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Posts from April 2009

Joseph goes out with a bang

Before Florida Atlantic linebacker Frantz Joseph begins his NFL career with the Oakland Raiders, there was the matter of one more thing to do as an Owl on Wednesday.

Jospeh was in attendance at FAU's Senior Recognition Banquet (Click here for a photo gallery of the banquet) held at the Boca Raton Bridge Hotel and took home the Male Outstanding Athlete of the Year award probably the last major award he will receive as an FAU football player.

Women's golfer Praewnapa Phol-Uayporn won the Female Outstanding Athlete of the Year award for the second consecutive year, and will be turning pro herself - she joins the Futures Tour next month.

Joseph, who will be shipping off to Oakland to take part in the Raiders' rookie mini-camp later this week, has been working out at FAU's weight room since he signed on Sunday as a free agent to get prepared to play at the next level.

"Basically, I've just been doing what I've been doing and trying to get back in a football state of mind," Joseph said.

Joseph said he talked with the Raiders' coaching staff earlier this week and their advice was to report in shape and ready to work and he'll learn more about the schemes when he gets out there.

"All that combine-stuff is out the window. It's time to get back to football,." Joseph said. "They just said to be prepared, be in shape and get ready to show your football skills."

The banquet was nice send-off for seniors with each coach in attendance presenting the seniors off their team with a nice watch and some other academic awards were given throughout the evening.

The athletic department, especially Associate AD Melissa Dawson, worked hard to make the night a success and it was a nice send-off to the graduates who have given so much of their time to the Owls.

Click here for a list of other athletic department awards presented Wednesday.
- Marcus Nelson
Sincere's UNGL career over before it starts

FAU football's class of 2009 are not the only former Owls spending these weeks looking to further their football careers.

Former FAU linebacker Cerge Sincere expected to play his first professional game this weekend with the Ohio Bulldogs of the United National Gridiron League. The UNGL's inaugural season season never saw a kickoff, though.

Originally slated to begin shortly after the Super Bowl, the UNGL had already postponed its opening kickoff once before this week.

Sincere, third on FAU's all-time tackle list with 272, left for Bulldogs' training camp only find that the money and housing he was promised weren't there. Sincere left Ohio, heading for Pittsburgh, where he spent the last week with his former Glades Central High School teammate and current Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes.

"They were going to pay us for the whole time that we were there," Sincere said.

It was in Pittsburgh on Monday that Sincere learned the UNGL will not be playing this season. While he was bummed to hear the news, the league's issues may not be a bad thing for Sincere.

Sincere was already looking for other options - most prominently in the Canadian Football League - but couldn't begin negotiations because he was under contract with the new league.

"These people held me back," Sincere said. "This is crazy."

Minutes after learning he was out of a summer job, Sincere was on the phone to his agent looking for work. Now that Sincere is free of his contract, he hopes to follow former teammate Lawrence "Flash" Gordon to the CFL. will keep you updated on Sincere's progress.
Joseph gets his chance

After Florida Atlantic linebacker Frantz Joseph cooled down following a work-out at FAU's Pro Day a few weeks ago he told a group of reporters that getting drafted wasn't the ultimate goal - getting into a NFL camp was.

"If I can get in someone's camp, I'll show them who's the boss," Joseph said.

Joseph may have just been planning his strategy after an average to above-average showing at Pro Day, but Joseph is an honest guy and he re-iterated his belief when I talked to him Sunday night after he agreed to sign with the Raiders as a free agent.

Joseph doesn't claim to be the fastest guy or that he is a specialist at the three-cone drill. But after watching him for three years, I agree with Joseph when he says he is a football player.

"I don't think I can't be measured in 40-yard dashes and shuttle runs," Joseph said. "I'm more of a guy that wants to put on the gear and let's go. Just put a running back in front of me."

Sunday, it had to be frustrating for Joseph, but it looks like he will indeed get a shot at showing the Oakland coaching staff that he can play and making the team - and that's all he really wanted.

