QB 1 spot not yet settled for Rattlers

Quarterback Rasean McKay came on in the second half and turned the FAMU offense around for a victory Saturday at Brag Stadium.
Photo by Don Hayes
St. Clair Murraine

It’s anyone’s guess who will finish the football season at QB 1 on the FAMU team.

Right now Rasean McKay’s veteran skills makes him look like the better man. All of the flourish that freshman Junior Muratovic has been showing might just be flashes of his potential.

At least that’s the impression he left some in the crowd with at Bragg Stadium last Saturday night. 

McKay left little question that he might be the one, after leading the Rattlers to a 34-7 victory over Fort Valley State University.

I mean, his performance was much different from what he showed for three quarters against Jackson State a week earlier.

When it was over, McKay connected 12 times on 16 attempts for 176 yards. Muratovic was 14 of 22 for 127 yards. Each of them threw one touchdown.

Two interceptions that Muratovic threw were the most glaring, though.

“I said it last week. I knew we weren’t going to see the last of Rasean McKay,” said coach Willie Simmons. “He cares as much as anyone and he works as hard as anyone. One game doesn’t define an individual. 

That includes Muratovic.

“We made a decision to start Junior. He had some struggles early and we decided to go back to Rasean to give us a little bit more veteran leadership. He showed that leadership tonight.”

Fort Valley State kept trying until it got too bad when quarterback Tyrell Jackson threw an interception to defensive back BJ Bohler that gave the ball to the Rattlers with a little more than seven minutes left in the game. 

Muratovic got a chance to make up for his deficiencies when Simmons brought him back in for mop up duty with a little more than six minutes left. Could be he was brought back to get some experience, too.

So did third-string quarterback Cameron Sapp, who played the last minute.

But the night surely belonged to McKay.

McKay came out firing and seemed more seasoned as he found receivers in the flats, deep or handing it off to a runner out of the backfield. He didn’t shy away from his style of staying in the pocket, though. 

He completed a key scoring drive by hitting Chad Hunter on a 38-yard pass. Hunter slipped two defenders and stumbled his way into the end zone with 10:45 left in the third quarter. McKay calmly returned to the bench when his work was done. 

Suddenly FAMU seemed to have new life. And, with a 14-7 lead more than halfway through the game.

Fort Valley chewed up 30 yards on its first three ensuing plays to reach the 50. Three plays later, FAMU forced a fumble and returned it by linebacker Nadarius Fagan with 7:21 left in the quarter for a 21-7 lead.

It was the first defensive touchdown for the Rattlers in seven quarters this season. All of a sudden it felt like it should have from the outset.

Simmons took notice.

“I thought the defense for two weeks in a row played phenomenal, creating turnovers and collecting some sacks,” Simmons said. “We still have a lot of work to do offensively. Need to fine-tune the details and play more consistent upfront.”

The evening started out not feeling too right with Muratovic under center. He just seemed like the freshman that he is, despite the promise he’d shown. 

You’re optimistic that he would get better as the season goes on, right coach?

“He is still a young guy. He is going to be a phenomenal football player. We are going to need him this year. We are going to need Rasean this year. All these guys have to be ready to play.”