Simmons: Rattlers will bounce back

FAMU loses to Jackson State for the second year in a row. Final score: 59-3. Photo courtesy: The official Florida A&M football twitter

MIAMI GARDENS — The Rattlers are now 0-2 after getting demolished 59-3 Sunday by Jackson State in the Orange Blossom Classic.

This was the second straight year of the classic’s revival, and the Tigers have topped FAMU both times.

FAMU coach Willie Simmons, wide receiver Xavier Smith and linebacker Nadarius Fagan represented the team in the post-game press conference. Simmons started by taking responsibility for his contributions to the loss.

“This is by far my worst coaching job as a head football coach,” Simmons said.

Simmons said the team “just didn’t play good football.” He assured Rattler nation that this scenario would never happen again on his watch.

Simmons said the team will not wallow in misery because it has less than a week to fix the issues that led the Rattlers’ to their loss in South Florida.

FAMU scored its three points on a field goal in the second quarter.  At last year’s Orange Blossom Classic, the team made two field goals in a 7-6 loss to SWAC rival JSU.

This is the second consecutive year that FAMU has not been unable to score a touchdown against the Tigers.

Recently, both teams faced unpredictable challenges at their respective universities leading up to the game. The water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi, has stifled hundreds of students’ abilities to attend in-person classes and access safe, functioning water sources.

Coach Deion Sanders mentioned how the team would return home after the game and spend the night in a hotel due to JSU’s campus being closed.

JSU’s quarterback, Shedeur Sanders, who is also the coach’s son, threw five touchdown passes and is a reckoning force in college football. Sanders won the 2021 Stats Perform Jerry Rice Award, presented to the national freshman player of the year in Division I football.

“Football is an escape for all of us,” Shedeur Sanders said.

The ongoing problems with FAMU athletics fighting for player eligibility, financial aid, and overall transparency from the university administration persisted while the players practiced throughout the week.

Four players out of an initial 26 ineligible players were granted eligibility before the Jackson State game. President Larry Robinson also reinstated the four family game tickets after players expressed dissatisfaction with the tickets being cut down to two.

“You’ll never see FAMU play this type of football ever again, I can promise you that,” said Xavier Smith in the post-game press conference.

Nadarius Fagan went on to say that the team can only take this experience as a motivator and continue to push through.

The Rattlers will take on Albany State in Bragg Memorial Stadium at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Fans may be wondering if the team will have enough time to recover from their loss and take their first victory of the season.