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GAME 10 PREVIEW: FAMU Rattlers vs. Howard Bison
By: Florida A&M Sports Information  

THE MATCHUP: Florida A&M (3-6, 2-4 in MEAC) hosts Howard University (5-3, 4-1in MEAC) in the Rattlers’ final home game of the 2017 campaign.

RADIO: WHBX-FM 96.1 JAMZ, is the flagship station for the Rattler Radio Network. The Alex Wood Pregame Show will air 30 minutes prior to kickoff. Joshua Jackson (By-Play), Michael Thomas (Expert Analyst) will describe the action, with Jerome Swaine (Engineer) and Vaughn Wilson (Producer)...

COACHES’ TV SHOW: The Alex Wood Show, a 30-minute recap of the week’s action, hosted by Elton Gumbel, will air statewide in Florida on FOX SPORTS ONE (Thurs. at 4:30 p.m.), and on FOX49 in Tallahassee (Thur.), at 11 p.m.

THE SERIES HISTORY: FAMU leads Howard, 28-9-0 in the all-time series which dates back to the debut in 1933, which the Rattlers won, 9-6 in Jacksonville... FAMU won the last meeting in 2014, 31-28 in Washington, D.C.

THE COACHING MATCHUP:  * FAMU’s Alex Wood (Iowa, 1978) is in his 3rd season at FAMU... He has a 33-47 career record as a head coach at James Madison (23-22), Buffalo (2-2) and FAMU (8-23)…… *Howard’s Mike London (Richmond, 1983) is 5-3 in his first season at Howard... He holds a 56-54 career mark in eight years as a head coach, including a stint at Virginia

BISON TO WATCH: RUSHING Caylin Newton, QB, 116c/540yds, 9 TDs; PASSING: Caylin Newton, QB,

92-187-9, 1,720y, 10TDs;RECEIVING: Kyle Anthony, WR, 25 rec, 504yds, 4TDs; DEFENSE: Devin Rollins,

LB, 55tks (44 solo), 8TFL

RATTLER TO WATCH:RUSHING: Devin Bowers, RB, Jr, 131c/619y, 5 TDs, 68.8ypg; PASSING:Ryan Stanley,

QB, R-So., 147-227-6, 1,737y, 14 TDs; RECEIVING:  Brandon Norwood, WR, Sr., 39c, 384 yds,  3TD;

DEFENSE: Jakaris Wilson, LB, Sr., 77Tks (46solo), 4.0TFL, 2 5Sk.



Rattlers, Bison Reprise Rivalry: Saturday’s Senior Day Showdown in Bragg Stadium between FAMU and the Howard Bison will be a renewal of a long-standing rivalry that dates back to 1933...

    That game was the birth of FAMU’s fabled Orange Blossom Classic at the Myrtle Avenue Baseball Field, which the Rattlers won, 9-6.

    FAMU and Howard staged a rematch in Jacksonville in 1998, which FAMU won, 69-41 in a Wild West Shootout.....The Bison had become a Homecoming spoiler for FAMU, knocking off the Rattlers in 2011 and 2013... FAMU won the last meeting between the two schools in Washington, D.C. in 2014, 31-28.

London, Newton Leading Bison Reboot: The Howard University Bison have been enjoying a dream season of sorts in 2017, thanks to the appearance of new coach Mike London and freshman quarterback Caylin Newton....

  @ London, who led his alma mater Richmond to the NCAA Division I FCS title a few years ago, before becoming head football coach at ACC member the University of Virginia, has led the Howard Bison to a 5-2 start, which includes a 4-1 MEAC mark, stationed just one-half game behind league-leading North Carolina A&T (see Page 16).

  @ London’s freshman quarterback, Caylin Newton, younger brother of Carolina Panthers’ field general Cam Newton, has taken the league by storm, piling up 2,260 yards (1,720 passing, 10 TDs, and 540 yards rushing, and 9 TDs) and accounting for 19 TDs.

    The Bison made history Sept. 2 in the debut of London and Newton, when they knocked of UNLV, 43-40, scoring the biggest upset based on pregame point spread in NCAA history...

     Howard has won three straight and four of their last five games, and are gunning for a three-game finishing flurry which might earn them a share of the MEAC title.

Rattlers End Slide In Baltimore Saturday: The FAMU Football team finally closed out an opponent Saturday, as they won a back-and-forth, 34-31 road decision against Morgan State in Baltimore.... The win ended a recent string of frustration for the Orange and Green, which had endured a number of of tight, missed it by that much losses that show the Rattlers have yet to fully master the art of closing out opponents… In every loss after the Arkansas game, FAMU was within striking distance before opposing teams were able to escape…

FAMU Aiming To Match 2016 MEAC Mark: A year ago, the Rattlers won four of their final seven games to finish tied for fourth in the MEAC standings at 4-4… To match that finish, FAMU would need to sweep their final three games, two against remaining contenders Howard (4-1) and Bethune-Cookman (3-2)… A finishing flurry for the Rattlers is hardly out of the question, given their gut-wrenching bouts against league front runners Hampton, NCCU and North Carolina A&T this year, which proves they can box with the best.