FAU will have to wait until it has its first player drafted - although next year would seem like a lock with QB Rusty Smith and TE Jason Harmon graduating - but the wait for the Owls to have their first player make an NFL squad may come sooner than that.
Will Joseph be drafted?

I always get a good chuckle when I read that fans think a player may not get taken in the NFL draft because his school doesn't play on TV often or doesn't receive a lot of media coverage.

The media only wishes it had that much power. In reality if a player can play, rest assured the NFL scouts will find them if it's a low profile Division I-A team, a I-AA team, Division II, Division III or even high school.

The point is Frantz Joseph won't be hurt because he played at FAU and didn't play on TV often. Scouts scour the nation and go out of their way to find players who might be considered below the radar.

That said, Joseph has gotten plenty of attention - including an ESPN piece to air on Sunday - since he was named the Defensive MVP of the Texas vs. Nation game.

That can only help, but whether Joseph becomes the first player from FAU drafted - and I'm guessing he will - will only have to do with what kind of professional player the scouts think he can be.
Yelling wasn't the answer
It was Florida Atlantic's low point. The Owls had just lost to Troy 11-5 on April 14. By sweeping the series, the Trojans had handed Florida Atlantic its fifth consecutive loss, dropping the Owls to 6-11 in the Sun Belt.

Not only did the Owls lose the series, they didn't play well. Coach John McCormack had run out of things to say to his club. The players were waiting for McCormack to explode. He didn't.

"After the game I think they expected me to yell and scream, but I just said, 'It's over with. It's over with. We are starting a new season from this day," McCormack recalls. "At one point I just kind of chuckled and said, 'It is what it is. We can't change it. We put ourselves in this mess.'"

McCormack told his club to forget about the weekend, that there was nothing they could do about it. The team showered and went back to the hotel.

A little while later a couple of players made a point to talk with McCormack.

"Some of the older guys, when we were at dinner, said that was the best thing that could happen to us," McCormack said. "Everybody was sitting there waiting for an absolute verbal drubbing or some sort of physical punishment."

The players didn't need need to run laps. Though they lost to Miami in their next game, the Owls put themselves in the position to win the game late. FAU then won its next six games and enters the weekend series at Western Kentucky looking to continue the turnaround.

The low morale the Owls experienced following the Troy series was barely a memory on Wednesday. FAU players and coaches were upbeat as they went through their drills. It's amazing what a little winning can do.

"Now, the thing is, will this all translate tomorow morning when we get on the plane?" McCormack said Wednesday. "And will it appear against at Western Kentucky on Friday night."

Ozga hurting: First baseman Travis Ozga (photo) didn't start in the Owls win over Bethune-Cookman on Tuesday because of a sore elbow. Ozga had his left elbow scoped in the fall to remove bone chips. Swinging the bat caused some pain in that elbow

FAU played seven games in an eight-day period and McCormack decided to rest Ozga to be safe. On Wednesday Ozga said he could have played against the Wildcats and would be good to go against Western Kentucky. Still, this situation bears watching. FAU needs Ozga to play well if the Owls are going to qualify for the Sun Belt Tournament.

Check-in: Be sure to check with throughout the weekend for tidbits from the Western Kentucky series as well NFL draft updates.
FAU, Bethune applying different approaches
Florida Atlantic's game at Bethune-Cookman will feature an interesting pitching match-up - something that can't often be said for mid-week college baseball games. Both coaches have chosen to throw their No. 1 starters, albeit for very different reasons.

Even though FAU starter Mike Gipson's stats for the season (2-3, 6.33 ERA) don't scream "ace," he has been the Owls' Friday starter. Gispon struggled with consistanc early in the season and missed his last start with a sore arm.

FAU coach John McCormack believes Gipson (photo) is ready to go - and by that he means ready to return to the weekend rotation. So why is he starting on Tuesday? Well, it's a start in name only. McCormack is going to have Gipson treat this game like a midweek bullpen session, meaning that he will go through his regular pre-game warm-up procedure but pitch only the first inning.

After that he will be pulled for a reliever - likely Hugh Adams. If Gipson shows no ill effects from the start, he will pitch again on Saturday at Western Kentucky.

