Wood Not Totally Committed to a Two-Quarterback System
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer
From day one, coach Alex Wood insisted that Carson Royal is his starting quarterback for the FAMU football team. That hasn’t changed.
Wood doesn’t intend to do so either, although back-up Kenny Coleman has played in all except two of the Rattlers’ games. He isn’t calling the rotation of Coleman and Royal a two-quarterback system, but that clearly is emerging as the Rattlers (0-6) look for ways to get more production from its offense.
“The advantage is that we have something to go to,” Wood said, explaining why he’s frequently called on Coleman. “There is always that hope that we’ve got something to go to.”
FAMU went into last Saturday’s game against North Carolina Central looking for its first victory of the season. It came close, with Royal working the complete game.
He had a career day, passing for 331 yards, with two touchdowns
In the first game that Royal finished without help from Coleman, he completed 12 of 31 passes for 142 yards in a 36-0 loss at South Carolina State.
Through the first five games, he averaged 119.4 yards per game and was intercepted three times.
Coleman also had thrown three interceptions in the four games that he’s appeared in. Up to that point, he completed 28 of 53 attempts for 306 yards, with an average of 76.5 per game.
As much as Wood has had to call on Coleman, he said it hasn’t been because Royal wasn’t getting it done under center. The pace of the game and other situations often influenced his decision to make a change, Wood said.
He hedged on saying that he will eventually go to one quarterback the rest of the season with five games remaining. However, he said there are specific plays for each quarterback in their playbook.
That much each player knew going into the season, Wood said, and that’s why they each have been getting almost equal time with the first team in practice.
The plan suits Royal fine – even when he has to watch Coleman take over the offense.
“For me, it’s not always about being on the field affecting the play physically, but also I can help the guys on the sidelines get ready mentally and not focus a play that just happened; get them ready for the next play and be level-headed.”
The time that both quarterbacks have been getting with the first team in practice has given the offensive linemen time to understand the tendencies of each quarterback, Wood said.
“You’ve got to consider the supporting cast when they are in the game; if they have the same ones,” he said. “That (changing of personnel to suit the quarterback) probably might be part of the mix. How much; I don’t know. I can’t pinpoint that.
Although this is Royal’s first full season as a starter, he isn’t lacking on experience. He stepped in for former starter Damien Fleming several times during the past two seasons, including two starts in 2013.
Coleman also is no stranger at the starting position, having played two years at Jones County High School in Mississippi and later in junior college.
They have formed a brotherhood of sorts, especially with the Rattlers struggling through the season.
“We are talking and helping each other out,” said Royal, Coleman’s roommate when they are on the road. “It’s never, ‘I’m not going to tell you this because you will have the upper hand.”
“We are always helping each other out and giving each other the right information. It’s about winning football games; not about individual play.”
Asked to rate the performance of the two quarterbacks, Wood’s response was succinct.
“We were hoping for more,” he said, “a little bit different scenarios from what we have.”