Brand new ballgame: Carter era begins at DSU

New DSU football coach Kenny knows there will be bumps along the way, but he isn’t here for a lengthy rebuild. With so much parity in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, he wants to compete for championships as soon as possible. (Delaware State News file photo)

New DSU football coach Kenny Carter knows there will be bumps along the way, but he isn’t here for a lengthy rebuild. With so much parity in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, he wants to compete for championships as soon as possible. (Delaware State News file photo)

DOVER — When Kenny Carter took the Delaware State University football head coaching job, he knew there were plenty of things he needed to fix.

The Hornets went 2-10 last year for several reasons.

One was going to fix itself coming into this year. Esayah Obado is healthy after missing the entire 2014 season with a back injury, so the Hornets were getting their starting quarterback back.

To fix the others, Carter had to change some things schematically, then go out and do some recruiting.

Carter and Hornet fans will have a chance to see how far Carter has come when the Hornets open their season Saturday at Liberty (7 p.m.).

He knows there will be bumps along the way, but Carter isn’t here for a lengthy rebuild. With so much parity in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, he wants to compete for championships as soon as possible.

“We’re going to go into every game to try to win the game,” Carter said. “I don’t know how to do anything else.”

The biggest overhaul Carter has done was on special teams, which cost the Hornets several games last season.

He brought in a new kicker, Wisdom Nzidee, but the biggest addition is long snapper freshman Johnathon Scandrett.

The Hornets didn’t have a player last year whose sole job was to long snap. Rather it was a revolving door, which helped contribute to the fact that the Hornets gave up seven special teams touchdowns.

Having Scandrett, Carter said, has helped the Hornets improve their operations times on punting, which has led to a strong preseason showing by punter junior Jeremiah McGeough.

“He’s having a fantastic preseason,” Carter said. “I don’t want to jinx him but he’s averaging between 48-51 yards a punt. He’s been killing the ball.”

So with the special teams theoretically figured out, it’s up to Obado to display the form that made former coach Kermit Blount name him the starting quarterback before last season.

Obado didn’t appear in any games last year, getting hurt a few days before the season opener. The junior hasn’t played in a real football game since November of 2013.

While there are plenty of concerns about how well the offense can play, one of them is not the health of Obado.

“I’m finally healthy,” he said. “I’m healthy and ready to be the starting quarterback.”

There was expected to be a quarterback battle between Obado and true freshman Kobie Lain, who is highly regarded by Carter, but Obado played well in the spring game, throwing for four touchdowns, which gave him a leg up in the competition.

He hasn’t let up since the spring game either.

“He’s throwing the ball really well,” Carter said. “I’m satisfied with his throws, we just got to catch it for him. He’s on target a majority of the time and he understands where to go with the ball. He doesn’t try to do too much. If we keep progressing him, he’ll be right where he needs to be.”

Another change will be how the Hornets run their offense.

Blount was one of the few coaches left in college football who used a huddle after every play. Carter has been preaching an up-tempo style and versatility for his offensive players.

Defensive-wise, Carter wants the Hornets to be built on speed.

“It’s all about accepting change and making that change take us in the right direction,” said junior defensive lineman Gabe Sherrod. “I really think 2015 is going to be an exciting year for us.”

The Hornets were picked to finish 10th in the 11-team MEAC in the preseason poll, which Carter expected given the team’s record.

Of course, Carter wants to beat those expectations, though he knows at times it will be an uphill climb in his first year.

“Everything is a constant work in progress when you’re transitioning in,” Carter said. “In the spring you have a different sense of urgency than you have now in the fall. There are things they haven’t dealt with yet that we’re going to have growing pains with. But we’re on track.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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