Where FAU is treating this game like a rehab session that will prepare the Owls to get back into conference play, Bethune considers the game to be almost more important than conference play. The Wildcats are 11-1 in the MEAC and don't really have much competition for the conference title.

One Bethune official told me that the mid-week games are actually more important as far as garnering respect for the program. That's why, in a close game in the first meeting between the two teams, the Wildcats were willing to bring frontline starter Hiram Burgos (4-3, 4.55) out of the pen to try to beat FAU.

Now that the Wildcats feel they have a good shot at beating FAU, they are going for it by starting Burgos. will offer live updates and a complete wrap-up of the game.

Weekend rotation: With McCormack planning to use Gipson again on Saturday, that likely leaves Adam Morrison as the Friday starter at Western Kentucky. Morrison drew his first Friday start of the season a couple days ago, allowing five earned runs in 7 1/3 innings to earn the win over Bryant. McCormack hoped to have Barry Rooks back from injury this weekend, but it seems more likely that Brent Adheen will make Sunday's start.
Owl tube: No matter who pitches on Saturday, fans in South Florida will have the opportunity to watch. CSS (Comcast cable channel 32) will carry the 4 p.m. game.
Spring game a smashing success
Last week Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger said the spring game would be a success if it was a 21-21 tie because that would mean there were just enough plays made on offense and defense and neither side would be embarrassed.

The score of the spring game wasn't right on the money, but Schnellenberger was pleased because the spring game was as close as a draw can be with the score 35-25 in favor of the offense. When it was the Owls first team offense vs. their first team defense it was closer than the score indicated.

The Owls' offense and defense each made positive strides this spring and looked good in the spring game.

We'll dive into further analysis soon, but right now I am prepared to give out some game balls for the entire spring practice.

  • Alfred Morris, RB
    After the first week of practice Morris was moved from fullback to tailback to replace the injured Jeff Blanchard and by the end of the spring is looking like he could be a force at his new position. Most of the spring was running with authority and was difficult to bring down.

  • Kevin Cyrille, DE
    Cyrille honed his skills on the scout team last season while sitting out after he transferred from Western Michigan. Cyrille was a best on the defensive line and excels at physical pass rushing – something that the Owls haven’t had in some time.

  • Dino Cox, DT
    Cox passed Jarvis Givens in the first week of spring practice and hasn’t looked back. He has seen plenty of action in the last few years and looks likes he wants his role to increase.
  • Baseball team put FAU on the map in 1999

    It wasn't the most impressive pitch Todd Moser ever threw and I've seen Dickie Hart put a little more on a throw, but when they and a few more of their teammates threw out the first pitches for Friday's FAU vs. Bryant baseball game, their tosses looked pretty good to me.

    Several members, along with coach Kevin Cooney, of the FAU team that tied an NCAA record by winning 34 games in a row were on hand on the 10th anniversary to the day that FAU tied the 1977 Texas team by winning its 34th consecutive game.

    It really doesn't seem like that long ago, but so much has changed at FAU in some ways that seems like the Stone Age. We've been spoiled by the success of FAU's baseball program and its other sports, too, but in the spring of 1999 the team that called itself the Blue Wave created a national buzz by refusing to lose for two months.

    FAU won its first six games of the season until losing a 3-2 game at Miami on Feb. 17 and didn't lose again until April 17, the day after the Blue Wave defeated Jacksonville University 13-8 in the first game of a three-game series at JU - and a game that I covered for The Boca Raton News. After matching the record, the Blue Wave dropped the next one before reeling off six more victories as its record stood at an unbelievable 46-2 en route to finishing 54-9, still the best record in school history.

    I remember looking at the front of the sports section of USA Today as the streak was growing and seeing an article about FAU's baseball team. Remember this is two years before the Owls' football team took the field and many aspects of the athletic program were not even close to Division I standards. A decade later, winning that many games in a row is just as big - if not bigger - accomplishment.

    The team was honored in low-key fashion Friday, but more should have been done to recognize the squad's accomplishments that garnered national attention.

