2009 Florida Atlantic Owls Football Preview
2008 Record: (7-6, 4-3)
2008 Bowl: Motor City Bowl vs. Central Michigan (W 24-21)
Coach: Howard Schnellenberger (48-48 at Florida Atlantic, 148-125-3 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Daryl Jackson
Defensive Coordinator: Kirk Hoza
Other Key Returnees: WR Chris Bonner, LB Edward Bradwell, TE Jamari Grant, CB Tarvoris Hill, TE Rob Housler, G David Matlock, G Kevin Miller, P Keegan Peterson, DT Josh Savidge, OT Lavoris Williams
Key Losses for FAU: LB George Allen, S Carldayle Brantley, LB Andre Clark, DE Michael Hancock, DT Jervonte Jackson, LB Frantz Joseph, S Greg Joseph, C Nick Paris, RB Charles Pierre, OT John Rizzo, CB Corey Small
The 2008 campaign could have been very special for Florida Atlantic. The Owls had a great quarterback and a dynamic offense and a very experienced defense. Just about everybody had Coach Howard Schnellenberger’s squad tabbed as the Sun Belt Conference champions before the season even started. While the Owls were not supposed to win non-conference road games against Texas, Michigan State or Minnesota, the team could have been better than 4-3 in conference play.
Florida Atlantic's Strengths:
But in the end FAU made it to a bowl game for the second straight year and won their bowl game for the second straight year. That is not bad for a team that has not been around very long. And Coach Schnellenberger hopes to make it three bowls in a row this year due to the return of the conference’s top quarterback, Rusty Smith. By this time next year the 6-5 Smith will be working out for the NFL, but for now the senior is looking for one more big season with the Owls. Last year he threw for 3,224 yards and 24 touchdowns. With superstar receiver Cortez Gent back and a few more experienced receiving options with Jamari Grant, Rob Housler and Chris Bonner, the passing attack should be the best in the conference again. And it might have to be with the absence of running backs Charles Pierre and Di’Ivory Edgecomb. Now it is up to Willie Rose and Alfred Morris to keep the offense somewhat balanced.
Florida Atlantic's Weaknesses:
The defense was a little disappointing last year. The group had a ton of experience, but still ranked fifth in the conference in total defense. And now they are without eight starters, including the team’s top six tacklers from a year ago. The biggest problem last year was generating pressure as the team only tallied one sack per game. There is no reason to believe the front four will do any better this year with three starters gone. All three starting linebackers have to be replaced, but Edward Bradwell, Malik Eugene and Michael Lockley are upperclassmen who should be able to step in and do a decent job. The strength of the defense is in the secondary where Ed Alexander leads the way. Alexander needs to quickly become the leader of the defense or FAU will have trouble stopping most teams in the Sun Belt.
The Bottom Line for the Owls:
By the end of the 2008 season Florida Atlantic started scoring points. The team only averaged just over 25 points per game on the season, but they averaged nearly 40 points per game over the last four regular season games. Smith will put up some big numbers and the offense will score a lot of points against conference opponents, but they might give up even more points.
By Joel Welser
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