FAMU opens football season Saturday at Miami

The Florida A&M University Rattlers defeated the Miami Hurricanes 37 years ago, and head coach Alex Wood thinks they can do it again this year.

The FAMU football season opener is Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. The Rattlers had one of their worst seasons ever in 2015, losing their last five games to finish 1-10.

FAMU last played the Hurricanes, a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, on Sept. 7, 2014. Miami won 41-7. At least 18 players on the FAMU roster are from Miami or Miami-Dade County.

This will be Wood’s second season.

“Last year was last year. We’re not thinking about last year and we’re not talking about last year. I know our young men are ready to hit somebody who isn’t on their own team,” Wood said. “We’ve had a really good, really upbeat fall camp. We’re ready to surprise some people.”

The FAMU Athletics department is battling an $8 million plus deficit. Playing Miami will provide the department with much-needed funding. Athletics receives $900,000 from Miami, according to athletic director Milton Overton.

Miami is the only member of the ACC that FAMU will play this season.

The Rattlers held a scrimmage game Aug. 27 in preparation for the season. The players had a 90-minute practice session, that focused mainly on situation panning.

“I am pleased with the improvement I’ve seen, but we really have a long way to go until opening day,” Wood said.

The team is anxious to start the new season.

“We’re playing with a chip on our shoulders and we just can’t wait for the opportunity to play and prove that we’ve bought in and are ready to compete,” wide receiver Montavious Williams said. “There’s only one way to truly erase last season, and that’s to go out and prove that all the work we did was for a purpose.”

FAMU hasn’t won against the Hurricanes since 1979. The Rattlers pulled off an upset that year, winning 16-13.