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Posts from September 2012

FAU students, Owls were no-shows early

 Owl Pix

FAU didn't give out those rally towels after all. Appropriate, because the Owls didn't rally after falling behind early and lost to North Texas 20-14 on Saturday night.

It was a familiar script for the Owls. Start slow and then show signs of life late in the game. Again, it was too little, too late as the Owls fell to 1-4 and 0-2 in the Sun Belt Conference.

FAU was to hand out free rally towels if 4,000 students were in their seats before the game started. There probably were around 1,000 at kickoff. Like their team, FAU students just didn't show up early enough.

Here are a few observations from the game...

  • The Mean Green were able to get to Owls quarterback Graham Wilbert (pictured) early, forcing two picks and a fumble on one of his five sacks. Wilbert has shown he can be a formidable quarterback, but after a few mistakes he isn't the same confident, poised quarterback he is when things are going well.
  • Speaking of the North Texas defensive front seven, the Mean Green had nine tackles for a loss – a very high number of negative plays. FAU's offense is obviously still a work in progress and is not going to have much success when it consistently faces long yardage.
  • If there was a positive, it would have to be how FAU's defensive front appeared to match-up with North Texas' offensive line. The Owls' did not get to Mean Green quarterback Derek Thompson very often (he wasn't sacked all night) but the Owls did keep the Mean Green's running game, which averaged 191 yards a game, in check by holding them to 56 yards on 30 carries.
  • FAU's loss to Middle Tennessee State in the second week of the season doesn't look quite as bad after the Blue Raiders defeated Georgia Tech 49-28 on Saturday afternoon, but FAU has already lost to two of the Sun Belt teams that were predicted to struggle this season and has yet to play teams expected to contend for the conference championship.

We don't want to be accused of sugar-coating, so the only way to look at this season is that it is going to be tougher than many had thought. Perhaps things will turn around by the end of the season and winning a certain game against FIU late in the season could take some of the sting out of the losses, but it's clear FAU is in the early stages of a massive rebuilding project.
 

3 things to watch and our prediction for FAU-UNT

FAU will be facing North Texas today in a game that could be the last meeting for some time between the two schools as the Mean Green are leaving for greener pastures of Conference USA. It seems like a long time ago that North Texas was rolling over everyone in the Sun Belt doesn't it?

Here's 3 Things to Watch in today's game

  • While FAU reserve quarterback Stephen Curtis (turf toe) was out of his walking boot this week at practice, third-string Nick Bracewell was still getting plenty of work and it will be interesting to see if Curtis actually gets in. If the gameplan is to not use him, look for running back Damian Fortner to get the calls if the situation calls for the “wildcat” formation.
  • Speaking of the “wildcat” North Texas uses it as well, and has been known to use a few other trick plays as well. For an FAU defense which is young and still trying to get a handle on a new system, gadget plays can be tough to stop.
  • In the season-opener, FAU announced a crowd of 14,510 but it appeared to be less than 10,000 in the stands. North Texas, which also opened its stadium has had two crowds of 20,000 or more and, like FAU, is struggling this season. With another small crowd today, FAU officials had better start looking in to why the fan base is stagnating and what can be done to fix it.

Prediction: FAU and North Texas are both trying to earn their first Sun Belt conference victory and this game could come down to who wants it more. In an apparently evenly-matched contest, special teams could loom large. North Texas missed three field goals in its 14-7 loss to Troy last week while the Owls are 1-of-3 this season. FAU may be getting better, but North Texas still has the upper hand. North Texas 21, FAU 20
 

ULM-Baylor has highest TV rating for Sun Belt school

Friday's game between Baylor and Louisiana-Monroe on ESPN had a rating of 1.8 and was seen by 12.7 million people, according to the Sun Belt Conference.

That's the most to have ever watched a game involving a Sun Belt Conference school.

The previous highest rating was for last year's FIU-Louisville game, which drew a 1.4 rating

Speaking of the Warhawks, here's a story from SBNation that is worth the read if you have a few minutes. It's long but has some interesting stuff about life as a Sun Belt Conference member.

After Saturday's game against North Texas, ULM is next on FAU's schedule with the Owls traveling to Monroe, La. on Oct. 13.

