Freshman makes strong case to be starting QB

Junior Muratovic (center) came on in the fourth quarter, making an impressive appearance.
Photo by FAMU athletics
St. Clair Murraine

Around the second week of fall camp, true freshman Junior Muratovic had folks around the FAMU football practice field taking notice.

He was doing things with ease that not too many freshmen are capable of. He found receivers wherever they were – in the flats or deep in the secondary.

Suddenly, there was a feeling that the Rattlers had found a backup to designated starter RaSean McKay.

The script might flip, though.

Given what he’d been showing and his performance on the big stage of the Orange Blossom Classic, Muratovic might have created reasons to second-guess McKay. 

After coach Willie Simmons called on the freshman to relieve McKay at the start of the fourth quarter against Jackson State, Muratovic just seemed like he’d been in position to lead a college football team before.

He played as if he really wanted to turn the tides and help the Rattlers avert the eventual 7-6 loss. All of a sudden it seemed that Simmons will have to make his toughest decision about his quarterback in four seasons at FAMU.

Simmons wasn’t pointing fingers nor calling out any of his players afterward. That’s not his style.

“That’s on me as the head football coach,” he said after his team dropped its debut in the SWAC to a JSU team that played a spring season. The Rattlers hadn’t played a game in 653 days before last Sunday in Miami.

The Rattlers offense might have been unable to produce the go-ahead points after they went to the break down by the final score. The defense, however, left no question about its preparedness.

That was especially evident when the Rattlers turned away every red zone trip the Tigers made. If there were need to point to how effective the defense was just look at when Jackson State had the gumption to try converting a fourth-and-1 from the Rattlers’ 19.

It ended with a turnover on downs.

JSU had taken the lead after getting some help with a targeting penalty that resulted in Nadarius Fagan being ejected in the first half. Two plays later JSU quarterback Shedeur Sanders’ 1-yard run put them up 7-3. 

FAMU responded with its second of two field goals by Jose Romo-Martinez. This one from 39 yards out after an earlier strike of 21 yards.

Muratovic threw the ball 11 times and completed five of his attempts for 47 yards. McKay completed 18 of 29 for 78 yards.

The Rattlers’ defense put them in position to get the final field goal. It was a solo job by Winsome Frazier, who sacked Sanders to force the fumble then recovered it.

Fort Valley State is next for the Rattlers when they play their first home game of the season at Bragg Stadium on Saturday. The turnaround is quick. Simmons promised to fix what ailed his team on Sunday.

He might not get it all done in time for Saturday, but he said a mouthful Sunday evening.

These are his words: “I think you learn a lot more in defeat than you do in victory a lot of times.” 

For sure, coach.

In particular, he might have a freshman quarterback that could lead his team for the rest of the season.

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