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Sunday's Daily Briefing: Ford Field Fiasco overshadows progress by FAU

A day later I’m still trying to figure out why FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger opted to kick a field goal with 2:50 remaining in the game when the Owls had the ball on the 6-yard line and the Owls were down 30-14 to Michigan State on Saturday at Ford Field.thumb

Apparently they are wondering the same thing in Michigan, as this column shows.
Here are three interesting decisions made in the final few minutes that perhaps some are wondering about. Schnellenberger addressed all these issues in his post-game press conference, which you can see in its entirety here.

The decision to put backup quarterback Graham Wilbert late in the game

  • What happened: With 5:41 remaining in the game and the Owls trailing 30-14, Wilbert trotted on to the field for his first college action. He completed his first college pass, a 41-yard pass to Lester Jean who darted up the middle and then down the right sideline before being pushed out at the 2-yard line.
  • What Schnellenberger said: “I wanted to make sure we got my second quarterback some work in a good situation. I didn’t think it was the thing to do to try to get him in the first quarter or second quarter."
  • My take: Before anyone could Twitter “Why the hell is Wilbert in the game?” he answered the question by driving the Owls down the field. I have no problem with putting Wilbert in, which will benefit Wilbert down the road.
The decision to not challenge if Lester Jean made it into to the end zone
  • What happened: On Jean’s pass, he appeared on some replays to have broken the plane in the end zone with the ball as he was pushed out of bounds.
  • What Schnellenberger said: “The thing I got from upstairs was that he stepped out and they had plenty of time to review it.”
  • My take: Remember in college football, every play is reviewed. I don’t know if the Owls would have won the challenge, but I’ll bet if the coaching staff knew a field goal was coming up, it would have been worth it to risk the timeout.
The decision to kick a field goal with less than 3 minutes remaining
  • What happened: After lining up to go for it, the Owls called timeout and sent out the field goal unit. Gornall kicked a meaningless 24-yard field goal to the surprise of everyone.
  • What Schnellenberger said: "I did what I thought was best."
  • My take: Still can’t figure this one out. Seems to me like going for TD and 2-point conversion to cut it to a margin of eight would have been the strategy.
It’s one thing to quibble about whether FAU should have tried to pull off a miracle finish or not, but it appears as if Owl Nation is letting those calls – which ultimately probably would not have made a difference in the game - question the entire direction of the program.
That is foolish.
The chances are highly unlikely the Owls would have scored a TD, made a 2-point conversion, recovered an onside kick, scored another TD and, finally, another 2-point conversion to tie the game - and then won it overtime.
What fans should take from this game is the progress this team has made in the last two games. Going toe-to-toe with Michigan State certainly bodes well for the Sun Belt Conference portion of the schedule.
Yes, it would have been interesting to cut the margin to 30-22 and watch the few Spartan fans who supported their team at Ford Field squirm in their seats.
Let’s just hope that if the same situation appears again this season, the Owls do the math and go for the touchdown.

> Owl Links: Articles of interest to FAU fans had our usual team of myself and Chuck King in Detroit for the game. Our coverage of the game included a recap, our breakdown, video highlights and photos from Nine Digit Media's Ralph Notaro. You can check out our complete coverage of the game here.

More Game Coverage:Sun-Sentinel / Lansing State Journal / Detroit Free Press / Detroit News


September 12, 2010

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