Former FAU AD Angelos to head USF compliance

It appears former FAU Athletic Director Craig Angelos has landed another job.

The USF blog Voodoo Five says Angelos will be taking a job in the Bulls' athletic department as an associate athletic director in charge of compliance.

Angelos was fired in March by FAU after leading the FAU athletic department since 2003.

Angelos certainly had his detractors at FAU and when you are the AD at FAU, you certainly can be a lightning rod for criticism. One has to be happy for Angelos, who had a compliance background before he came to FAU, and his family as it appears he has landed a job that is right for him.

Orange Park OL Jhory Jones commits to FAU

It looks like FAU has landed another verbal commitment.

Orange Park offensive lineman Jhory Jones has committed to FAU a source told Owl Access on Monday.

The 6-foot-6, 285-pound Jones was also reportedly recruited by FIU, Akron, South Alabama and Florida A&M.

Jones is the sixth player to verbally commitment to FAU's 2013 recruiting class. Click here for FAU's verbal  commitemnts and offers.

Here is Jones' highlight video...

 

FAU spoils Alabama's shutout streak

By now everyone has heard, dissected and analyzed Cory Henry's comments from earlier in the week that had the internet buzzing (although I still have yet to figure out what all the hub-bub was about)

Well, no, the Owls didn't beat Alabama (Henry never said they were going to) so FAU will have to settle for spoiling the Crimson Tide's bid for three consecutive shutouts.

And that showed some moxie by the Owls and caught the attention of the Crimson Tide that FAU did not come up to Tuscaloosa with a defeatist attitude.

FAU's touchdown came late in the game but the crowd that stayed until the end was as loud as it had been all day as Graham Wilbert lobbed a nice pass to tight end Alex DeLeon with 2:49 remaining.

More impressive was that the Owls elected not to kick a short field goal a few moments before that also would have ended the streak. FAU broke the streak the hard way. 

How bad did Alabama want the shutout?  Moments after the score, Alabama coach Nick Saban was nearly at the goal-line to yell at the officials after a controversial penalty went against Alabama on the drive.

FAU didn't beat Alabama, but the Owls made a bigger impression late in the game with that TD than anything that was said during the week.

3 things to watch and our prediction for FAU-Alabama

It's a beautiful football Saturday here in Alabama and in a few hours FAU will face the Crimson Tide, the No. 1 team in the nation. It's another great atmosphere for the Owls to play in and something the players will remember for the rest of their lives. I've got a prediction and a few things worth watching for FAU fans.

  • How will Henry do: It's a safe bet many binoculars will be trained on FAU defensive end Cory Henry to see how he plays after a comment he made earlier this week was considered by many to be a shot at Alabama. However, it's unclear how much Henry will actually play after being limited in practice due to illness. I'm sure he'd like to get in there to try and show he can hold his own, but his chances to do that could be limited.
  • Bulk at defense: Last week against Georgia, the Owls started a true freshman (Trevon Coley) and a redshirt freshman (Brandin Bryant) at defensive tackles while Jimmy Jean was home sick. Jean and Karl James, both seniors, have been taking extended snaps with the first team and it will be interesting to see of the Owls try and beef up in the middle vs. the Crimson Tide.
  • Big test for William Dukes: Wide receiver William Dukes had 98 yards receiving last week vs. the Bulldogs and that's the kind of game we've been waiting to see from the sophomore. He'll be the No. 1 option for Grahanm Wilbert and if he can come close to last week's performance, the Owls will likely have found their next game-breaking receiver.


Now it's time for our prediction.

Like the game itself, there isn't much drama here as I need to stick by what I wrote for al.com, the website for The Birmingham News, Mobile Press-Register and Huntsville Times.

While FAU is improving from game-to-game (Pelini's goal) it will find the going tougher than it did last week in Athens. With Alabama players wanting to get that third consecutive shutout, there could be some motivation to completely shut down the Owls.

It could be close early, but it won't take long for Alabama's talent to take over.

I think FAU will score, but it could be late in the game after Alabama's offense has worn down the Owls defense.

