BOCA RATON – When Korel Smith saw Terrell Owens standing on sideline prior to FAU’s first fall intrasquad scrimmage, the Owls’ quarterback immediately thought about how great it would be to cover the Hall-of-Fame receiver.
With Owens wearing street clothes, that wasn’t going to happen. So Smith did, what in his mind, was the next best thing. He started trash talking.
“Why not? Why not? Why not?” Smith said. “Because he’s TO? Nahhh. We don’t care about that.”
It’s no surprise that Owens – attending scrimmage to watch his son, FAU wide receiver Terique – gave it right back to Smith and the rest of the Owls’ defensive backs.
“He was trash talking all of us a little bit, messing with us. It was kind of like, having fun, throwing shots at everyone,” cornerback Meiko Dotson said. “He was saying he’d take us deep. We were just coming at him saying, ‘You wouldn’t catch the ball.’”
That defensive backs like to run their mouths on the football isn’t new. The bravado that this year’s crop of FAU DBs showed in fall camp, however, took talk to another level.
Good-natured belittling of a Hall-of-Fame receiver? That’s an unexpected perk that comes with the job.
“I feel like me, personally, it helps me focus more when I talk,” cornerback Chris Tooley said. “If I don’t talk, I feel like I’m just not in the zone.”
Tooley and company spent much of coach Lane Kiffin’s third fall camp explicitly detailing the impeding doom about to strike Owls’ wide receivers. More often than not the secondary, led by Smith, Tooley, James Pierre, Da’Von Brown and Zyon Gilbert, backed up their words with tight coverage that led to interceptions.
Sometimes the receivers tried to talk back. That usually didn’t end well.
“John Mitchell can not trash talk,” Tooley said, referring to the Owls’ project No. 1 receiver. “Oh my gosh! He doesn’t even know what to say. He’s just cussing and he says something and we just laugh. Sometimes we just laugh at him because he’s so funny. He gets so frustrated.”
The defensive backs didn’t limit their chatter to receivers, either.
“We would be in the weight room doing our walk through and all you hear is just a bunch of chitter-chatter, the defense talking,” quarterback Chris Robison said. “You couldn’t even really hear the offense just because of how loud they were screaming.”
If the Owls were willing to trash talk a Hall-of-Fame wide receiver who happens to be the father of one of their teammates, it’s a good bet they will continue to bring the noise on Saturday when FAU opens its season on Saturday as a nearly four-touchdown underdog at No. 5 Ohio St.
More than simply noise, the Owls say the talk serves a purpose.
“It just keeps everybody going,” he said. “It’s hot out there. People get tired. People’s legs get heavy. You might get a little bump or bruise. You might tell yourself, Oh, I can’t go. But if you hear your teammate say, ‘Hey, let’s go, let’s turn up,’ that might get you going. A lot of us defensive players, we try to keep that juice, we try to keep it going. We try to keep it going all day, constantly, constantly constantly, every day.”
That juice fueled the Owls during fall camp. It won’t stop flowing on game days.
“We talk a lot, we get the juice going,” Smith said. “The D-lineman might be tired, but if they hear us back there riled up and stuff that might get them going. Them boys might be going hunting a little bit more.”