TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Aug.5) – The Florida A&M Rattlers held their first fully live scrimmage of the Fall on this morning at the Rattler Practice fields. The spirited practice was very close to game conditions as a crew of referees were there to officiate the action. The defensive squad, led by Calvin Darville and Elijah Price, dominated the first half of the scrimmage. Defensive back Orlando McKinley ended the first drive with an acrobatic interception for the defense.
As the scrimmage progressed, the offensive squad began to make progress as they settled into a rhythm. Typically on football teams, the defense gels before the offense. Once the offense found it’s rhythm, they orchestrated some scoring drives. The scrimmage ended with quarterback Ryan Stanley rolling out and crossing the pylon for a score.
“I thought the defense possessed way more energy, precision and execution than the offense today. We’ve got some work to do on both sides of the ball. We want perfect defense, but I was encouraged by the physicality, the energy, running to the football, finishing on play, all kinds of things,” said head coach Alex Wood.
Ryan Stanley maintained his status as starter according to Wood. While the first two drives he led the team on weren’t successful, he would rebound and lead solid drives in the second portion of the scrimmage. Vincent Jefferies, who also ran with the first unit, showed that he could move the Rattler offensive squad during his time at the helm.
Tahj Tolbert, probably the strongest arm on the team, showed poise and moved the second string unit. He was at the helm for the first offensive score of the day. Not to be outdone, true freshman DJ Phillips’ athleticism was on display. The Rickards grad led the third string offense on some positive drives, picking up several first down in the process.
Devin Bowers looked solid carrying the football. With a bulked up frame this season, he looks to lead the Rattlers ground game. Ricky Henrilus also had several carries for the orange and green. The offensive run of the day came from Azende Rey. The redshirt freshman took a pitch on the left side, broke into the secondary, and juked a defender in a manner reminiscent of Barry Sanders. The move drew loud roars from the entire Rattler team.
Stanley was optimistic about leading the offensive squad. “We’ve just got to get better with pre-snap. Just make sure we’re in the right place…protections. If things aren’t in the right from before the play then as soon as the ball is snapped, then everything will go downward,” Stanley said.
The linebacking corps looks solid. With Juco transfer Jebrell Hazley in the middle and flanked by a committee of athletic second layer defenders, the defense could be in a position to anchor the team overall.
“We just wanted to come out and perform. Run through our plays at full speed, execute and just things done today. I definitely believe the guys on offense will pick it up and offense is more about timing and precision. I feel like thy’ll pick it up as we go further in camp,” Darville said.
“You can always build on top of your performance. It wasn’t the best performance today, but tempo wise I think the offense is beginning to click a little bit more…the offensive line still getting their calls out. We try and push the tempo a lot in practice but, we also have to let the offensive line make their calls. Pretty much, the offense we were a little shaky at first, but when we get in a groove I think we’ll be fine,” Jefferies said.
“It was our first time actually going in game situation because we had officials here and our players could get a feel for the impact of those things as you play…as opposed to in practice. We would enforce it in practice but it’s different when you’ve got the stripes out doing it,” Wood concluded.