The Florida A&M University football team is looking to rebound after last season’s emotional roller coaster ride.
The Rattlers are under new leadership this year with head coach Alex Wood at the helm. His team will be playing with a chip on their shoulders going into this weekend’s opener against the University of South Florida Bulls in Tampa, Florida.
Under previous head coach Earl Holmes the team went 3-9. In his second year as the head coach, Holmes was fired in the middle of the season days before the homecoming game.
Despite the recent struggles with the program over the last five years FAMU supporters are still optimistic about the new direction of the football program. Even with the Rattler’s preseason prediction to finish conference play in 8th place, there are returning players from last year’s team that are equally optimistic about the new season.
One of the biggest concerns for the Rattlers this year will be can redshirt-junior Quarterback Carson Royal turn around an offense that has struggled mightily the past five years. In a recent press conference interview Wood named Royal the starter for this season’s opener this Saturday. Royal will replace four year starter Damien Fleming who recently graduated this summer.
Wood brings in a brand new offensive scheme to FAMU in hopes to significantly increase the Rattler’s points on the scoreboard. This new offensive scheme will be a high octane and quick tempo approach that he brings from his Offensive Coordinator days at the University of Buffalo that averaged nearly 440 yards per game.
"I'm anxious just to watch them play its a fun deal to watch your team play," Wood said. "It’s always exciting this time of the year, high schools have already kicked it off so now we get a chance to do so at the collegiate level.”
Royal is confident that his team will have that same productivity this season.
“The Rattlers will come out with a savage mindset focused on obtaining a W when the game clock hits zero,” Royal said. “All the hard work my brothers and I have put in gives us a fighting advantage as we focus on the little things and let the playmakers on our 2015 Rattler roster make plays."
Senior Linebacker and team captain Akil Blount is sanguine in the Rattler’s success for this season. The pressure will indeed be on Royal and Blount to carry the leadership load since the season begins with a dreadful three straight away game schedule.
“Overall focus going into USF is win, plain and simple,” Blount said. “No point in playing if you don’t believe you are going to win even if everybody else doesn’t think you will.”
Kickoff for this weekend’s season opener is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. The Rattlers will welcome the Big Blue Tigers from Tennessee State University to Tallahassee for their home opener on September 26 at 6 p.m.