2008 Florida Atlantic (FAU) Owls Football Preview
Florida Atlantic Owls - Sun Belt
FAU 2007 Record: (8-5, 6-1)
2007 Bowl: New Orleans Bowl vs. Memphis (W 44-27)
FAU Head Coach: Howard Schnellenberger (39-38 at Florida Atlantic, 141-119-3 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Gary Nord
Defensive Coordinator: Kirk Hoza
Returning Leaders for Florida Atlantic:
Other Key FAU Returnees: LB George Allen, LB Andre Clark, DE Jermaine Council, RB Di’Ivory Edgecomb, TE Jason Harmon, OT Brandon Jackson, DT Jervonte Jackson, G David Matlock, C Nick Paris, OT John Rizzo, FB Willie Rose, Corey Small
Key FAU Losses: S Taheem Acevedo, S Kris Bartels, LB Cergile Sincere, G Jarrid Smith
Last season was supposed to be a stepping stone to the 2008 campaign where Florida Atlantic was expected to compete for a Sun Belt title. Instead, the Owls took care of business in 2007 and won the conference, not to mention a “neutral” site game against Minnesota in Florida and the New Orleans Bowl over Memphis. With just about everybody returning on both sides of the ball, FAU could dominate the conference and cause some worries early in the season against the non-conference slate.
FAU's 2008 Strengths:
Coach Howard Schnellenberger returns ten starters to his offense that ranked second in the conference overall last year. Quarterback Rusty Smith threw for 3,688 yards and 32 touchdowns as a sophomore and all his main targets are back. Cortez Gent caught a team high 64 passes for 1,082 yards and nine touchdowns, but Chris Bonner and Conshario Johnson are also dangerous receiving threats. What makes the offense so dynamic in the passing game is tight end Jason Harmon and running back Di’Ivory Edgecomb. Harmon caught 63 passes during his junior campaign and will once again be Smith’s target of choice when the wideouts are not open down the field. Edgecomb will not get a lot of carries, but he is extremely dangerous catching passes out of the backfield. It is Charles Pierre who will do a majority of the rushing after garnering 782 yards on the ground last year.
FAU's 2008 Weaknesses:
The defense was pretty average, but with eight starters returning and a couple guys back who missed at least most of last season, the Owls defense could quickly move up to the top of the conference. The front four gets all their starters back and tackle Josh Savidge who missed all but four games with a knee injury in 2007. The rush defense was the strength last year and will be again this time around, but the unit has to do a better job of getting into the backfield. The loss of linebacker Cergile Sincere is a concern, but George Allen, Andre Clark and Frantz Joseph are a solid and experienced group. Corners Tavious Polo and Corey Small combined for 12 interceptions last season and will shut down just about everybody they go up against and Erick McIntosh will provide some quality depth after missing last season due to academic reasons.
The Bottom Line for the FAU Owls:
The Owls offense can carry this team to a Sun Belt title, but the defense has the potential to turn this into a very special season in Boca Raton. Smith, now an upperclassman, has already developed into a smart and consistent quarterback and he can put this team on his shoulders. And having all those weapons to work with will certainly make his job much easier.
2007 FAU Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 126.00 (93rd in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 291.08 (16, 1)
Total Offense: 417.08 (41, 2)
Scoring Offense: 31.15 (42, 2)
Rushing Defense: 174.69 (80, 3)
Pass Defense: 240.92 (77, 5)
Total Defense: 415.62 (82, 5)
Scoring Defense: 33.23 (99, 5)
Turnover Margin: 1.38 (3, 1)
Sacks: 1.23 (110, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 1.15 (13, 1)
By Joel Welser
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