Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Owls look to fly this year, but wings may be already clipped

Their faces speak a thousand words. The faces of exhaustion, from both the heat and the two-a-day practices. Faces of concern and frustration and agony from nagging injuries they choose to play with. Yet the ball snaps once again, and again they are back to beating up on friends, roommates, and above all, teammates. It’s the summertime and the aforementioned expressive faces are on those of the Florida Atlantic Fighting Owls football team who’ve been playing offense versus defense scrimmages and participating in two two-hour practices daily, gearing up for the Aug. 29 match-up with Division I power South Florida.

The concern and frustration on their faces, however, does not speak of high anticipation of the up-coming season, nor does it express the accomplishment of progress made this summer. Instead, the dejected and frustrated looks tell the story of those who aren’t where they might need to be as the final scrimmage breaks and the season looms over the Owls. The long faces, full of pure frustration, disappointment and anger, like that which can be seen on tailback Anthony Jackson’s face, are a concern of self and team confidence.

Confidence. Something this team appears to have left behind as they head into quite possibly the toughest Division I-AA schedule in all the land this up-coming year.

The season begins with a strong challenge, as they travel to USF on Aug. 29. The Owls have a lot of speed, but the Golden Knights may have more. Yet with both Outland and Butkus nominees for best players lining up across the ball on the Owls offense, the low level of confidence among the players should be beaten to a pulp.

Despite the less than enthusiastic faces on the players, most coaches feel confident going into the season. “I was very concerned when I scheduled them,” Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger said of the South Florida match-up. “But I think the kids have progressed a great deal.”

Progressed or not, the team is banged up right now. Players with injuries littered the sidelines on their final scrimmage on Aug. 22 and with players playing with injuries, Schnellenberger and coaches shortened the scrimmage.

Despite the many injuries and players sidelined due to academic reasons, the defensive side of the ball seems ready. Tackling the offensive unit hard, knocking down passes in front of receivers and storming the offensive line, the defense appears to be where they need to be heading into week one.

The offense has been a different story entirely, though, and has been throughout the summer scrimmages. With the absence of running backs Dekolan James and Doug Parker, and also some banged up players on the offensive line, this can be expected, but the timing is poor. “Sure we’re concerned about it,” Schnellenberger said about the offense. “But I’ve been around kids like them a long time and know that one or two bad outings doesn’t mean much.”

Whether it’s bad outings or bad luck with injuries, the offense seems to be a major concern heading into the season. Offensive Coordinator Larry Sieple appeared very displeased after the final scrimmage, admitting that he didn’t see any bright spots whatsoever. “It’s hard. Every play we run, the defense knows what’s coming,” admitted running back and special teams star Anthony Jackson, pointing out that it’s hard to tell where the offense is at this point.

It may be hard seeing where the offense is, but the confidence and chemistry of the offensive unit seem to be a bit behind schedule. Then again, seeing flaws early and working out kinks in the offense and defense maybe a welcome opportunity for the young Owls team. “I’m just glad to be here. I’m happy to be playing out here everyday and with these guys. I think we’ll be ready for the season, it’s just hard to tell.” Jackson said. His frustrated and exhausted face, however, tells a different story.



The Owls have been running a lot of shotgun formations with inside handoffs and have also been running a lot of sweeps to the outside, trying to utilize the speed of their backs. Play-action passes seemed to be working out well with the offensive group. However, the timing of passes seems to be a bit off between the quarterbacks and receivers. Wide receiver Brittany Tellis was impressive in the final scrimmage, as well as Jackson, full back Eric Harper, receiver Larry Taylor, and tight end Dantson Dareus. Despite the inconsistencies, there’s no real need to worry yet about the offensive unit. Most offensive units lag behind defensive development because plays and personnel are more often being tinkered with prior to the start of the season.


Ramon Rickards and Jason Pugh have been impressive all summer. The Owls have been running a lot of 5-3 defenses and the defensive backs seem to be up on the ball more than they were last year. Mauratae Johnson has been a little bit banged up lately, but will again be an impact player in the Owls secondary. Playing and practicing with a lot of passion lately, the defense is fired up and hungry for the 2002 season.

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