Year two of the Rubin Carter era at Florida A&M will kick off Saturday afternoon.
The Rattlers (0-0, 0-0 MEAC), who play the first of three opening games away from Bragg Memorial Stadium, start the season against conference foe, the Delaware State University Hornets (0-0, 0-0 MEAC), in the fourth annual Ford Detroit Football Classic.
With the graduation of standout running back Rashard Pompey, the offense will look to establish more playmakers.
Senior wide receiver Roosevelt Kiser, whose name has become synonymous with big plays, said junior wide receiver Willie Hayward might answer the challenge.
“If they double team me, he’s going to tear them up,” said Kiser of Hayward’s potential to cause match-up problems.
Junior running back Joe Lawson and redshirt sophomore running back Anthony Edwards will work to take pressure off the shoulders of redshirt junior quarterback Albert Chester II in the Rattlers offense.
Despite Pompey’s exit, Kiser said he doesn’t expect a drop off at the running back position. “It’s not going to be a let down. They’re not replacing Pompey; they’re trying to pick up where he left off.”
Senior left guard Lenard Black likened the pair to another “thunder and lightning” tandem – former USC and current NFL running backs Reggie Bush and LenDale White.
The orange and green must also plug holes on its defensive front. Carter welcomed the progression of the unit’s newcomers.
“The defense has been somewhat of a surprise losing as many seniors as we did,” Carter said. “We lost eight starters on defense and had to replace a lot of positions.”
For the second consecutive year, the Rattlers meet the Hornets in the season opener for both squads. Last year, DSU traveled to Tallahassee and defeated FAMU by a 21-17 margin. Senior kicker Peter Gaertner, who connected on four field goals last year, did much of the damage.
Reigning conference rookie of the year Vashon Winton, a redshirt sophomore quarterback, returns under center for DSU. The FAMU secondary must contain senior wide receiver Shaheer McBride, who joined Kiser on the All-MEAC first team at the end of last season.
The trip to Detroit is the second for FAMU as the Rattlers played the Alabama State Hornets in the inaugural classic at Ford Field. Slated for a 1 p.m. kickoff, ESPNU will broadcast the game at 10 p.m. the same evening.