Alabama 49, FAU 7

FAU had memorable games vs. Alabama in other sports

When Florida Atlantic faces traditional powers there are always many fans of the other school who have never heard of FAU before.

While I'm sure there are many Alabama fans who may not be familiar with FAU, there are likely some Crimson Tide faithful who remember the Owls from a few years back in some other sports besides football.

After all, two of the best moments in FAU's athletics history involved facing Alabama.

In 2002, FAU made the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament for the first and only time. The Owls' opponent in the first round? Alabama.

FAU was a No. 15 seed and gave Alabama, a No. 2 seed, a very tough game in Greenville, S.C. Leading for a few minutes in the second half (see above picture).

Alabama beat FAU 86-78, but lost to Kent State in the second round.

FAU's baseball team had better success vs. Alabama in 2002 as the Owls defeated Alabama to win the Tuscaloosa Regional. FAU advanced to the Super Regional and to this day it is still the only time an FAU team has advanced out of a regional in an NCAA tournament in any sport. The Owls also swept Alabama in a three-game series to start the 2012 baseball season,

Of course, one doesn't have to go to far to find a football connection either, although Saturday's game was off by a year of being a homecoming of sorts for former FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger.

Schnellenberger, a fund-raider for FAU, was an assistant coach under Paul Bear Bryant from 1961-65 and was part of three national championship teams there.

Here's more on Schnellenberger's Alabama connection.
 

Tide fans take to Twitter to harass Cory Henry

As some of you know, I am from Alabama and nearly all of my friends and family are die-hard Crimson Tide fans.

I can say with confidence that nearly all Alabama fans are good people who support their team through positive channels.

But some in Bama Nation are disgracing the school, players and coaches with disgusting and vile comments directed toward Owls defensive end Cory Henry on Twitter.

Earlier this week Henry made some comments that caught the attention of many who took his words to mean he was disrespecting Alabama and talking trash before FAU faces Alabama on Saturday.

Never mind that what Henry said really wasn't that outlandish and wasn't disrespectful at all in my opinion. But don't take my word for it.

Please listen to the entire interview here before you form an opinion on Henry's comments...

 

If player doesn't appear, click here to listen

 

That hasn't stopped some Alabama fans, who  found Henry's Twitter page and figured they would post his Twitter handle along with crude comments.

I am not linking to Henry's page because I don't want to encourage any further personal attacks. Some of the comments were way over the line.

Most Alabama fans have class, but once again, a few individuals (and Alabama fans know the examples) make the entire fan base look bad.
 

Palm Beach Central RB commits to FAU

Palm Beach Central running back Lloyd Howard has verbally committed to Florida Atlantic, according to The Palm Beach Post.

The 5-foot-7, 165-pound Howard is the Owls' fifth commitment of the 2013 recruiting class.

Howard has rushed for 173 yards in two games so far this season, but had 274 yards and five touchdowns in Palm Beach Central's 68-44 victory over Village Academy in a pre-season kickoff classic.

Hhoward's junior season was cut short due to his involvement in a brawl in a game vs. Oakland Park-Northeast, the Post reported,

Here's a highlight tape of Howard. 

Former FAU Associate AD is next AD at Arkansas St.

Congratulations are in order for former Florida Atlantic Associate Athletics Director Terry Mohajir.

According to ArkansasSports360 Mohajir will be named the new athletics director at Arkansas State at a news conference today.

We told you last week that Mohajir and former FAU AD Craig Angelos had both applied for the job.

After leaving FAU in 2011, Mohajir has been KU's Associate AD - External Relations at Kansas for a little more than a year before accepting the job at Arkansas State, where he was a defensive back in the early 1990s.

Mohajir did a fine job while at FAU trying to raise money in a tough economy and I'm confident he will do well at Arkansas State.

Baseball coach John McCormack signs 4-year contract

A few weeks ago we told you that FAU was close to signing Owls baseball coach John McCormack to a multi-year contract after working under a series of one-year deals.

Today, FAU made it official by announcing that McCormack has signed a four-deal.

For the entire press release, click here.

It’s a very good sign that FAU is willing to make a commitment to the baseball program, Here’s hoping the next step is the announcement of some upgrades to the stadium so that McCormack can go out and recruit against other college programs.

