State Colleges

Second-year coach Wood looks to bring FAMU ‘back into the competition’

Florida A&M was slow out of the gates in 2015 in coach Alex Wood’s first season.

The Rattlers were slow to end the season, as well. A 1-10 season was not what he envisioned, but now Wood has a glimpse of where his team needs to improve.

And with Florida A&M on a streak of four consecutive losing seasons — a combined 11-35 record — Wood is eyeing a quick turnaround in his second season.

“People are anxious,” Wood said. “They’re always asking ‘When are you going to get back?’ because they want us in these games. … That’s our job: To get us back into the competition so it’s exciting football for the MEAC and for FAMU football.”

But after last season, it looks like the Rattlers might still be at least another year away from being in the thick of the competition.

FAMU’s 10 losses came by an average of 23 points. It was shut out in two of those 10 losses and saw its defense surrender at least 30 points in six of 11 games.

Wood’s first and, so far, only win at the helm of the program was a 41-13 victory over a Delaware State team that also won only a single game last season.

The media projected FAMU to finish eighth in the 11-team MEAC.

“We’re working to ensure that we’ve got good depth and good, quality players and then developing them while we’re there,” Wood said.

Leading the charge are senior defensive end Curtis Alexander and safety Jacques Bryant, FAMU’s pair of preseason first-team All-MEAC selections.

Alexander was the Rattlers’ top defensive lineman last year, recording 51 tackles and a team-high  8 1/2 tackles for loss. Bryant led FAMU with 75 tackles and also hauled in one of the team’s seven interceptions. He also broke up five other passes.

On offense, leading receiver Montavious Williams (45 catches, 627 yards, one touchdown) returns and should again be a prominent figure in the offense.

But regardless of preseason accolades or previous career success, Wood said no spot in the starting lineup is set.

“Every position is open to whoever wants to step in as a starter,” Wood said. “I am pleased with the improvement I’ve seen, but we still have a long way to go until opening day.”

To Wood, the 1-10 season is behind him. What’s important are the 11 games ahead of him, from the season opener against Miami to the Florida Classic against Bethune-Cookman and each of the games in between.

“It’s a new year,” Wood said. “We’re undefeated. That’s what I’m excited about. It’s a new team and I like these guys’ attitudes. They’re working at it. I like the way they’re coming together as a team and working well together. I’m excited about that aspect.”