Coming into the new season, the Florida A&M University football team had a lot of questions to answer.
Fortunately for Rattler fans, head coach Rubin Carter may have all the answers in his second season at the helm.
The team enters the season hoping to improve on its 6-5 record and top the spectacular finish at last year’s Orlando Classic that saw them trump conference rival Bethune-Cookman.
Despite the celebrated win, Carter and his staff did not wait long to prepare for the 2006 season.
“We lost a couple of key people on defense this year,” said Charles Huff, defensive coordinator. “There were a couple of holes we needed to fill from last year, so we have to keep evaluating the talent we have.”
This year’s squad will be without seven players from last year’s starting defense. One huge void to fill is the one left by departed senior Steve St. Felix.
Despite the loss, Huff said he has players capable of stepping into the cleats of the standout defensive tackle. Senior Albert Williams is expected to contribute alongside freshman Cameron Houston and senior Chris Wooten.
On the offensive side, the team welcomes back last year’s Orlando Classic MVP, redshirt junior quarterback Albert Chester II.
“Well, in anything you do, you have to be confident,” Chester said. “And right now, I feel as a team we are really confident going into the season. It looks like everyone understands the offense a lot better. We looked pretty good this summer.” Carter echoed those sentiments after last Saturday’s scrimmage. “We had a similar scrimmage about a year ago, and I think this year’s went a lot smoother. It’s a dress rehearsal for
game situations, and I think they did pretty well.”The offense will be happy to see heralded receiver Roosevelt Kiser back in orange and green. The senior used his sure hands to earn a spot on the All-MEAC first team last season.
Coach Carter entered the summer with specific goals for the team. “One thing we had to do is minimize mistakes like turnovers and penalties,” Carter said. “We also wanted to see some intensity, effectiveness, and efficiency. I started to see that sense of urgency that we have been looking for from our players.”
Chester has had that sense of urgency to go along with his own anxious feelings. “When you start to wake up at three in the morning, thinking about football, you know you are getting into game mode.”
The 2006 squad will also sport a younger look. “Young guys like (running backs) Mykel Benson and Demetric Henry are ready to step up and make big contributions,” Carter said. “Our young guys can compete at a very high level.”
The team will travel to play Delaware State University in the Ford Detroit Football Classic tomorrow. Last season, the Hornets spoiled the opener for the Rattlers.
“Last year we didn’t have a lot of tape on those guys,” Chester said. “But this year, we took a good look at them and now we are prepared.”
The team will also try to test its muscle against perennial college powerhouse, the University of Miami, in the second game of the season.
“Well at this point, we are focused solely on beating Delaware. We have to think about things one game at a time,” Carter said.