Rattlers’ fourth straight loss vexes Wood
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
No matter how the nearly 20,000 fans that showed up at Bragg Stadium looked for hope, FAMU’s football team just couldn’t deliver.
The entire Saturday evening was out of character. First it was the seven turnovers by the Rattlers – two of which the South Carolina State Bulldogs converted for touchdowns. Then, coach Alex Wood described his players as being incapable of doing better than 254 yards of total offense in a 48-14 loss.
But a day after saying, “If I could replace them I would,” Wood found himself making a statement that amounts to an apology of sorts. However, before the statement was released by Wood and athletic director Milton Overton, there was plenty of backlash on social media.
“After a long, disappointing battle against the South Carolina State Bulldogs, uncharacteristic statements were made, fueled by the emotion of the moment, but today we turn the page on yesterday and focus our attention on our next opponent and the daily process of building a top caliber program,” the statement read in part. “We will never quit in our efforts to return to greatness.”
Wood, obviously frustrated that the Rattlers have finished September with a 0-4 record, didn’t even make his usual postgame comments before fielding questions. He made a point of stressing that his players don’t have enough time to practice because of sanctions over the program’s APR that leaves it with 16 hours per week.
Yet, he seemingly was expecting a better effort.
“It’s disappointing,” Wood said, his emotions clearly in full effect. “Obviously we are not very good. That’s stating the obvious. We just have to take what we have and do the best we can.”
SCSU took a 21-7 lead into halftime. The first of three Bulldogs scores in the first half came off an interception of quarterback Kenny Coleman, who also fumbled the ball in the first quarter. SCSU used an 11-play drive to take the lead for good on a 1-yard run by Bishop Ford.
By the time FAMU got on the scoreboard for the final time, Coleman had been replaced by back-up Ryan Stanley. He struggled after coming on early in the fourth quarter, throwing his first of two interceptions after getting three consecutive first downs.
The Rattlers caught the break they’d been looking for when SCSU quarterback Caleb York fumbled at the Bulldogs’ 20.
That was the best field position to start a series for the Rattlers all night. They made good when Tevin Spells plowed into the end zone on a second effort from 1 yard out.
FAMU struggled all around offensively and could only get 111 yards rushing. The defense gave up 414 to the Bulldogs. Coleman and Stanley combined for 143 yards passing.
That was enough for Wood to hedge when asked who will be his starter this weekend against Savannah State. The Tigers are coming off a 16-10 overtime victory over Bethune-Cookman.
One of FAMU’s 10 losses last season was to the Tigers, a first in the history of the series. That is an obvious concern for Wood.
“We’ve got to come up with some magic to try to figure out how we can eliminate some of the mistakes,” Wood said. “Grow up a little bit.”