Dover, Del.– Delaware State University first-year head coach Kenny Carter and his staff will get their best look yet at the 2015 Hornets during the team’s annual Red-White scrimmage on Saturday at Alumni Stadium, starting at 1 p.m.
The full contact scrimmage is expected to consist of about 70 offense vs. defense plays .
Carter says the units will compete in various situations, including long-and-short yardage, third down, red zone and two-minute.
The new Hornet head coach is eager to see how far along the team has come since spring camp began.
“The players have absorbed quite a bit in a short period of time,” said Carter, who was announced as the Hornets’ head coach on Jan. 21. “We have installed completely new offensive and defensive systems, while at the same time working to learn the strengths and weaknesses of each player. I can’t complain about the effort we’re seeing from the guys, and the scrimmage will give us a good idea how much progress has been made.”
The Hornets have two healthy quarterbacks on the roster this spring. Esayah Obado (r-jr.) has returned to the field after sitting out the 2014 season due to a lower back injury. He was projected as the starter heading into last season before going down. Obado has taken most of the first-team snaps this spring. He has not seen game action since the 2013 season, when he completed 21-of-40 passes (52.5%) for 168 yards and two interceptions in four games as a redshirt freshman.
Gilbert Rivera (jr.) is the other quarterback competing this spring. Rivera joined the Hornets just in time for the 2014 summer camp. He played in 10 games with five starts last season, completing 95-of-188 passes (50.5%) for 898 yards, six touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Rivera was eighth in the MEAC in passing yards per game (89.8) and 10th in pass efficiency (90.5 rating) last season.
The Hornets return three experienced running backs as they look to improve a rushing attack that was ninth in the MEAC and 114th among 121 FCS schools in 2014.
Jamaal Jackson (sr.) led DSU with 493 yards rushing (4.1 ypc) last season, highlighted by two 100-yard games.
Dae-Hon Cheung (sr.) looks to return to his freshman and sophomore form after injuries limited him to just 61 yards on 21 games in three games last season. Cheung led the Hornets with 361 yards rushing as a sophomore in 2013; and rushed for 410 yards (5.0 ypc) and three touchdowns as a true freshman in 2012.
Nagee Jackson (sr.) is also hoping for a return to the production of his first two seasons with the Hornets. Jackson rushed for a team-high seven touchdowns as a freshman in 2012; and ran for 167 yards and two scores in his sophomore season. He had just 23 carries for 105 yards and zero touchdowns in 2014.
The Hornets’ receiving corps must replace All-MEAC selection Milton Williams III, who led the team with 50 catches for 586 yards and five touchdowns in 2014. Williams finished his DSU career with 126 catches for 1612 yards to rank seventh on the Hornets’ all-time list for receptions and 10th in receiving yards.
The next four pass catchers from last season return for the Hornets, including Malik Golson (r-jr.), who was second on the team with 25 receptions for 275 yards and two touchdowns in 2014. Marquel Knight (so.) was DSU’s No. 3 receiver with 24 catches for 187 yards and a score last season.
The Hornets are expected to return all five starting offensive linemen from last season in 2015, although the unit has been plagued by injuries this spring.
Defensively, the Hornets are rebuilding the front line, while the linebacking corps must replace its top two tacklers from last season. The secondary has a solid mix of veterans and youth.
The D-line must replace two starters, including All-MEAC performer Rodney Gunter, although Gabe Sherrod, Jihad Abdur-Rahim, Tarique Anderson Will Womack and Nick Nelson are experienced players.
Carter’s 2015 newcomers are expected to feature a potential starter or two on the defensive line.
The linebacker positions have had some of the best battles this spring.
Two 2014 newcomers, Dan Zajac and Malik Harris are the top returning tacklers among the backers; while Kareem Leaver, Stewart Carey, Demont Cook and Darius McCray are expected to play bigger roles for the defense this season.
In the secondary, Terrick Colston and Ronald “J.R.” Robinson are All-MEAC candidates. Colston was third on the Hornets with 75 tackles and ranked among the league leaders with four interceptions from his safety position in 2014.
He also scored touchdowns on an interception and blocked punt return last season. Robinson is one of the league’s top corners. He had seven pass break-up, eight deflections and an interception a year ago.
William Burton also returns to the secondary after recording two interceptions, seven break-ups and nine deflections last season.
Jeremiah McGeough has handled all the kicking duties this spring, although help is expected to arrive for summer camp. McGeough was the Hornets’ punter last season.