Trojan defensive backfield has their hands full looking at FAMU air-attack
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 1, 1999
It will either be a defensive back’s dream come true or worst nightmare when the Rattlers of Florida A&M crank up their offensive machine on Richard M. Scrushy field Saturday.
The famed FAMU air attack is well-known in Division I-AA and the sting it left on Troy State, after the Rattlers knocked them out of the playoffs last year 27-17, is fresh on most of the Trojans’ minds.
There’s no secret to the offensive scheme or what to expect. They will line up in the shotgun and run the no-huddle offense most of the game. That’s something that gives lots of defenses fits, but TSU is preparing all week for the FAMU attack and feels there will be no surprises.
"They’re going to be no-huddle shotgun the whole game, it’s just that simple," Blakeney said. "We’ve worked against no-huddle a lot against ourselves. We have methods to cope with it, but the methods involve tremendous attention by the defensive team on the field because you never huddle yourself. We’ll have to be wide awake and everyone has to be looking to get the call and make sure they’ve got the call."
The focus of the defense will be getting pressure on a highly mobile quarterback, but the job of the DB’s will be to cover some of the most talented wide receivers ever to square off against them. That’s something guys like Chris Archie and Antonio Thompson look forward to.
"If you’re a competitive DB and you love the game of football this is one of those games that you pray for," Archie said with a huge grin on his face. "I’m loving it, I’m ready. I would go out and play right now I’m so excited."
"As a secondary you look forward to a game like this," Thompson said. "You can put yourself up against one of the best receiving groups in the nation to see what you can do.
"Last year we faced them and held them below the average that they were getting all year and this year we’re going to try to do the same thing," he continued. "It will be the same routine. They’ll come out in the no-huddle and try to pass the ball all day. We’ve just got to control them."
The guys up front have not only been phenomenal against the run this year, but also in pressuring the quarterbacks and making the big hit just when the Trojans needed it most. Guys like Al Lucas, Anthony Rabb, Tim Betts, Osi Umenyiora and Jimmy McClain have, at times, been a quarterbacks worst nightmare. That gives the guys in the backfield one less thing to worry about.
"With the defensive front that we’ve got we know that the quarterback won’t be able to sit back in the pocket all day and have time to pick out receivers," Thompson said. "It’s going to have to be a quick throw so we have to be ready to break on the ball and make plays in the secondary."
"I give all the credit to our linemen and linebackers because they put pressure on them all day," Archie said. "To have them it’s just confidence about the run, about pressure on the quarterback. You can concentrate on your job and not worry about all that. I know they will handle their business up front, the linebackers will handle their business and I’m pretty sure they’re confident in our secondary handling our job. When you see a big guy coming at you like that you’ve got to make a decision quick. Sometimes it’s been the wrong decision. It’s a real big plus having guys like that up front."
That swings both ways on the defense. Both feed off each other and make the other successful. Lucas, Rabb and the rest of the guys wouldn’t be as successful hunting down a quarterback if his receivers were wide open all the time.
"They give you a great secondary back there," Lucas said of the secondary. "They fly around the ball and give us a chance to get back there on the quarterback. It’s always good to get a coverage sack. Even through blitzes they have to play a lot of man coverage and they’re good enough to handle it. That gives us a chance to get back there to the quarterback."
So the balls are assured to be in flight Saturday, it just comes down to who wants it most and who will be there when it comes down. TSU won’t shut down every passing route thrown at them by the FAMU defense, but you can bet whenever the ball is snapped there will be a defensive back somewhere near the intended receiver and a rather large lineman or linebacker breathing down the quarterback’s neck.