FAU defensive coordinator Roc Bellantoni wants the Owls to focus on what they do, not what Alabama does. (OwlAccess.com photo)
Cornerback D'Joun Smith says he believes that if FAU played Nebraska again the Owls would win. Now, the Owls' defense has something to prove at Alabama.
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BOCA RATON – FAU cornerback D'Joun Smith offered a unique explanation as to why then No. 22 Nebraska moved the ball so freely in the Cornhuskers 55-7 season-opening victory over the Owls: FAU was over confident.
This happened despite the fact that most prognostication services considered FAU at least a three-touchdown underdog.
“Even though people thought we were the underdog in our mind we weren't the underdog,” said Smith, a preseason All-Conference USA selection.
Smith said he and his teammates thought that if they came out and “punched them in the mouth” Nebraska players would wilt, and FAU's superior talent would take over.
Nebraska, however, punched them back, racking up 784 yards of total offense – the most ever against an FAU team.
Despite those numbers Smith still thinks FAU could take Nebraska, given another shot.
“If we go back to Nebraska again I still think in our hearts, and I think we all think that, we are going in and beating them,” Smith said. “They sure weren't faster than us. We had way more speed than them. They just capitalized on our mistakes.”
Yes, that's a whole corn field of mistakes. The Owls, of course, don't get another shot at Nebraska. Instead, they travel to No. 2 Alabama. And it's still uncertain whether Smith will be able to face the Tide.
Smith left the Nebraska game early after suffering a shoulder injury. He attended FAU's practice on Wednesday but said it will be a coach's decision as to whether he plays against Alabama.
When the Owls arrive in Tuscaloosa, defensive coordinator Roc Bellantoni hopes to see the same players he coaches daily, not the ones who played in those FAU uniforms last Saturday.
“At times we looked like the team we saw all camp,” Bellantoni said. “At times it looked like guys that I did not know.”
Bellantoni wants his Owls to put the Nebraska game out of their minds.
He also isn't dwelling on the offensive challenges the Crimson Tide present.
“It's about our defense,” Bellantoni said. “If we get lined up and we read our keys, and we fit the plays the way we're supposed to fit them, and we are in position to make plays, and we make plays, we'll beat anybody. If we don't we won't beat anybody.”
The Owls' defensive players are a little more humble as they prepare to face Alabama.
However, they are welcoming the chance to try to shut down the Crimson Tide and show they are a much better unit that they appeared to be on Saturday.
“We've got something to prove,” linebacker Andrae Kirk said. “We went out there and played bad against Nebraska, so we definitely have something to prove playing Alabama. They are a great team This is a great opportunity to show our skills, to show our talent.”
Hard Knocks at the Ox: Wednesday's practice report
Making Plays: Wide receiver William Dukes enjoyed a strong day. He made a leaping catch of a Greg Hankerson pass in the corner of the end zone as the horn sounded during the end-of-practice two-minute drill. Earlier in practice he made another leaping catch in the end zone, taking the ball away from a cornerback and prompting coach Charlie Partridge to yell, “ That's what I've been waiting for.” ...Nickelback Sharrod Neasman broke up a pass intended for Lucky Whitehead in the one-on-one red zone drill. ...Wide receiver Bobby Mitchell made a one-handed catch in the back of the end zone during the same one-on-one drill.
Inside the Huddle: QB Quez Johnson (shoulder) once again took part in team drills but didn't step behind center during team drills. His status is still uncertain for Saturday's game. ...Safety Damian Parms once again wore the read non-contact jersey because of an undisclosed injury but did participate in team drills. ...A scout from the New England Partriots attended practice.
What They're Working On: FAU's offensive squad used part of Wednesday's practice to go over fourth-and-one plays. The Owls also got to practice a wet two-minute drill when a shower covered the practice field for the final minutes.
Instant Message: “We need to tackle way better. …We've made that a focus this week at the linebacker position.” - Linebacker Andrae Kirk