Preview: Week 1- Florida A&M Rattlers vs. Tennessee State Tigers, Big John Merritt Classic

The Road to the Championship Starts this Week for the Rattler Football Team. 

By Marcus Joseph 

Tallahassee, Fla. – The Florida A&M University Rattlers (0-0) are on track to kickoff their season against the Tennessee State University Tigers (0-0) in the 14th annual Big John Merritt Classic at the LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee.

The FAMU Rattlers finished out the season last year with a defeat to Bethune Cookman, 26-16, in the annual Florida Blue Classic at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla. FAMU went on to finish last season (7-4) overall and (5-3) in conference play.

The Rattlers are returning 76 letter winners from last year’s team.

“We have been doing this for a while, and I’m just excited,” said FAMU head coach Joe Taylor, who is entering his 40th college football season. “I’m very excited about this team because not only are they talented with speed and power, but they have a lot of substance and character on this team.”

Both teams will be entering the game looking to start their season off strong with a victory, but a win for the Rattlers would give them five straight wins in Nashville. A win for TSU would give the their second win against FAMU, as they defeated the Rattlers 29-18 in the 2010 Bank of America Atlanta Football Classic.

FAMU head coach Taylor is entering his fifth season as head coach of the Rattlers and is 3-1 in season openers.

“We look pretty good,” said Running Back Eddie Rocker, who is a senior that saw plenty of action in 2012. “The offensive line was a big concern in the spring, I feel like we brought in the right guys that are doing good.”

Eddie Rocker saw action in all 11 of FAMU’s games as he rushed for 524 yards on 104 carries, averaging 5.0 yards per carry, with three TDs.

The Rattlers have faced up against the Tigers 50 times with TSU leading the series 24-26. The Rattlers were able to defeat the Tigers in their very first season opener, 23-15.

“We always rise up to the challenge against good running teams,” said red shirt senior Padric Scott, who started in all 11 of FAMU’s games last season at nose guard. “It’s the first game of the season, anticipation and emotions high, and were ready for this challenge.”

The Rattlers are coming into the season with high expectations for the 2012 football season as they look to win the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Championship and return the NCAA Football Championship playoffs for the first time since 2001.

Kickoff will be 6 p.m. CST., for the contest which will be held at the LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee. FAMU will air the game via the Rattler Sports Network with founder and FAMU Sports Hall of Famer, Keith Miles anchoring the broadcast.

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