    But the members of the that once-in-a-lifetime team probably don't care about that. They began that special year under the radar, but a few weeks later that wasn't the case as they were the first to show FAU can compete in sports on the national level.
    Hiring of Thomas not good news for Sun Belt
    The arrival of Isiah Thomas as the next basketball coach at Florida International has not been good news for the rest of the Sun Belt Conference.

    No, it's not that the rest of the coaches are likely losing sleep about Thomas' chances at success - in fact they likey will be slumbering nicely knowing a coach with no experience coaching at the college level will be learning on the job at the Division I level.

    Instead, the reason Thomas' arrival has been detrimental to the rest of the Sun Belt Conference is the entire conference has been ridiculed by much of the South Florida and national media.

    The last few days I have listened to plenty of Miami sports talk radio and there have been plenty of laughs that Thomas will be travelling to places like Jonesboro, Ark. and Monroe, La. and how different that will be to Thomas who is used to travelling to NBA cities.

    It is irksome when columnists who wouldn't know the way to FIU if you gave them a map use the lack of name schools in the SBC in trying to explain the depths to which Thomas' career has fallen. Hey, this is OUR conference they are talking about - and by the way, they are pretty much on target, but is the Sun Belt that bad? OK, don't answer that question.

    Sorry, but I don't buy that any publicity is good publicity. Not when your new coach is on ESPN and being grilled about a suicide attempt, not when your provost welcomes "Isiah Thompson" and not when nearly every column being written is portraying your university as desperate to escape irrelevancy.

    I hope FAU officials were watching, listening and monitoring closely how a school that hired Thomas to "win the press conference" as FAU often puts it, actually lost one.

    Of course, that won't matter if Thomas is a success at FIU and puts more people in the seats. In the spirit of fairness, he and FIU AD Pete Garcia deserve the chance to try and do that before they are raked over the coals. But after Wednesday's performance by FIU, many have already applied the lighter fluid and are waiting for Thomas to fail and embarrass Garcia for his blind faith in a coach brought in with plenty of baggage.

    If that happens the blistering FIU has taken in the media the last few days will look like love notes from two teeangers compared to the scalding Garcia and the entire university will receive for taking a chance on Thomas.
    FAU signee Davis chosen to represent USA
    Before Florida Atlantic football signee Jamal Davis has the opportunity to don an Owls' uniform he will play for his country.

    Davis, a 6-foot-3 wide receiver from Coral Springs Charter, is one of 36 players under the age of 19 selected to play for USA Football's Junior National Team, which will compete in the 2009 International Federation of American Football's Junior World Championships held this summer in Canton, Ohio.

    Davis, who has been a regular observer at FAU's spring scrimmages, caught 62 passes for more than 700 yards and seven touchdowns during his senior season. That's a photo of him with his family on signing day.

    "FAU is a very young program and Jamal's selection by USA Football is another validation towards the type of players that are in our program," FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger said in a release issues by the university. "We are happy for him to be a part of such a prestigious tournament and the first of its kind in football. FAU football players want to be the first to accomplish something and with this experience, Jamal will fit right in." congratulates Davis on his selection. We will be following his progress when the tournament begins.

    A complete roster, including the coaching staff, and more information of USA Football's Junior National Team is available at their web site: More info about the tournament is available at

    VanCamp to see more time in 09
    FAU backup quarterback Jeff VanCamp has taken plenty of snaps in the spring scrimmages and can expect more playing time during the regular season, according to Owls coach Howard Schnellenberger.

    A week after throwing two touchdown passes in the first scrimmage of the spring, Van Camp, who will be a redshirt junior, was 6-of-13 for 77 yards in the second scrimmage Saturday.

    VanCamp has shown enough progress that Schnellenberger said he may insert VanCamp into games for a series in the second or third quarter to prepare him for when he will be called upon to win a game for the Owls.

    "He's ready to take some second quarter snaps and hopefully we can get in some games where he can take some fourth quarter snaps so if something happens to Rusty we won't be dead in the water." Schnellenberger said.

    VanCamp was 2-of-5 for 19 yards in 2007 and was 8-of-20 for 55 yards and an interception in 2008.

