Written by Thomas Scott
#24 Tennessee State vs. Florida A&M
Saturday, September 16th, 6:00 pm
Raymond James Stadium
One week ago, the Tampa Classic was potentially on the verge of being postponed. Hurricane Irma had devastated the state of Florida and left many residents looking for answers. Luckily, officials determined Raymond James Stadium was safe and in game ready condition. In recognition of their hard work, theFAMU Athletics Department will honor all first responders and their families with free tickets to the game.
The Tennessee State Tigers offense expected an instant boost when they landed quarterback, Treon Harris from the University of Florida. Harris showcased tremendous potential in his two seasons against SEC competition. Harris finished his Florida career with 2,685 yards passing, 18 touchdowns, and only 10 interceptions.
Harris did not disappoint in his first game with the Tigers. He led the Tigers to an upset victory over FBS-level Georgia State. Not to mention, the victory came on the road in front of 24,333 Georgia State fans during their first home game in their new stadium. Harris accounted for 236 total yards (145 passing, 91 rushing).
As dynamic as his performance was, Harris may have been outshined by his Tiger defense. They forced the Georgia State offense into four turnovers. The 17-10 victory over Georgia State propelled the Tigers into the #24 spot in the FCS poll.
After a decisive victory over an CBS opponent, some expected an easy victory against Jackson State. It was anything but. Harris struggled completing only 5 of 17 passes for 78 yards and an interception. He will have to return his Week 1 form of the Tigers expect to win the Tampa Classic.
Don’t expect the Rattlers to be intimidated by Treon Harris and company. This is not the FAMU team that got beat 30-14 by Tennessee State in 2015. The Rattlers are showing improvement in all facets of the game in their second season under Coach Alex Wood.
Florida A&M opened this season with a commanding 29-12 victory over Texas Southern. The game wasn’t even as close as the score might indicate. FAMU held Texas Southern scoreless most of the game and had a 29-0 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Quarterback, Ryan Stanley has been impressive so far this season. In his lone start, Stanley threw for 217 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for a touchdown. An ankle injury held Stanley out in the Rattlers 49-7 loss against the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Quarterback Vincent Jeffries stepped up in Stanley’s abencse and played a fairly decent game. Last week, the Tennessee State defense forced their opponent into two red zone interceptions. Both Stanley and Jefferies will have to play smart, turnover-free football for the Rattlers to win the Tampa Classic.
FAMU should be encouraged after watching Jackson State nearly knock of #24 Tennessee State. The Rattlers defense must get pressure on Harris and force the Tigers receivers to beat them. The Tennessee State offense looked shaky last week and had more dropped passes than receptions last week.
The Tampa Classic will be a great measuring stick for both programs. We will learn just how good this ranked Tennesse State team. However, we also will find out exactly how much Coach Wood’s team has improved.