Speeding up the Tempo
By Marcus Joseph
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. (franchisesports.net) – After coming off a 17-14 loss at the hands of Tennessee State in their season opener, the Florida A&M Rattlers will be faced with one of their biggest challenges of the season, the fifth ranked Oklahoma Sooners.
This game all came about earlier this year in result of TCU becoming a member of the Big Xll.
The Rattlers will be faced with an huge obstacle going into one of their biggest games of the season, which is playing without four key players, who were suspend earlier this week for “violating team rules”.
FAMU coach Joe Taylor issued a statement on Tuesday saying he has suspended Lenworth Lennon, Devonte “Terry” Johnson, Dewayne Harvey and Daniel Lennon for the Oklahoma game.
The players were disciplined, and are suppose to rejoin the team Sunday, after the Oklahoma game.
The Sooners defeated UTEP in their season opener last week on the road, 24-7. It was the 12th season opener win for Oklahoma under head coach Bob Stoops.
OU QB Landry Jones went 21-of-36 for 222 yards and two TDs in their week one battle against UTEP. The Sooners were able to gain 205 total rushing yards with RB Damien Williams, who racked up 104 yards and a TD with only nine carries.
The Rattlers opened their 2012 season with a 17-14 loss at Tennessee State. After being down 17-7, going into fourth quarter.
Starting QB Damien Fleming, who was honored by the MEAC this week for his performance against TSU, will be out his leading receivers Travis Harvey and Lenworth Lennon. Fleming was 15-of-30 passes for a total of 119 yards and one touchdown in his season opener.
The Rattlers were led by leading rusher Eddie Rocker, who carried the ball 12 times for 90 yards. Fleming also gained 52 yards on the ground for the Rattlers.
OU is 7-3 all-time against teams from the FCS, 3-0 under coach Stoops. This will be the first meeting between Florida A&M and Oklahoma on the football field.
On offense, the Rattlers look to be a test for Oklahoma’s linebackers against a zone-read style offensive attack, but the o-line will need to win the battle at the line of scrimmage, according to sources. The Rattlers will also need for senior RB Eddie Rocker to break for several big plays to help compete in this battle.
The Sooners’ defense didn’t give up a point last week, but struggled to stop UTEP running back Nathan Jeffery, who rushed for 177 yards.
On defense, the Rattlers will need to be able to improve on both stopping the run and pass. The Tigers produced 401 total yards, 263 of which came through the air. TSU completed 22-of-32 passes for 263 yards.
Senior linebacker Brandon Hepburn, who was a huge factor in last week’s game against TSU, will be someone that the Rattlers will need to produce big stops and plays. He led the way last week with 10 tackles, which included 3.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks and a fumble recovery. The Rattlers overall had four sacks and came up with a pair of turnovers.
The Rattlers defensive coordinator, Earl Holmes, who is in his fifth season, will be looking towards not just LB Brandon Hepburn, but the entire defense to contain the run and passing game.
The Rattlers will be limited in the secondary without starting defensive back Devonte Johnson, who was amongst the players suspended. He also plays a huge role on special teams averaging 12 yards per punt return last week.
The last time the Rattler beat an FBS program was in 1979, a 16-13 win over Miami (Fla.). Since then, every FBS opponent the Rattlers played has scored at least 38 points and won by at least 20.
The Rattlers football team will matchup against Oklahoma on Saturday, September 8 at 7 p.m. in Norman, Okla.