Two straight road trips. Two straight losses. The opening weeks of the 2006 Florida A&M University football season have not been easy for the football team.
In week one, Delaware State University defeated FAMU 34-14 in the Ford Detroit Football Classic. Last week, the University of Miami dropped FAMU 51-10 at the Orange Bowl.
With a trip to Washington, D.C. this weekend, FAMU (0-2 overall, 0-1 MEAC) will play in its third straight road game. When the Rattlers line up against the Howard University Bison (0-1 overall, 0-1 MEAC) Saturday afternoon, the Orange and Green would like to see a different result.
“I know the players go out to win each and every week. We really do need one [win] right now as a confidence builder for our team,” said Head Coach Rubin Carter.
Senior wide receiver Roosevelt Kiser said a strong performance against Howard may send a message to the MEAC.
“Teams probably think that we’re not as good as we should be because we lost to Delaware State. But I think we’ve got something to show the league,” said the all-conference performer Kiser. The Fort Lauderdale native leads the team in receptions (14) and receiving yards (116) through two games.
The Rattler offense gained 225 yards against Miami. In the “Real HU” game last week, the Hampton University Pirates amassed 573 yards on the Bison defense.
The FAMU offensive unit will also look to move the chains against the Bison. “If we play the same way that we played against the University of Miami for these next nine games, then there’s no way that we shouldn’t be successful,” said FAMU wide receivers coach and Howard alum Gary “Flea” Harrell.
The Bison played freshman Floyd Haigler, sophomore Martin Decembert and senior William Blanden at quarterback last week. Carter said Howard will probably play at least two of the three quarterbacks this week.
Also, nine different Bison receivers caught passes against the Pirates. In order to contain the Howard attack, FAMU’s defense must be aware of personnel changes.
Junior linebacker Vernon Wilder (18), redshirt sophomore safety Jason Beach (14) and redshirt freshman linebacker Michael McMillan (14) lead the team in tackles.
While the Bison rotate quarterbacks, the Rattlers have found a capable back up signal caller in junior Leon Camel. Against the Hurricanes, Camel accounted for nearly 200 yards of total offense in his first career start.
“It was a pleasant surprise to see him go out and execute the offense effectively,” Carter said of Camel’s play.
Camel, the Belle Glade native relieved redshirt junior Albert Chester II, who was sidelined with a left hand injury.
Chester’s status for the Howard game is uncertain. If Chester, who is from Jacksonville, is healthy, Carter said he would play him.
“We’d like to see Albert back in and under center,” Carter said. “We just had to slow him down and keep him on the sidelines so he could heal.”
Carter and Harrell have come out of the Greene Stadium tunnel before. The second-year head coach worked as the defensive coordinator and strength and conditioning coach at Howard from 1989 to 1993.
Harell, a first-year assistant, was a standout wide receiver and return man for the Bison from 1990 to 1993.
Saturday’s contest kicks off at 1 p.m. Last year, FAMU defeated Howard 33-20 in Tallahassee.