Let’s not forget that FAMU is playing an unforgiving game
St. Clair Murraine
By now we should all have gotten over FAMU’s loss to Jackson State a week ago at Bragg Stadium.
But football fans don’t take things so lightly, especially when there were a lot of ways that the Rattlers could have won by at least two points. Instead they fell 19-18 to the Tigers.
Hold up a second, though. Let’s not forget how unforgiving this game could be.
We’ve seen this before. Remember the 2014 homecoming game. The only college game for which Corey Fuller was head coach.
Damien Fleming was the quarterback. With under 10 seconds on the clock and FAMU down 12-10, Fleming decided to run a keeper from the Spartans’ 1-yard line.
He got nowhere as time expired.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
It has to because it was the same situation when FAMU had a game-winning opportunity against the Tigers. Quarterback Ryan Stanley decided to call a run play with 12 seconds left in the game.
The gap he saw in the Tigers’ defense closed quickly and all zeroes showed on the clock.
Game over. FAMU lost and the sting was just as devastating as losing on homecoming.
On top of that, the shocker came on a day when former players from FAMU’s 1978 NCAA championship team were there.
Well, those kinds of things happen in a football game. It doesn’t matter that Willie Simmons, an offensive genius, is the new head coach.
“I can’t fault a player for not making the decision that I thought he would have made in that situation,” Simmons said, admitting to poor clock management.
“I should have killed the ball and let the quarterback spike it,”
Like Fuller, Simmons is catching a lot of heat.
Seems like we are forgetting something here and maybe that’s the problem. Just a few months ago, there was all this excitement about Simmons’ ability to turnaround the program.
So what happened? Oh, maybe we are just in a forgetful frame of mind. FAMU’s football program has been in tatters since that 2014 season when Earl Holmes was fired a day before homecoming and Fuller became interim.
Where this is going is simple. Simmons deserves an opportunity to get a handle on the talent he inherited. Bet he will do the same things as he did when he turned around failing programs and made them champions.
The guy is that good.
We saw flashes of that in the three games already, even when the Rattlers were humbled by Troy University a week before. This one wasn’t perfect by any means.
FAMU was flagged 15 times for 177 yards. At least three of those took away potential scoring opportunities.
That wasn’t lost on Simmons.
“Right now we are not playing great fundamental football,” Simmons said. “We’ve got (to) do a better job of stressing it.”
Sure, there is enough blame to go around. Quarterback Ryan Stanley took his share.
He could have talked about setting a personal best with his 26 of 37 connect rate for 340 yards.
He simply decided not to wallow in the loss.
“It’s tough but if I go in there moping around, crying with my head down those guys will do the same thing,” he said. “I just have to keep my spirits high and have the guys follow me.”
Bad as the day was, Simmons was hopeful even though the goal of going undefeated at home is no longer possible.
“I think we have a chance to be a championship caliber football team,” he said, “if we clean some things up.”
Sad thing, though, that might be lost on fans that have tendencies to forget.