Column: Is this the new FAMU football team?

Royal A. Shepherd (RoyalShepherdFS on Twitter), Production Director

TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – You know, I can’t remember the last time Florida A&M’s football team drove down the field into their opponents redzone on its first three drives. Then again, I can’t remember the last time the Rattler’s defense suffocated a team into submission by halftime. Or at least I couldn’t remember.

Head coach Alex Woods and the Rattlers did both on Saturday. The team was both efficient on offense and stingy on defense for their noon kickoff against Texas Southern University.  It resulted in a pretty convincing 29-7 victory for FAMU in its first home opener since 2011.

Calvin Sykes | Franchise Sports Tallahassee
Vincent Jefferies carries the ball into the end zone during the third quarter of Florida A&M’s season opener. The Rattlers won 29-7.

FAMU’s opening drive started off promising. Behind a good mix of passing and running plays, the Rattlers marched down the field only to miss a relatively short field goal attempt. Of course, everyone was thinking the same thinking the same thing at this point: “You have to make those count. You never know how many chances they’ll have in the red zone.”

The answer was several.

In fact, the team got into the red zone on each of its first three possessions. Devin Bowers and Ricky Henrilus were extremely impressive in the game. They were able to give FAMU a solid ground game as a change of pace option. It looked like the type of dual-back tandem the team can lean on going forward. Bowers ended the game with 41 yards on 15 carries, while Henrilus had 14 carries for 81 yards. The team ended with 193 total yards on the ground.

The Rattler’s next drive was also a thing of beauty. Back-to-back spectacular runs after the catch by Marcus Williams, the redshirt sophomore out of Miami, set up a nine-yard QB keeper for a touchdown by Ryan Stanley. 

Let’s pause for a second and talk about Mr. Stanley, or as he will now be known, Sunshine.

 

 

 

Stanley was an absolute monster in this game, finishing 19-32 for 214 yards and a touchdown. He also had three rushes for 21 yards and a touchdown. It wasn’t just his numbers that were impressive, it was his general command of every situation presented to him on the field. It led to some interesting notions about a certain end of the year award.

 

His performance was only outshined by his hair, which reminded me of Billy Ray Cyrus a little.

The Rattlers’ hurry-up offense kept Texas Southern off balance every time they went to it. FAMU looked like a well-oiled machine throughout the first two quarters. TSU players, however, were gassed by the end of the half. They were a team that was beaten and knew it. 

FAMU’s defense played a big role in that feeling of helplessness. Although TSU accounted for 202 yards on offense, they struggled for everyone. The Tigers didn’t cross midfield until the fourth quarter with FAMU up four scores. The Rattler defense only allowed 62 rushing yards on 18 carries and 140 passing yards. They also came away with three sacks and an interception on the day.

The Tigers lone touchdown, a 30-yard hookup between quarterback Jay Christophe to Darvin Kirby, came when the game was already out of reach. 

FAMU needed all the momentum they could gather heading into Thursday’s game against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Thursday. This was a surefire way to gain some of that confidence. We’ll just have to see if they can keep it up all season. But for now, job well done Rattlers.

Famu offense and defense strikes early

Calvin Sykes, Florida A&M Reporter (@CSykesSportsU on twitter)

Tallahassee, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – In the first season opener since 2011, Florida A&M faced Texas Southern at noon in the Jake Gaither Classic at Bragg Memorial Stadium on Saturday. The Rattlers defeated the Tigers 29-7 in front of 15,401 fans.

The Rattlers opened their first offensive drive moving the ball downfield easily but came away with no points after a missed field goal.

“We missed on the first opportunity to score,” Head coach Alex Wood said. “We got down and drove the ball on the first drive. I was disappointed that we didn’t get something out of that.”

The first points of the game came off of Florida A&M’s quarterback Ryan Stanley’s legs. Stanley scored on a nine- yard rushing touchdown to give the Rattlers a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.

The quick success of Stanley against Texas Southern sent the twitter world in a frenzy, being touted as a Heisman hopeful and recognized for scoring the first touchdown of the NCAA football season. Stanley was applauded as the first person to score a touchdown in the 2017 college football season as well as his stylish hair.

 


 

FAMU defense forced TSU to punts on the first two drives and held the Tigers in check through the majority of the game. FAMU only allowed 14 yards throughout the first quarter.

Orlando Mckinely attributes the knowledge of the system on defense for the early success.

“We know the system, and we’ve been in the system for three years,” said McKinely. For the most part, we are veterans and we understand what’s going on.

After Stanley’s rushing touchdown, the Rattlers would have no trouble keeping the success of the up-tempo offense going. Stanley said the passing game was made easy because of the success the team was having on the ground. The success, he said, was due to the work of running backs coach, Roderick Plummer.

“Our backs did a real good job. Bowers, Rickey Henrilus and some young guys got in and got some good reps,” Stanley said. “Coach Plumber does a good job with our running backs, and not even just the run game but protection too.”

Calvin Sykes | Franchise Sports Tallahassee
FAMU’s Ricky Henrilus takes a carry in the third quarter.

Vincent Jefferies, a senior transfer, was brought into the game to run the offense late in the second half, but he did not complete any passes. Jefferies missed on all three of his pass attempts.

“We told Vincent and Ryan both that Vincent was going to play,” Head coach Alex Woo said. “It’s his senior year. It is just not because it’s his senior year. We just don’t give reps just because. He’s earned it, he brings value to the game and his explosiveness. He didn’t create a turnover, and that’s important.”

Jeffries would get a chance to lead the Rattlers to a successful drive in the third quarter. One in which he capped it with a rushing touchdown on a broken play.

On the other hand, Sothern had no success on the offensive side of the ball. Jay Christophe could only connect with his receivers 3 times out of 14 attempts.

“Our quarterback had a tough day,” said Southern Head coach Michael Haywood. “Last year, he went the first game of the year, and he struggled coming back, but everything can be corrected from his mistakes.

Starting the second half down 20 points, Southern’s return man went back into the end zone to take a knee resulting in a safety.

TSU’s only score came off a 35-yard TD from Jay Christophe late in the game.

The Rattlers will face the Arkansas Razorbacks on August 31 at 7 p.m. Central Time.