TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Mar.31) – There was a sense of urgency in the voices of FAMU coaches during the opening day of Spring football drills today at the Rattler practice fields. While at most times, football teams merge their way into activity, the Rattlers jumped full head of steam into the beginning of the 2014 football campaign. Head coach Earl Holmes was the leader of the pack, speaking to media briefly before practice.
“3-9 simply is not good enough. We’ve grown as a coaching staff and we understand that we want to do better right now. That means more emphasis on basic skills. Blocking, tackling and catching will be at a premium this Spring, because all positions are open,” Holmes concluded.
On a sunny 77 degree day, the team went through a battery of drills, highlighted by stiff competition in 7-on-7 drills. Carson Royal was leading the way, taking snaps at the No.1 position. He was thrown into the fray last season against rival South Carolina State. Without taking many reps all season, Royal was baptized in the fire as he would start the remainder of the season for the Rattlers.
Damien Fleming, the Rattlers’ star quarterback, was injured in the SCSU game, and was sidelined for the remainder of the season. He was in practice in a protective boot, though he was in some drills throwing without restraint. Fleming will have the boot removed this week and work his way into Spring drills.
“I’m ahead of schedule, and I just want to get back in there and start working to get things right for this year. This is my last season, so I want to begin building our program back to where it needs to be. I really want to flip our record from last season to more like 9-3 and get in the playoffs, “ Fleming said.
Offensive coordinator Quinn Gray and defensive coordinator Levon Kirkland were flying around the field like the season had already started. The entire battery of coaches were in mid-season form, demanding perfection from the Rattlers from the start.
The feeling among the players is one of focus as well. Royal spent much of his offseason with quarterback coaches. “I have to be able to lead this team. I set a goal myself for beign able to help coach Gray guide this team as a leader,” Royal said. “I spent a lot of time in the offseason with our receivers getting our timing down,” he added.