WR William Dukes may miss Alabama game

Florida Atlantic receiver William Dukes had a breakout game vs. Georgia, but he may not be available for this week's contest at No. 1 Alabama.

Against the Bulldogs, Dukes had 98 yards receiving on five catches including a 48-yard reception that put the Owls at the 1-yard line and set up their second touchdown of the game.

However, Dukes was carted off the field after receiving a leg injury late in the game.

Owls coach Carl Pelini said Dukes' injury, and a leg injury to backup quarterback Stephen Curtis, were not serious, but could keep them from playing Saturday when FAU faces Alabama.

“Both of them are short term,” Pelini said. “I don't know about this week, but neither of them have any kind of fracture.”

Dukes Tweeted on Monday that he had a “calf contusion” and was receiving treatment on Sunday and Monday.

If Curtis doesn't play vs. Alabama, redshirt sophomore Nick Bracewell could see action. Bracewell saw the playing field for the first time late in the Owls' 55-20 loss to Georgia on Saturday.

 

 

Early showing vs. UGA shows Owls are on right track

When people all across the country woke up today and saw “Georgia 56, FAU 20” they will assume the Bulldogs had an easy time with the Owls on Saturday

And for most of the game No. 7 Georgia did just that.

However, until midway through the second quarter, the game was essentially a draw. FAU had been moving the ball on offense and forcing stops on defense and tied the game with 12 minutes remaining in the first half on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Graham Wilbert to tight end Nexon Dorvilus (photo by Ralph Landau of Dorvilus handing the ball to the official after his catch). That's when ESPN cut to the studio to show the score, UGA was officially on "upset alert" and "FAU" was trending on Twitter.

From that point on Georgia rolled, outscoring the Owls 42-6 the rest of the way.

But FAU showed signs early on that perhaps this program is not as far behind as many had thought. The Owls offense put together some impressive drives and even (gasp!) threw the ball downfield a few times. And the defense made enough plays to frustrate the Georgia offense (at least enough until it got in gear and rolled to 713 total yards).

The Owls should not feel good about Saturday night’s performance, but it should feel good about its chances of getting better this season, because early on in a game against a top 10 opponent, it may have been the better team.
 

3 things to watch and our prediction for FAU-Georgia

The result may be a bit too predictable for FAU's game vs. Georgia, but there are a few things to watch in today's game.

  • The Owls' offensive line will need to be effective if FAU is to be competitive vs. the Bulldogs. The O-Line took a step backward in pass protection and run blocking last week and likely will make yet another change by putting junior college transfer Mustafa Johnson back in the starting lineup to replace Jimmie Colley.
  • True freshman Cre'von LeBlanc was finally cleared to play and it looks like he will see some action in today's game, running with the first unit in the nickel package. The Owls have big plans for LeBlanc and it will be interesting to see how he fares in his debut.
  • FAU will use three linebackers more than it has all season. That's not such a bad thing as its a way to get three of its top defensive players (David Hinds, Randell Johnson and Adarius Glanton) on the field at the same time.


Prediction

While Florida Atlantic is facing tough odds as it tries to beat No. 7 Georgia, last week gave more evidence that a Sun Belt school can beat a top 10 SEC team.

ULM's upset over Arkansas could possibly give FAU some hope that it can be done. However, it also gave the Georgia coaching staff something to show its team to keep them focused for the game. No way Georgia looks past the Owls. Georgia 55, FAU 10

Georgia's Richt was once a candidate to coach FAU

Earlier this week Tom D'Angelo of The Palm Beach Post had a nice feature on Georgia coach Mark Richt, who not only played for former Owls coach Howard Schnellenberger at Miami, but also was a star at Boca Raton High School in the late 1970s.

What many have forgotten was that at one time Richt was on FAU's radar to be its head coach.

When Schnellenberger arrived at FAU in 1998, his title was Director of Football Operations and one of his tasks was to find the Owls' first coach.

Of course, most thought Schnellenberger would name himself – and he did a year later. But for a time, it was also believed that both Richt and Terry Bowden were also targeted (possibly by rumors started by Schnellenberger himself). Richt, then the offensive coordinato at Florida Stater, was one of the top assistants in the nation and Bowden had recently been run out of Auburn.

