As the new head coach at Florida A&M University, Alex Wood knew going in that he would have a tough job. Inheriting a squad that went 3-9 the past two seasons indicates there is nowhere to go but up.
Halfway into his first game his team had a grand total of one first down against the University of South Florida Bulls. FAMU was down only 16-0 at half, but it went downhill from there with USF rolling to a 51-3 victory at Raymond James Stadium.
The Rattler defense surrendered 556 total yards, but that side of the ball needs less work than the offense. FAMU gained only 182 total yards, nearly all of that in the second half.
Starting quarterback Carson Royal was ineffective, and began to cramp, giving way to Kenny Coleman in the second half. A quarterback controversy could soon be at hand.
Coleman, while throwing two interceptions, motivated a lagging offense that created 10 first downs in the second half and created the Rattlers’ only scoring drive.
“We put Kenny in there and he started doing pretty good so we left him in there,” said Royal. “I think it puts some heat on Carson, of course.”
In fairness to Royal, the offensive line was hampered by injury and a lack of depth. They need healthy bodies, fast.
Third-year USF Coach Willie Taggart has much to be pleased about. His defense played well and despite a bit of sloppy play in the first half, the offense wore down the Rattlers in the second half.
Quarterback Quinton Flowers made some dazzling plays. In the second half, Flowers and star running back Marlon Mack made life quite miserable for the FAMU defense. Five touchdown drives lasted 1:06 or less.
“A good win, not necessarily just because it was 51-3, but it was nice just to see our guys come out and execute,” said Taggart. “We talked a lot about coming out and executing, to play the game we know how to play; it was good to see that.”
Taggart and the Bulls have Sunday to celebrate and Monday to recover before setting their sights on the next game. They will journey to Tallahassee to take on the Florida State Seminoles, 59-16 winners over Texas State on Saturday.
Florida A&M stays on the road, traveling to Birmingham to take on the Samford Bulldogs of the Southern Conference. Samford won their opener over Central Arkansas behind the 372-yard, 4-touchdown performance of quarterback Michael Ewbank.