    VanCamp needs to be ready, because his time could come sooner rather than late if Rusty Smith were to be hurt.

    Schnellenberger has been impressed with VanCamp's performance this spring,

    "He's ready to play," Schnellenberger said, "I attribute that to the three years he's been here and the training he's had for that period of time. It's finally come together and the game has slowed down for him. Now he can see it, process it and make the decision to get the ball out of there or hand it off."
    FAU heads to Troy while trying to forget about Miami
    In talking with FAU baseball coach John McCormack earlier this week, it was obvious the emphasis he is placing on this weekend's series at Troy.

    "It's going to be a huge series because we are right at the make or break point of the conference," McCormack said. "If we play really good this weekend, we have a real shot going through. If we don't, we still have a shot but it will really move us back a little bit."

    A full preview of the series is up on the main site.

    That conversation took place on Wednesday, a day after the Owls dropped a one-run game at Miami. That loss was still smarting the following afternoon.

    "I thought we should have won the game," McCormack said. "We made some mistakes that cost us. I thought we played very well. I told them I enjoyed watching them play. We just have to buckle down on some of those little things."

    Though disappointed, McCormack didn't think the manner in which they lost to the Canes (an errant throw from Chris Schmitt, two strikeouts with the tying run on second in the bottom of the ninth) would carry over to the weekend.

    "One thing about this team is that they are pretty resilient," McCormack said. "You see what they do in the later innings. I think we are going to be fine."

    FAU (17-12, 6-8 Sun Belt) needs a three-game sweep of Troy (21-14, 7-6) to climb above the .500 mark in conference.

    The Trojans have already had an interesting week, defeating Samford 17-11 on Wednesday a night after getting crushed by Alabama 22-4.

    They also have more of a home field advantage than normal. Last season the Trojans converted their diamond to a synthetic surface. This will be the Owls first trip to play on the artificial stuff.

    McCormack originally considered moving part of Wednesday's practice to the FAU track so the Owls could get some experience fielding balls on the artificial surface, but the Owls' early travel plans on Thursday left time for a practice at Troy's actual field.

    When the games start tonight, McCormack expects to see a slightly different Troy team than the Owls have faced in the past.

    "Just looking at their stats, they don't seem to be as offensive as they have been in the past, but their starting pitching seems to be solid and if you look at their bullpen numbers they seem to have a pretty good bullpen."

    From the pen: Speaking of the bullpen, McCormack confirmed that Glen Troyanowski (on left in photo, giving a high five to David Wilson) is now the Owls' closer, replacing freshman Hugh Adams. Troyanowski's appearance is not a given, though, even if the Owls take a small lead into the ninth. McCormack said that if Alex Pepe or Chris Schmitt work strong eighth innings, he won't be afraid to send them back out in the ninth.
    Scrimmage at Noon Saturday
    Saturday's football scrimmage is moved up a few hours. Players will take the field at Noon not 2 p.m. as originally scheduled.

    Don't be late.
    Harvath, Standnes receive FAU honors
    A quick congratulations to Florida Atlantic's Lauren Harvath and Shire Standnes who were each hnored honored as FAU's "Student-Athlete of the Year" at the school's Honors Convocation on Wednesday.

    Standnes is a senior on the men's soccer team and Harvath won the Sun Belt Conference Championship in diving this year.

    Here's the official announcement for the prestigious award won by each athlete.
    Playmakers emerge after first FAU football scrimmage
    It seems like many of the scrimmages during Florida Atlantic's spring football practices are either offensive shootouts or dominated by the defense. Saturday's first scrimmage of the spring was a mixed bag. The offense struggled early, but rebounded nicely and there were plenty of plays made on defense. It was basically a draw - and perhaps that's why there were performances on each side of the ball to talk about.

    Let's start with the offense...

  • How nice was it to see TE Jason Harmon on the field after missing all of 2008 after knee surgery. I almost forgot how big a target he is for the Owls' quarterbacks - and Jeff Van Camp found him for two touchdowns including one shown on the video on this page. Also, don't worry about Harmon shying away from any contact. He went right at defenders and took some shots that made the crowd wince. I don't think anyone would complain if he wore one of those red "non-contact" jerseys.

