O-line consistent in FAMU’s QB competition
By St. Clair Murraine
No matter who was under center while the battle was underway for a starting quarterback to lead the FAMU football team, the task for the Rattlers’ offensive line was pretty straightforward.
“We just have to protect,” said left tackle Timothy Jones. “That’s our job.”
That much was obvious this past Saturday during the Rattlers’ final scrimmage before opening the season Saturday against the University of Miami. It’s expected that Kenny Coleman, who took most of the snaps with the first team, will get the nod as starter.
The line managed to maintain consistency despite having to deal with four different quarterbacks with distinct styles. It didn’t matter whether it was front-runner Coleman, redshirt freshman Ryan Stanley, true freshman Tahj Tolbert or junior college transfer Vincent Jefferies.
“We’re going to protect no matter what,” Jones said. “All of the quarterbacks make good reads (and) make good plays. We just have to protect all the way through; whether they want to run, throw; anything.”
Not that it should matter much for their matchup, but the Hurricanes will not have two of their best defensive players. Defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad and senior linebacker Jermaine Grace have been dismissed from the team over their reported dealings with a local luxury car rental agency.
Earlier this summer, linebacker Juwon Young was suspended indefinitely over the same investigation.
When FAMU goes against the Hurricanes, it will do so with the healthiest offensive front it has had to start a season in at least three years. Last season the Rattlers went through their first three games without guard Keonte Cash.
With the core players being healthy, the linemen have been able to establish a consistency with Cash at the forefront. Many days through camp have been tough, especially for two-a-days because of the summer heat, but they endured.
“Being healthy is key because obviously when you are playing healthy you’ve got your best guys,” said coach Alex Wood. “We are optimistic and looking to those guys to play great football for us.”
One main reason was because of the importance of making sure they do their part to keep each of the four quarterbacks upright, Cash said.
“Sometimes the heat got to you, but when we come out here I go hard and that makes everybody else go harder,” Cash said. “I know I’m expecting more from myself and they have to step it up as well.”
Cash, a senior in his final season, said despite having to adjust to the styles of four different quarterbacks; none presented a challenge for the unit like Damien Fleming, who graduated two seasons ago.
“It’s a lot different from when (Fleming) was here,” he said. “We had to have eyes in the back of our heads because he was running all over the place. Now it’s not like that. It’s very enjoyable.”
During Saturday’s 90-minute controlled scrimmage, the Rattlers focused on situation plays —on-side kick, running out the clock, field goal block.
“We tried to hit all of the situations that could come up in a game; whether good or bad for us so we know how to adjust when adversity happens,” Wood said. “I thought they responded pretty well.”