After meeting the FAMU offense Tuesday, let's see what the Rattlers like to run on defense.
Florida A&M runs a modified 3-4 with a rover back that has no set position on each play that sets it more like a 3-3-5. This isn't the West Virginia 3-3-5 stack that we will see later this year, but the pressure FAMU brings will provide valuable game experience for December with the multiple blitz packages each team runs.
If you've heard any of our offensive coaches talk this week, the first thing out of their mouth is the hyper-aggressive style FAMU plays with. The Rattlers send a ton of players almost every play at every angle, and they want to pressure you into mistakes. Our offensive line and running backs will have to do a good job protecting B.J. Daniels and Bobby Eveld so they have the time necessary to find the open receiver. If they can, there will be opportunities for big plays for our wideouts.
Like Notre Dame, Florida A&M has some size with their 3-man front. At NT, Nicholas Hollinghead (6'4", 285) does his best to take up as much space to free up the inside linebacker. He really overpowered a young Hampton OL, but i think Chaz Hine will be ready for the challenge this week. At DE, Jerry Willis (6'4", 288 lb) and Brandon Davis (6'4, 310 lb) will be a challenge for our tackles in run blocking situations, but won't pose too much of a threat when the Bulls are set to pass.
FAMU has a decent core of quicker defensive ends, with Mondrell Clarke (6', 265 lb), Ellie Hyppolite (6'4", 275 lb), Richard Russell (6'3", 245 lb), and Joshua Newkirk (6'2", 230 lb) all working into the rotation. FAMU will also run an occasional 4 man front as well to get the smaller ends like Newkirk and Russell on the field without causing too much of a mismatch.
The linebackers start with Rover Back Demarius Folsom (6', 215 lb). He is such a dangerous threat to to any offense just due to the fact that he can pretty much freelance and find the open gap to attack the ball carrier. He had a monster game for the Rattlers against Hampton, totaling 14 tackles last week. Our offensive line will have to account for him on every play and adjust their blocking schemes accordingly.
The other 3 starters are MIKE Alvis Graham (6'2", 230 lb), WILL John Williams (6', 215 lb), and SAM Brandon Hepburn (6'4", 235 lb). You are almost guaranteed to see either Williams or Hepburn (and possibly both) blitz on every play to provide a 4th person to attack the line of scrimmage. While Graham will blitz occasionally, his main assignment is to stay behind and provide a 2nd level of defense in case the runner gets through the chaos at the line of scrimmage.
If you are going to blitz 40-50 times a game, you have to have quality defensive backs so you won't give up the big play. Hampton used mostly 4 and 5 WR sets, so there were times where FAMU was forced to run Cover-1 or Cover-0 defensive packages when they sent a 5 or 6 man blitz.
The defensive backs are led by FS John Ojo (6'3", 205 lb). Skip singled out Ojo in his press conference on Tuesday and for good reason. Ojo does a great job patrolling the backline, providing the last line of defense for the Rattlers. He had a monster game against Fort Wayne State in the opener, grabbing 2 interceptions and 6 tackles in the victory.
The other starters in the back for is strong safety Greg Harvey (5'11", 185 lb) and cornerbacks Devonta Johnson (6', 183 lb) and Jerral Stewart (5'9", 171lb). Johnson and Stewart each did a good job in keeping everything in front them last week, but there were occasional lapses in the coverage that allowed Hampton to gain some big yardage. You'll see a lot of Marvin Ross (5'10", 183 lb) and Anthony Shutt (5'11", 186 lb) tomorrow as the main backups in the secondary with Devan Roberts (6'1", 200 lb) rounding out the rotation.