Youth Movement Showing Promise: The 2017 campaign has been a year where some of the young talent head coach Alex Wood and his staff have recruit, has shown flashes of the potential that brought them to the Orange and Green camp in the first place… FAMU had nine (9) players named to the preseason All-MEAC squad in July, with four of them –redshirt sophomores QB Ryan Stanley, and safety Terry Jefferson , plus sophomore OL Obinna Nwankwo, and  junior CB Orlando McKinley…. Add in the fine performances of redshirt freshmen such as RB Ricky Henrilus and Azende Rey, along with WR Chad Hunter, FS Andrew Hines, DE Malique Akbar, plus the impact of true freshmen such as LB Derrick Mayweather and RG Andre Regis, plus redshirt sophomores like WR Marcus Williams and DT David Richardson, it is safe to say a foundation for the future has been laid for Rattler Football.

Return Of The Ground Game: Known for years as a producer of top running backs, from 1950s greats like Willie Galimore and Al Frazier, to 1970s standouts such as Ike Williams and Michael Solomon; 1980s performers including Frank Middleton, Tony Barber and Amir Rasul, to runners of more recent vintage such as Phil Sylvester and Rashard Pompey, the Rattlers may be on the verge of returning the run game to their offensive repertoire …

    The good health of junior Devin Bowers, who had missed parts of the last two years with injuries, has allowed the gutsy St. Petersburg, Florida native to rush for 619 yards and five TDs, becoming the first 500-yard rusher since 2012, ranking him 33rd in FCS in rushing yards…

    Giving chase to Bowers, and giving the Rattler ground game additional power and speed are redshirt freshmen Ricky Henrilus (258 yards on 40 carries) and Azende Rey (151 yards on 29 carries), along with short yardage power ranger Tevin Spells (45 yards on 14 carries, 2 TDs).

Ryan Stanley’s Return To Efficiency: The last two games against Morgan State and Hampton has elevated redshirt sophomore QB Ryan Stanley, in the NCAA statistical charts… So far, the Pembroke Pines performer has tossed 14 TD passes against six (6) interceptions, while he has 1,737 passing yards, bettering his 2016 figure of 1,358…. Stanley has also improved in completion percentage, hitting on 64.8 of his throws….

    His 64.8 percentage is just ahead of the FAMU single season percentage mark set by Ben Dougherty in 2003, when he completed 63.6 percent of his aerials (234 of 368).

    @Stanley through eight games (he missed the Arkansas game with an injury), #13 in FCS in Completion Percentage (64.8%); 27th in Passing Efficency (144.1); 28th in Passing TDs (14); 34th in Passing Yards (1,737); and 38th in Passing Yards Per Game (217.1).

WR Chad Hunter Is An Emerging Threat: An emerging target for Stanley has been redshirt freshman wide out Chad Hunter, who ranks 28th in FCS in Receiving TDs (6), and has 513 receiving yards, a total bolstered by back-to-back 100 yard games against Hampton and Morgan State.

Rattler Defense Still On Watch: The unsung heroes of the 2017 FAMU squad may well be the Defense, which despite averaging 30 minutes or more on the field per game, are acquitting themselves well so far… FAMU moved down two spots on the NCAA FCS statistics charts in Pass Defense, from #9 to #11 (168.4 ypg), while checking in this week at #40 in Total Defense (342.8 ypg)… The Defense has been a major factor in keeping FAMU in games, this season, being especially stingy in the second half of games… The last two games,  the Rattlers held bvoth Morgan State and Hampton to 10 points in the final two quarters… Three weeks prior, FAMU held league-leading North Carolina A&T to just a third quarter field goal… Limited Norfolk State to 14 points in the second half, while checking defending champ NCCU to a late fourth quarter touchdown… Their stirring goal line stand preserved a 20-14 win at Savannah State… They allowed Texas Southern just seven points the season opener, then at FBS Arkansas, hled the Razorbacks to 21 first half points and limited the Arkansas QB Austin Allen, the top passer in the SEC in 2016, to 135 yards passing, while the Hogs managed just 415 total yards against the FAMU GanGreen unit….

Jeffries Among Postgrad Scholarship Semifinalists:  FAMU quarterback Vincent Jeffries is listed among the 181 semifinalists for the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) 2017 William V. Campbell Trophy®, presented by Fidelity Investments®. The award recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation.

    Jeffries was among the 36 semifinalists from NCAA Division I FCS, and the lone nominee from an HBCU.

     The 6-2, 191-pound senior from Garner, North Carolina, has played in several games the past two seasons, getting the start this year against the University of Arkansas, throwing a touchdown pass in the August 31 game against the Razorbacks.

   The NFF will announce 12-14 finalists on Nov. 1, and each of them will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as a member of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class, presented by Fidelity Investments.

   The finalists will travel to New York City for the 60th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 5, where their accomplishments will be highlighted in front of one of the most powerful audiences in all of sports.

    Live during the event, one member of the class will be declared as the winner of the 28th William V. Campbell Trophy® and have his postgraduate scholarship increased to $25,000.



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