The way I remember it, (I was the FAU beat writer for the now-defunct Boca Raton News at the time) is that before talks got too serious with either Richt or Bowden, Schnellenberger pulled the trigger and named himself the head coach. It probably worked out best that way, because if Richt or Bowden would have come to FAU, they probably would have looked at other opportunities if they had the same success as Schnellenberger had. Schnellenberger was in his 70s by the time the Owls made back-to-back bowl appearances and clearly wasn't leaving Boca Raton.

And I wouldn't feel too bad for Richt, who was hired by Georgia in 2001 or Bowden, who had a long stint as a broadcaster before deciding a few years ago to get back into coaching.

Sun Belt moving to nine conference games in 2015?

The Sun Belt Conference appears to be moving to a nine-game conference schedule as early as the 2015 season, according to the website FBSchedules.com.

The site posted Western Kentucky’s future schedules, and indeed there are nine conference games scheduled following the 2014 season.

The most significant aspect of adding a conference game (the Sun Belt currently plays eight conference games) is that  there is now one less non-conference game to schedule. But that’s fine with the Sun Belt which has been trying to wean its members of playing too many “body-bag” games to get a nice paycheck.

Also, FAU fans may be interested that Western Kentucky is not scheduled to face the Owls in 2013.
 

Angelos, Mohajir apply to be Arkansas State AD

Arkansas State’s new athletic director could be very familiar to Florida Atlantic fans.

According to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, former FAU Athletic Director Craig Angelos and former FAU Associate Athletic Director Terry Mohajir have both applied to be the Arkansas State AD.

I wouldn’t venture to guess what the leaders at ASU are thinking, but they are probably very familiar with what Angelos and Mohajir did at FAU and could probably get an even better idea about each candidate by calling FAU President Mary Jane Saunders.

Angelos’ case probably isn’t bolstered by the fact he was fired by FAU earlier this spring, while Mohajir has been successful at Kansas after he left FAU in the summer of 2011.

Mohajir is an alum of Arkansas State and played football there in the early 1990s.
 

FAU depth chart has a few changes this week

Florida Atlantic's depth chart has some changes for Saturday's game at No. 7 Georgia.

Perhaps the biggest change is that wide receiver Daniel McKinney (pictured) is listed as this week's starter over Paul Moore at the slot receiver position. It appears the change will be permanent. Moore, who started vs. Wagner, Tweeted that he has a knee injury and is done with football “for the season.” After practice Owls coach Carl Pelini said Moore has left the team, but was cleared to play.

The other two lineup changes should not come as a complete surprise, since I mentioned the possibility of them happening before Saturday's game. Linebacker Adarius Glanton, a junior college transfer, started against Middle Tennessee. Glanton was not listed as the starter in last week's depth chart, but is on the one FAU provided to Georgia this week.

Also, as expected, senior center Jimmie Colley is listed ahead of junior college transfer Mustafa Johnson. Colley also started against the Blue Raiders.

 

 

Morris on Owl Fingers: 'I'm proud to have played at FAU'

Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris wants everyone to know he played at Florida Atlantic.

 That's why he shows his Owl Fingers after finding the end zone.

 "I do it for a reason," Morris told me on Monday, a little more than 24 hours after he scored twice in his NFL debut. "I'm proud of where I came from. I'm proud to have played at FAU."

 A sixth-round draft choice in 2012, Morris says he learned on Saturday that he would be a starter in his first NFL game.

 As most FAU fans know by now, Morris rewarded Mike Shanahan's decision by rushing for 96 yards and those two TDs. 

"That was phenomenal - especially the second (TD) because I was like, I'm not going to be denied now," Morris said. 

Morris said simply stepping on the field prior to his first game was "exciting" and had him thinking back to when he first started playing football. 

"Starting in pee wee and all I had to go through to get to this point - all the perseverance all the hard work - it was worth it," Morris said. "I'm living out my dream." 

That dream includes a few simple perks. 

