By: Fletcher Keel | WCTV Eyewitness Sports
August 29, 2019
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Florida A&M is set to kick off their 2019 campaign, the second under the tutelage of Willie Simmons, in Orlando against #17 UCF at Spectrum Stadium.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. and the game can be see on CBS Sports Network.
FAMU enters their first game of 2019 on a three-game losing skid, having dropped matchups against Howard (31-23), South Carolina State (44-21) and Bethune-Cookman (33-19) to close the 2018 campaign, missing out on a trip to the Celebration Bowl in the process.
Despite the Rattlers' poor luck to end the season, FAMU returns not only quarterback Ryan Stanley to run the offense, but his most potent weapons as well in running back Deshawn Smith and wide receivers Xavier Smith, Chad Hunter and Marcus Williams.
Smith totaled 676 yards on 96 rushes a season ago for four touchdowns, while the trio of Smith, Hunter and Williams combined for 68.1% of the passing attack in 2018, and combined for 14 of the Rattlers 17 passing touchdowns, all of which came out of the arm of Stanley.
UCF comes into Thursday's affair with a freshly-snapped 25-game losing streak after dropping this past New Year's Day Fiesta Bowl, 40-32, to LSU.
But, don't expect much rust from the Knights, even with a new signal caller (or two) under center following an injury to Darriel Mack, who took over for the injured McKenzie Milton throughout the end of last year.
Last week, UCF head coach Josh Heupel named Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush the starting quarterback, but the Rattlers will see two QB's from the Knights, as Heupel said true-freshman Dillon Gabriel will also see first-half snaps.
Just as FAMU returns a bulk of their skill position production, as do the Knights.
Leading rushers Greg McCrae (1,182 yards on 133 rushes and 10 touchdowns) and Adrian Killins (747 yards on 147 rushes, four touchdowns) are back in the back field, as are receivers Gabriel Davis (815 yards on 53 receptions, seven touchdowns) and Tre Nixon (562 receiving yards on 40 catches) to help ease Wimbush and Heupel into the UCF system.