FAMU held its annual Orange & Green Game Saturday at Bragg Memorial Stadium in front of a crowd of thousands (no official attendance released). FAMU starting quarterback Jeremy Moussa weaved his way to the endzone from three yards out to seal the win for the green team in overtime, playing with the SWAC overtime format. Green would edge out an 11-9 win over the Orange squad.
Head Coach Willie Simmons was all smiles as the talented Rattlers were not only entertaining, but escaped the game with no apparent major injuries.
“All we can ask for is that nobody got hurt,” Simmons said. “It was a very successful day with beautiful weather. This is probably the best day we’ve had all spring. It was great to see fans come out – the Marching “100” here, the cheerleaders were here, our administration was in attendance. So it was a great day.”
The game had all the elements of a FAMU home game with student organizations in attendance along with the DJ of Rapper Plies, DJ Loose Kid. Under balmy clear skies, the Rattlers played 10-minute quarters, with a running clock in the second half.
Simmons craftily dialed back the play calling as not to tip anyone to the new wrinkles he’s added to the offense in preparation for the 2023 season. One thing he could not disguise was the talented transfers added to the program. While there was not an official program detailing which players were wearing which numbers, Simmons did talk about how well the new players had adapted to playing at FAMU.
FAMU has amassed a deep quarterback room
Speaking of quarterback, with the departure of Cameron Sapp, who transferred, Trey Fisher and Junior Muratovic have stepped up with productive springs. Fisher was taken as the first quarterback after Moussa in the Orange & Green draft held earlier this week. Muratovic sat out last season, but has rebounded nicely with strengthening of his passing as well as showing off his escapability.
“I thought the guys came out there and competed,” Simmons said of his quarterbacks. “All of them got to play. Obviously, Jeremy (Moussa) started off with the green team and Trey Fisher got the start with the orange team and they had some good drives. Junior Muratovic came in and put the first touchdown on the board. Trey Fisher has had a great spring and is obviously a coaches’ kid, being the son of Jimbo Fisher. But he showed some great tenacity and instincts. Jacory Jordan and DJ Boney are the athletic guys in the room. They bring a lot to the table as far as being dual threats.”
Quarterback Trey Fisher / Photo by Vaughn Wilson/HBCU Gameday
Run-game improvement on the Rattlers’ radar
The Rattlers have dedicated themselves to improving the run game that has been lacking for the past two seasons. With the return of Terrell Jennings who has had a solid spring and the addition of Nebraska transfer Jaqez Yant, the running back position seems to be its strongest in years. Jennings scored an athletic touchdown followed by a “Griddy” celebration.
“We’re deep,” Simmons said of the running back room. “We had eight guys going through drills this spring and it’s probably the most I’ve ever coached. Terrell Jennings, the one carryover from last year, has had a great offseason. Lelan Wilhoit has moved back to running back. Rattler nation has not had a chance to see him, but he’s a guy that can play receiver and running back so he gives us a lot of versatility.
Quarterback Junior Muratovic/ Photo by Vaughn Wilson/HBCU Gameday
Keep your eye on Jaqez Yant
“Yant made some big runs through holes and showed that even though he is physically stacked for a running back, he has exceptional agility,” Simmons said. The one-two punch of these running backs could be the key to getting Simmons where he wants the Rattlers to be in 2023.
“Rattler Nation got their first glimpse today of Jaqez Yant, so what we’ve been seeing over 14 practices, Rattler Nation got to see today,” Simmons noted. “He’s a big back in every sense of the word with great feet, great balance and great power, catches the ball really well. So he has an overall skill set that we’re excited about.
“Kevin Dean is the shifty back of the crew and he had some runs today. It’s a deep, deep, deep room and it’s going to be a task to get all of those guys touches here this fall. But it’s a great problem to have and we’re excited about what those guys bring to the table.”
Plenty of options for “Dark Cloud” defense
“The ‘Dark Cloud’ defense is as deep as we’ve ever been at every position,” Simmons said. “As far as linebackers, we have some guys that can really, really flat out get it. Everybody knows about Isaiah Major, but Jordan Moore making the transition from safety to linebacker has played at an amazing level. Johnny Chaney is a big-time player and Allen Smith, who is a transfer from Louisville who is versatile as a linebacker and a rusher.
“Then you’ve got guys like Devin Smith and then you have Eric Horne who didn’t play last year because of shoulder surgery that we’ll have back this year. We’ve got six guys in the linebacker room, much like the running backs. It’s going to be really, really tough for coach (Defensive Coordinator Ryan) Smith to figure out how to keep those guys happy getting them enough snaps.”
The squad will be led by Karami Stephenson who is a playmaker from the edge rushing position. Other staples on the defense include lockdown corner Kendall Bohler, who was a focal point of NFL scouts during “Pro Day” as many said he was on the radar as a prospect for this upcoming season. FAMU’s leading tackler Isaiah Major was solid in run-stopping. Additionally, the FAMU coaching staff kept out some players as it was more important for them to fully heal than go through spring drills.
FAMU will head into the summer with a Sept. 3 meeting with Jackson State in the Orange Blossom Classic in Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.