  • Apparently I wasn't the only one who had questions that RBs Willie Floyd and Avionne Rolle could fill the void left by the injury to tailback Jeff Blanchard. After finding out Blanchard is indeed has ligament damage and could possibly miss the 2009 season, FB Alfred Morris was given a shot at tailback. As most of you saw, Morris did not disappoint. It's a long way until the season opener, but the bet here is Morris will be the featured back this fall. Or as QB Rusty Smith, who has as much interest in the FAU ground game as anyone, said: "He was second-string at fullback position, but with the performance he had today, look for him to be at the top of the "I" when we come to Nebraska."

    And for the defense...
  • The linebacking unit is replacing three starters, so I am paying special attention to how the linebackers are progressing and I had to do a double-take when the starters trotted out on the field. There was middle linebacker Michael Lockley: check. There was strongside linebacker Yourhighness Morgan: I was guessing Malik Eugene would be here, but still not a big surprise because Morgan has taken more reps with the first team since his first practice on Monday than Eugene. But at weakside linebacker: Tony Walding? The usual starter, Edward Bradwell, missed the scrimmage to attend the birth of his child (I'd say a legitimate reason) so Walding got the start. The name may sound familiar. Walding signed with FAU out of Florida Air Academy out of Melbourne in 2008, but didn't enroll in the fall for academic reasons. Once those issues were sorted out, Walding enrolled in January and is going through his first practices as an Owl. Walding has picked things up quickly and graded out very well for his play on Saturday.

  • DE Kevin Cyrille received some high praise from Smith, who had to direct an offense against the scout team defense, led by Cyrille, every day at practice last fall. Smith called Cyrille, who had to sit out the 2008 after transferring from Western Michigan due to NCAA rules, the best pass-rusher he has gone against. "Kevin Cyrille is the best pass-rusher I have ever seen and I have gone against (former Clemson DE) Gaines Adams and (Texas DE) Ryan Orakpo and a lot of good pass rushers," Smith said. "He's physical, he does not get cut. He'll bull rush someone lile (FAU OL) Carl Spitale, who is 340 pounds or he'll go around him. He has everything, He has outstanding tenacity and never stops. He has a high motor like (Former FAU DE) Josh Pinnick used to have and is just an outstanding addition to the defensive lineman."

    Cyrille has had a solid spring and turned in a dominating performance in the scrimmage.

    "Last year we had some great players on the D-line, so we have some big shoes to fill" Cyrille said.

  • View videos of FAU TE Jason Harmon scoring a TD in Saturday's spring scrimmage. View in either the Blogger player (left) or RealPlayer (right)

    A few thoughts on 2009 FAU football schedule
    As you may have seen earlier, the 2009 Florida Atlantic football schedule was released on Friday.

    Here's a few thoughts I have:

  • No weeknight games sounds good because college football should be played on Saturday, but it appears this would keep FAU off any Sun Belt games that would be shown on ESPN2 to a nationwide audience. The Owls played two of those games last year, but are down to zero in 2009? Maybe one of those Saturday games could be shown nationally, so I'll be wanting to see the Sun Belt TV schedule, which should be out soon.

  • The Owls get an early off-week, but is it too early? After opening at Nebraska on Sept. 5, FAU is off the very next week. I think it would have been better to have had an open date later. The Owls are also off Oct. 10 and then play the next eight consecutive weeks.

  • FAU will only have two games under its belt before the Sun Belt opener on Sept. 26.
  • Live at Friday's practice
    We are providing live updates from Friday's practice

    Click on the link below to learn everything that happens as it happens.

    FAUOwlAccess live updates

    Saturday's FAU football scrimmage moved up to noon
    I was just told that FAU football's first scrimmage on Saturday has been moved up two hours and will begin at noon instead of 2 p.m.

    Not sure the reason (perhaps it is weather realated because there is a chance of rain on Saturday) but one thing it does is make it easier on those who want to take in the South Alabama-FAU baseball game, which begins at 4 p.m.

