#37 Florida A&M FCS Football 2022 Preview

Florida A&M Rattlers
Overall Rank: #37
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While SWAC champions Jackson State went to the Celebrations Bowl, Florida A&M went to the playoffs for the first time in 20 years. The Rattlers fell 38-14 at Southeastern Louisiana to cap off their second straight season of finishing in the top 25, not counting 2020 when they did not play. Living up to those two seasons will be difficult, but Coach Willie Simmons has done great things in Tallahassee and that will not change in 2022.
2021 Record: 9-3, 7-1
2021 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Willie Simmons (9-3 at Florida A&M, 24-10 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Joseph Henry
Defensive Coordinator: Brandon Sharp and Ryan Smith
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Terrell Jennings, RB, 517 yards
Passing: Raesean McKay, QB, 2,457 yards
Receiving: Xavier Smith, WR, 713 yards
Tackles: BJ Bohler, DB, 52
Sacks: Isaiah Land, LB, 19.0
Interceptions: BJ Bohler, DB, 4
Other Key Returnees: WR Jah’Marae Sheread, WR David Manigo, WR Christopher Sanders II, DB Javon Morgan, LB Nadarius Fagan, S Lovie Jenkins, DL Gentle Hunt, DL Stanley Mentor
Key Losses: RB Bishop Bonnett, WR Chad Hunter, OL Keenan Forbes, OL Jay Jackson-Williams, DB Markquese Bell, LB Derrick Mayweather, S Antwan Collier, DL Savion Williams
The offense will miss Bishop Bonnett, who rushed for 972 yards last season, but Terrell Jennings is more than ready to take over a bulk of the team’s carries. He rushed for 517 yards on 105 carries. The Rattlers will largely rely on their ground game and expect quarterback Raesean McKay to avoid mistakes and make smart decisions. McKay did that very well, throwing for 2,457 yards and 22 touchdowns with a mere five interceptions in 2021. However, McKay can win games on his own too, like when he threw for 383 yards and five scores against Arkansas Pine Bluff in November. If the ground game struggles to replace Bonnett, McKay will be ready to pick up the offensive slack. Having a large group of talented receivers like Xavier Smith, Jah’Marae Sheread, David Manigo and Christopher Sanders II does not hurt either.
The Florida A&M defense was spectacular last season. They ranked in the top ten in the FCS in rushing defense, total defense and scoring defense. They created a ton of turnovers and spent all day in the opponent’s backfield. Isaiah Land tallied 19.0 sacks on his own and he will again team up with Gentle Hunt and Stanley Mentor to provide an amazing pass rush that will give opposing quarterbacks nightmares. The secondary has plenty of big-time playmakers too, most notably BJ Bohler and Javon Morgan, who combined to pick off seven passes.
The Bottom Line:
Just like in 2021, Florida A&M starts the SWAC season off with the biggest game of the year; against Jackson State. Last year that contest was a 7-6 win for the Tigers. That was Florida A&M’s only conference defeat and Jackson State’s closest conference game. This year’s version in Miami should be just as exciting.
Projected Postseason:  None
2021 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 159.2 (41st in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 221.8 (51, 7)
Total Offense: 380.9 (44, 5)
Scoring Offense: 27.8 (47, 3)
Rushing Defense: 94.7 (9, 1)
Pass Defense: 183.6 (17, 3)
Total Defense: 278.2 (10, 2)
Scoring Defense: 17.0 (10, 2)
Turnover Margin: 0.92 (7, 1)
Sacks: 3.50 (4, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.25 (17, 1)