Wood likes what he sees in Rattlers’ spring scrimmage



FAMU’s football team had an up-tempo scrimmage this past Saturday. Photo by Vaughn Wilson

FAMU’s football team had an up-tempo scrimmage this past Saturday.
Photo by Vaughn Wilson

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer

It was hard to see much distinction between the offense and defense during FAMU’s first spring football scrimmage in two years, but coach Alex Wood wasn’t making any fuss about either unit.
“We thought it was fairly competitive and that’s what we are after,” Wood said, after the Rattlers ran about 70 plays Saturday morning. “We don’t want anybody to dominate. We want it to be pretty close.”

Three quarterbacks — Vincent Jefferies, Ryan Stanley and Tahj Tolbert – all took snaps with the first and second teams

“I thought they all had some highlights today,” Wood said after watching the trio of quarterbacks. “There are some things that we need to work on (but) their line of scrimmage operation is really good right now.

“They know what to do. They know what they’re looking at (and) that’s key for the quarterback because they are operating everything from an offensive perspective.”

Jefferies and Stanley, who is the one to beat for the starting job, combined for 17 points against a defense that recorded three sacks. Defensive lineman Elijah Price didn’t make too much of that, though, because there was no clear-cut dominance by his unit.

“We’ve got some things to fix but we are getting it,” Price said.

Actually FAMU has five more practices to make its fixes in the spring, the first time in two seasons that they actually have a spring workout. The NCAA took away spring practices in 2015 as part of a sanction against the program for low academic progress report.

The Rattlers still don’t have their full allotment of time for spring drills, but they could accomplish plenty, Wood said.

When the Rattlers return for fall practice they will have about four weeks to get ready for their season opener on Aug. 26 at home against Texas Southern. They play Arkansas on Aug. 31, then they get a bye week followed by dates with Tennessee State and Savannah State the two following weekends.
The defense took the biggest hit during the off season, losing seniors Calvin Darville on the line and Jacques Bryant at linebacker. Bryant led the Rattlers in tackles last season with 71 and four interceptions, while Darville’s four sacks were tops for the team.

While Wood isn’t expected to name the replacement starters for Bryant and Darville any time soon, Price said there shouldn’t be a drop off in talent. He was especially confident because of the way they were getting after the quarterbacks.

“That’s what the defensive line coach has been emphasizing because we really didn’t get that many sacks last year,” he said. “We want to build and get after the quarterback as much as we can.”