    It also gives fans who want to come to the scrimmage a bit more time to get to where they are going to watch the Final Four.

    Whatever the reason, plan accordingly and don't show up at 2 expecting to see the whole scrimmage.

    Also, of note: I just ran into former UM quarterback and FAU broadcaster Steve Walsh at the Oxley. As many of you know Walsh is the new head coach at Cardinal Newman High School in West Palm Beach.
    FAU football progress takes hit with Blanchard injury
    It's feared Florida Atlantic running back Jeff Blanchard may join the ranks of a club that doesn't need any more members.

    Blanchard could be following in the footsteps of former DB Taheem Acevedo, WR Casey McGahee and TE Jason Harmon.

    Those who know their Owls football already know what those players have in common: They had their fall seasons derailed by injuries during spring drills.

    As first reported by on Wednesday, Blanchard suffered a serious knee injury that FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger thinks may require surgery. If so, that will cost Blanchard some, if not all, of the fall season.

    As one reader pointed out, it's not certain Blanchard won't return in 2009. Blanchard is scheduled to have an MRI to determine the severity of the injury on Friday. It certainly is not out of the question the tests could show the injury is not as severe as preliminary tests indicate. However, you can bet Schnellenberger is quite interested in Blanchard's condition and wouldn't say the injury is serious if he thought it wasn't.

    Now, although I did attend college for a few years more than the average college student, I am no doctor and I should resist the temptation to speculate how long it would take Blanchard to return. But, Schnellenberger said the injury is similar to the ones McGahee and Harmon suffered. Their recoveries took some time, but last season Schnellenberger mentioned that Harmon had nearly recovered from the surgery and he briefly considered using him in a game. Also, McGahee was able to play in the last six games of the 2006 season after his knee injury that spring.

    One of the biggest questions would be if Blanchard could he get another redshirt season (The FAU media guide says he redshirted in 2007 and played in just three games after breaking his ankle in the third game of the season). Also, Blanchard played just one season of junior college football before transferring to FAU. So here is his career (eligibility-wise) as I see it.

    2005 - Enrolled at Garden City (Kansas) CC, Redshirt season
    2006 - Played at Garden City CC
    2007 - At FAU, medical redshirt after playing in just three games
    2008 - Played full season at FAU
    2009 - May not be able to play full season

    I believe this would mean he would be eligible for a possible sixth year of eligibility that the NCAA grants for a hardship. Since he has played only one full season of Division I-A football, I would think he would be considered for this exemption - although it is anything but a sure thing he would get it.

    OK, so let's assume the Owls have to go to Plan B at running back. The options are pretty clear. Here is what the pre-season RB depth chart looked like to me.

    Jeff Blanchard
    Willie Floyd
    Avionne Rolle
    Michael Barasch

    So now Floyd stands to be the Owls' featured back? Floyd is quick and elusive, but is not the same back that Blanchard was - and it's not even close. Blanchard, a senior who is listed as 5-9, 195 pounds, was strong and could take on a tackler and keep moving. Floyd is a slasher listed at 5-9, 165 pounds who's upside is his knack for avoiding tackles, like he is doing finding hole in this photo (below) from Wednesday's practice. Does anyone see Floyd moving the pile on a crucial third and one to pick up the few inches to keep the drive alive like Blanchard? No, these are hardly interchangeable parts.

    And since someone mentioned the two-back system FAU often uses, I don't quite think the system of using Floyd as the featured back and Avionne Rolle as a change of pace is going to be nearly as effective as the Blanchard-spelled-by-Floyd backfield would have been. Remember, Rolle, who is listed at 5-9, 180-pounds, has carried the ball three times in his college career.

    It's not really a question of whether FAU will be able to match the 1,804 yards the Owls rushed for last year (I'll take the under). Rather, will losing the guy FAU was depending on to make a smooth transition from 2008's Charles Pierre and DiIvory Edgecomb combo limit the Owls running game so much that defenses can concentrate more on trying to stop the passing game?

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