look for plenty of yellow flags thrown by the referees in this game.
FAMU redshirt freshman having ANOTHER big game: Redshirt freshmen Ricky Henrilus and Chad Hunter both had huge games in the loss to Hampton. Henrilus (running back) ran for 109 yards on 10 carries, and Hunter (wide receiver) caught two touchdown passes for 97 yards. Both of their performances helped will the Rattlers back into the game when they were down 21-3 in the first half.
With those performances under their belt and an MSU team that allows 36 points a game, it’s reasonable to assume that the two will continue to get touches against a team that’s had trouble stopping the ball. It is just as reasonable to assume that they will capitalize on those touches.
FAMU defense bouncing back: Last week’s game against Hampton snapped the Rattler’s streak of forcing at least one turnover in every game they have played this year. It also marked one of the few times this year that the defense failed to perform well in a game.
“(We) made more plays, had more productivity from the offense. Still struggled at times stopping them, defensively,” said Wood. “Special teams wise, I thought we were OK.”
Before the Hampton game, the Rattler defense managed to go four straight games forcing two turnovers or more, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see them return to form against MSU.
The Bears have given the ball away three times in each game this season except for one, and have only managed to score 12 times the whole season. In their game against Howard, despite producing 500 yards of total offense and getting within the 20-yard line six times, the Bears only managed to score twice, the second score coming within the final minute of the game.
Watch for the self-proclaimed “bend, but never break” Rattler defense to provide exciting plays and force many turnovers.
In Conclusion: The Rattlers have no excuses not to win this game. An offense finally clicking and not turning the ball over, a defense that is usually able to perform and take the ball away, and an MSU team that has largely struggled on both sides of the ball is the perfect recipe for a FAMU win.