It’s gut check time for the Rattlers (0-1) (0-0) as they welcome the Delaware St. Hornets (1-0) (0-0) Saturday to Bragg Memorial Stadium for the first conference game of 2007.
All eyes will be on FAMU as the Rattlers try to avoid another 0-2 start, which is vital in contending for the MEAC conference title. Slow starts have been the downfall for the Rattlers,
Despite a disappointing opening loss to the Southern Jaguars in the MEAC-SWAC challenge, a game plagued by penalties and costly turnovers, FAMU has the visiting Hornets in its sights ready to rebound from last week’s letdown.
Delaware St. is coming off a 23-18 win over the Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina and has owned the Rattlers in recent years as FAMU looks to knock off the Hornets for the first time since 2003 when former Rattler receiver Cardan Alexander scored a last second touchdown pass from Ben Dougherty as time expired.
Even with last week’s lost, FAMU had success offensively, getting unexpected contribution from freshmen tailback Phillip Sylvester and red shirt sophomore wide receiver Javares Knight.
Sylvester, who earned MEAC rookie of the week, gained 101 yards rushing and scored two touchdowns in his first college game but knows he can improve.
“I need to hold on to the ball,” Sylvester said. “The fumble from the Southern game has been haunting me.”
Knight scored his first collegiate touchdown finishing with three catches for 80 yards. If Knight can continue to be a factor he and Willie Hayward can be deep threats for the Rattler offense.
Who starts at quarterback against the Hornets remains to be seen as head coach Rubin Carter will make a game time decision on who will be under center.
“Albert Chester is day-to-day with a shoulder injury, we will take all precautions to make sure he is fully healed,” Carter said. “Leon Camel performed admirably last Saturday therefore my decision on a starter will be Saturday afternoon prior to the game. Whether both quarterbacks play will depend strictly on performance. Who gets to play depends on the flow, tempo, and execution and how we move the football,” Carter said.
Eliminating the self-inflicted mistakes will be a key in getting past Delaware St. Saturday.
“Mistakes are mental and physical which have to be minimized to be successful. We must improve defensive team tackling,” Carter said.
Stopping the run will prove vital as the Hornets come to Tallahassee with a strong ground attack. Stopping the run was a problem last season and continues to be a problem for the Rattlers so far. Senior linebacker Dannel Shepard is looking forward to playing in front of the home crowd and taking away the that the Hornets cockiness .
“They feel they have our card so we must prove them wrong,” Shepard said. “We have to be confident and give a 100 percent effort each play.”
Whether the Rattlers are hungry enough to be the powerhouse of the MEAC like they once were remains to be seen. FAMU will have the backing of the students, alumni, and the band. Pride will definenately be on the line Saturday.