FAU team travel has always been - shall we say - interesting. (Saturday's FAU team flight back from Nashville that was supposed to land at Palm Beach International Airport instead landed at Fort Lauderdale, with those on the flight being told PBIA - where the team buses were waiting - was closed for construction.) 

NFL travel is a little different. 

"I went on the plane and got ice cream," Morris said. "I love this!"

Annual Basketball Fund-raiser at Matteo’s set for Oct. 29

I was talking to an FAU fan over the weekend, who joked “When does basketball season start?”

Well, I hope Owl Nation isn’t giving up on football season after just two weeks, but it’s never too early to start thinking about the upcoming hoops season.

And it looks like there will be a chance for Owl fans to get together and talk hoops with the coach and his staff and ItsOwlTime.com’s annual fund-raiser for the basketball program on Oct. 29 at Matteo’s.

Last year’s event was a great success and this year’s will likely be even bigger.

Hope we will see you out there for a great time for a great cause.
 

Former FAU RB Alfred Morris to start for Redskins

It looks like FAU’s all-time leading rusher, Alfred Morris, will be in the starting lineup for the Redskins today when they play the Saints in New Orleans.

Morris will get the start  for Washington, according to a Tweet from Washington NBC4 sports anchor Dan Hellie (who used to work at West Palm Beach’s Ch.5 way before the Jason Pugh era). 

Morris was drafted in the sixth round by the Redskins and impressed the coaching staff in the preseason.

Morris will become the third former FAU player to start an NFL game. Former Owl quarterback Rusty Smith started a game for the Titans in 2010 and tight end Rob Housler started twice for the Cardinals last season.

Want to keep track of Morris?

Here's a link to follow the game via NFL.com.
 

Prediction: MTSU regroups, beats Owls in close game

Florida Atlantic enters Saturday's game at Middle Tennessee with a chance to surpass last season's victory total. And the Owls really couldn't ask for a better team to play as the Blue Raiders are reeling and may be the worst team in the Sun Belt.

Here are three things to watch in the game...

Owls O-Line is getting better: FAU did a good job protecting the quarterback (only one sack was allowed) and opening up holes in the running game. It all starts up front and the Owls are improving there. In a related note, it's possible center Jimmie Colley could crack the starting lineup or see more playing time after a good week of practice.

Linebackers face tough test: Facing a team that runs the spread offense like Middle Tennessee's means lots of formations with five defensive backs and just two linebackers. Junior college transfer Adarius Glanton may be ready to crack the starting lineup and I wouldn't be surprised if he starts next to David Hinds ahead of Andrae Kirk vs. MTSU.

Special teams needs to settle down: FAU had some breakdowns last week in the kicking game such as a fumbled punt return by Travis Jones and a missed 39-yard field goal. The Owls really can't afford miscues like that on the road.

On to the prediction, which I actually gave on Friday for a feature with Adam Sparks, the MTSU beat writer for The Murfreesboro Daily News Journal and the editor for BlueRaiders.com. Here's what I told him when he asked for a prediction...

It's  battle between a team that lost to a a top-tier FCS team and a team that squeaked by a partially-funded FCS team and a tough call. Neither the Owls or the Blue Raiders look too impressive, so I see a close game like many of the FAU-MTSU games of the past. Maybe a last-second TD pass decides it again.

Prediction: MTSU 17, FAU 15.

FAU game at Alabama available on PPV, set for 5 p.m.

I’m sure the details will be coming soon, but there is more good news for FAU fans as Alabama announced Thursday its game vs. the Owls on Sept. 22 will be televised and available on Pay Per View.

Alabama also set the kickoff for 5 p.m.

This is the ninth time this season FAU will have a game televised or streamed live on ESPN3.com. That’s pretty good exposure.

Since this news just came out I have no idea on how to order for your home viewing pleasure, but when a game is on pay per view any sports bar worth its salt should be able to figure out how to call it up on their TVs. More details will be coming soon as the game approaches.

Here is FAU’s 2012 schedule with TV information.
 

Curtis in the wildcat? Could happen

Florida Atlantic fans likely have not seen the last of quarterback Stephen Curtis.

