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.


Season Opener Can’t Come Soon Enough

After nearly a month of preseason training camp and a full summer in the weight room the 2007 FAU Owls football team is more than ready to come together. Predictions should now be thrown by the wayside in lieu of battle on the gridiron for the first time since December’s Shula Bowl romp over FIU. Gone are three-a-days in burning late summer heat and quarterbacks deemed untouchable by their red jerseys. Now the time has come to prove to fans, naysayer and opponents that all the hard work was worth it. Soon the real fun begins.

“You don’t play this game to play against your teammates. You play it to play against other teams. And especially good teams like Middle Tennessee,” said defensive end Josh Pinnick.

There is an anxious energy surrounding the team. The players can’t wait for the season to begin.

“I’m ready for it. I wish it were today,” said quarterback Rusty Smith on Wednesday afternoon.

The anxiety is compounded by the fact that the game on Saturday is a big one. Middle Tennessee is coming off a Sun Belt Championship and features a tough defense and a dynamic offense. The winner will have the inside track to a championship this season. Players are calling Middle Tennessee their biggest rival due to the competitive nature of past games.

“The series is split two and two right now. They are a real physical team. It is going to be which team is more prepared to tough it out and win the game in the fourth quarter,” Pinnick said. “This is a high stakes game to open the season with.”

Expectations may never have been higher than they are this season for Coach Howard Schnellenberger and his rapidly maturing program. The Owls are now established in D-IA and are coming off a winning Sun Belt record (4-3) in just their second season in the league. This team is bigger, stronger and faster than any of its predecessors.

The program’s ascension, of course, mainly depends on the players on the field. The offense mixes experience, talent and youth led by Smith at quarterback. Charles Pierre leads a plethora of running backs that offer speed, power and lots of depth. The receivers are young and inexperienced but fast enough to make up for it. The offensive line was beaten down last season and looks to throw their weight around this year.

On defense, the linebackers bring firepower that hasn’t been seen around these parts since the glory days of Chris Laskowski and Shomari Earls. Frantz Simeon, Cergile Sincere and Andre Clark are arguably the best linebacker trio in the conference. Taheem Acevedo and Kris Bartels anchor the secondary and Pinnick and Jervonte Jackson rule the defensive line.

The Owls open this campaign with a general feeling around the team that this could be the year that the big non-conference upset occurs. Which power will be the first to fall? Minnesota? Perhaps Kentucky, Schnellenberger’s alma mater. Or revenge could be taken against Oklahoma State, which has beaten FAU in each of the past two seasons. Until that first win comes, FAU continues to take a modest approach, at least with the media.

“We have to look at it as advanced training. That we are training against teams that have been playing football a lot longer than those of us in the Sun Belt Conference…We are looking forward to the competition this year,” Schnellenberger said. Even if the upset doesn’t come this season, the Sun Belt title is still the goal.

“The kids always look forward to playing in the Sun Belt and seeing if we can develop to a point where we can compete for a championship,” he said.

Saturday can’t get here fast enough.

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