Rattlers show strengths in OT spring game win by Orange team

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer

With renovation construction at Bragg Stadium as the backdrop for last Saturday’s spring football game, FAMU fans got their first look at the team since the 2019 season.

The consensus after the Orange team took a 33-27 overtime victory on a scamper into the end zone by quarterback Cameron Sapp was clear – despite some signs of rust, coach Willie Simmons’ team hasn’t fallen off much.

The 500 or so fans who were limited to social distance seating on the west end of the stadium seemingly liked what they saw.

But no one was more pleased than Simmons. He saw strengths on both sides of the ball.

“They say great teams don’t rebuild; they reload,” Simmons said. “We want to feel like we are reloading. If the team can build on the things that we’ve developed over the last three years, we feel it will make for a very, very successful season.”

Receiver Chris Sanders was in the spotlight all afternoon, showing that he intends to make some noise in the unit that saw the return of Chad Hunter.

“They are the RAC Boys,” Simmons said. “They pride themselves on making big plays. The offense is predicated on them making plays. I think the offensive line did a great job of protecting the quarterbacks and the quarterback did a great job in getting the ball out quickly.”

Running back Jaylen McCloud, a transfer from Savannah State, played well enough to make an argument to be in the same conversation with redshirt sophomore Eddie Tillman. He also made his return after sitting out the 2019 season with an injury.

Both scored touchdowns.

“I’m very impressed with the running game,” said Marcus Robinson, a longtime Rattler fan. “Everybody looks like they’re on the same page with the offense. No one is guessing as to where they need to be.”

The defense was perhaps the only major concern for Calvin Sykes, a student who has followed the program for the last four seasons. His main concern was about how the corps would respond to the departure of former defensive coordinator Ralph Street.

The unit is being coached by Ryan Smith and Brandon Sharp.

“Defense changes stats so let’s see what that means,” Sykes said.

But the defense was responsible for three turnovers. Their reward was nine points, Simmons said, three for each takeaway.

The verdict is still out on who will be the replacement at quarterback for Ryan Stanley. In addition to ReSean McKay and Sapp the options are John Holcombe and LeJohn Howard.

Although McKay went into the scrimmage as the one to beat, Simmons seemed to be leaving his options open.

“Somebody has got to fill some pretty big shoes,” Simmons said, “but whoever it is we are confident they’ll lead this football team.”

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