Yes, Curtis struggled in the first half of the Owls' 7-3 victory over Wagner and was benched by Graham Wilbert, who led the team to the victory and was named the starter for Saturday's game at Middle Tennessee.

But when Owls coach Carl Pelini watched the tape he found that the woeful offensive performance wasn't entirely Curtis' fault. For instance, in the first half, receivers weren't running routes as well as they did later in the game, Pelini said.

I’m a little careful about putting that whole offensive performance in the first half on Stephen’s shoulders,” Pelini said. “I still think he has a future here. He showed us enough in camp to know he’s a talented kid. His first game, he probably had a little jitters and pressed a little bit too much. He just needs some experience to settle back and let the offense happen and not force it.”

FAU offensive coordinator Brian Wright also said he saw some positives in Curtis' outing.

“There were some positives with Stephen,” Wright said. “In a passing game when you go 4-for-10 it doesn't always fall on the quarterback. Certainly there are some things that fall on his shoulders, but there are 10 other guys on offense.”

So what's next for Curtis? Well, he probably should be ready this week just in case Wilbert struggles or is injured. And even if Wilbert keeps playing like he did vs. the Seahawks, that doesn't necessarily mean Curtis won't see the field again this season.

In fact, Pelini said it's possible Curtis could see action in a “wildcat” formation in the future.

“You might think about developing a package for him down the road - a wildcat type package, which as a defensive coordinator you hate to see,” Pelini said “It's one thing defending a wildcat-type of offense with a running back at quarterback. It's another thing when there is the threat to throwing the ball.”

And for his part, Curtis, just a redshirt sophomore, handled his benching well.

“I missed some reads but it was just a couple of small mistakes I made,” Curtis said. “You just go look at the film and get ready for next week. I could have done better, but I can't go back and change that now, so I'm just focused on next week.”

And Curtis just may be practicing with something to prove. Pelini said Curtis came out and had a solid practice on Tuesday.

“He had a pretty good practice,” Pelini said, “He’s not a guy who’s going to get down on himself. He’s pretty competitive....I didn't see any lingering after affects.”

FAU players get a kick out of pre-game video

A pretty cool scene unfolded immediately after FAU's 7-3 victory over Wagner on Friday.

After the team went over to the salute the student section – a very nice gesture in what could become a tradition, the players stopped in the tunnel to watch the video shown on the big screen.

I think the video was shown in the pre-game but too early for the players to watch it, so some were probably seeing it for the first time.

It's a video that really gets the crowd fired up, and judging by the look on the faces of the players, the team enjoys it as well.

In case you missed it or just want to see it again, here it is...

Pelini: Wagner game will count toward bowl eligibility

Florida Atlantic coach Carl Pelini said Monday the Owls' 7-3 victory over Wagner will count toward the Owls' bowl eligibility.

Owl Access previously reported the victory would not count in terms of bowl eligibiliy due to an NCAA rule requiring Football Championship Subdivision teams to award 90 percent of the maximum number of scholarship of the 63 allowed at that level.

Wagner only has awarded around 40 athletic scholarships the last last few years, but Pelini said other financial aid pushes that number past the 56.7 Wagner would have to average in a rolling two-year period.

“They have a foundation set up to pay scholarships, so they are a 'Bowl-eligible' win,” Pelini said. “They have 69.26 kids on scholarships. Just 40 are funded by athletics and 20 essentially funded by the university.”

Here is the text of the NCAA rule...

18.7.2.2.1 Exception—Football Championship Subdivision Opponent.

[FBS] Each year, a Football Bowl Subdivision institution may count one victory against a Football Championship Subdivision opponent toward meeting the definition of a “deserving team,” provided the opponent has averaged 90 percent  of the permissible maximum number of grants-in-aid per year in football during a rolling two-year period.  (Adopted: 10/28/97 effective 8/1/98, Revised: 4/28/05, 12/15/06, 4/29/10 effective 8/1/10, 7/30/10)

 

Wilbert wrestles starting QB assignment away from Curtis

Florida Atlantic’s coaching staff tried to replicate the speed of a game during the practices in preseason training camp.

And although we can only assume quarterback Stephen Curtis outperformed Graham Wilbert in the many workouts before Friday’s season opener vs. Wagner, when the game began, Curtis just wasn’t ready.

Curtis (Photo from Wagner photo gallery from Owl Pix.com) was benched after a dreadful (4-of-10 for 37 yards) first half performance. Wilbert came in to start the second half and created a spark for the Owls’ offense and threw a fourth-quarter TD pass that was the game-winner in the surprising 7-3 victory.

“Graham did a tremendous job,” Owls coach Carl Pelini said on Monday. “When we decided to go with Stephen we did it based on what our strengths as a team were and what our philosophy of a team was going to have to be this year, we’re going to have to run the ball, we’re going to have to play good defense, we’re going to have to play soundly on special teams and we felt Stephen being a little bit better runner would fit better with that philosophy.”

That’s why it’s no surprise that Wilbert will be the starter this week as FAU heads into Saturday’s game at Middle Tennessee. Pelini said Wilbert will begin practice this week as the starter.

“Some of it will depend on how they perform in practice this week but I think Graham earned the spot with his performance on Friday,” Pelini said.

It’s the right call, but if I were the Owls, I would not give up on Curtis just a yet. Just a redshirt sophomore, Curtis was seeing his most significant action to date. He struggled, but many quarterbacks do in their first start. He clearly wasn’t ready for his first start, but can use the outing as a learning experience.

And, as for Wilbert, one has to give a tip of the hat to the senior. After losing his job, he could have sulked and mailed it in. Instead he prepared in case he was needed and came up with one of the best showings in his career.
 

New Jersey shooting guard Chris Jenkins commits to FAU

Florida Atlantic basketball’s 2013 recruiting class has its first member.

After making an official visit to FAU this weekend, Gill St. Bernards (New Jersey) shooting guard Chris Jenkins verbally committed to the Owls on Sunday.

"I loved the campus and the coaching staff is really supportive," Jenkins said. "They love their guys and the guys love them.  It’s a program that is really going to be good in a couple of years and I just want to be a part of that."

The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Jenkins averaged 17 points per game for Morristown-Beard as a junior and transferred to Gill St. Benards over the summer.

Jenkins was also being recruited by Drexel, Northeastern, Florida International and Robert Morris.
 

FAU's victory vs. Wagner shows a win isn't always a win

There were plenty of smiles on the field immediately after Florida Atlantic’s 7-3 victory over Wagner on Friday.

And why not? You play to win the game. The Owls did that and head coach Carl Pelini notched his first victory as a college head coach.

Pelini (Photo from OwlPix.com) deserves a hearty congratulations.

However, after the euphoria of escaping vs. the Seahawks wears off, it’s time to look at reality.

While it’s far better than a loss, narrowly defeating a limited-scholarship team in a game which wasn’t decided until the last play at mostly-empty stadium should be a cause for concern.

Wagner was brought in to provide an easy victory for the Owls in Pelini’s first game. Instead FAU should consider itself fortunate to have won the game. Perhaps it was a good thing that fewer than 10,000 were on hand to see it.

And what exactly did the Owls win? Well, when it comes to bowl-eligibility – nothing. While it’s not very likely it will be a concern for FAU, the NCAA has a rule that keeps FBS teams from counting victories against FCS teams unless they have at least 54 scholarships. Wagner has about 40 scholarships, the philosophy that “a win is a win” doesn’t apply to the victory vs. Wagner in terms of making it to a bowl, a goal of every FBS team.

However, next week’s game at Middle Tennessee does count , and also counts in the Sun Belt Conference standings. After the Blue Raiders fell to FCS McNeese State 27-21 on Thursday, perhaps the Owls have a chance.

Now, FAU must fund a way to pump life into its offense, which looked only marginally better than last year’s – much to the dismay of all the “spread heads” who thought bringing a spread offense would be a magical cure for FAU’s offense.

Was FAU really that bad on Friday? We’ll get a much better idea next Saturday when the Owls face a team its own league.

Owl Access Link Center

FAU Football: Pelini gets first win as Owls defeat Wagner

More media coverage: Sun-Sentinel / Palm Beach Post / University Press

 

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Go watch college football in Boca. It's that simple. Support your local team and go have a good time!

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