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.


Offensive Slump Worsens in Loss

Murfreesboro, Tenn. – Now things are dire. Now the Owls’ problems have carried over into Sun Belt play. Is Owls time over?

This conference opener was supposed to be a new beginning after a poor start to this season of title defense, but the offensive chemistry from last season is gone. It resurfaced briefly against Alabama-Birmingham, but that appears to have been an aberration.

In the latest and most tragic example, Middle Tennessee played worse than an FAU team that played pretty close to awful on offense all game. Then, a touchdown with 5:22 left brought MTSU within three. FAU rebounded and made a field goal to stretch their lead to six. With a minute left, MTSU began a drive that ended with a successful Hail Mary pass – sealing the fate that the Owls actually deserved.

“That was pre-ordained in heaven,” says FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger.

Four turnovers were the lowlights of a stagnant offense that received an initial jump-start from a 53-yard DiIvory Edgecomb touchdown run on the game’s first drive. That early play proved to be the offensive highlight for the Owls.

Obviously, the memorable moment of this game wass Joe Craddock’s hurl that miraculously found a home in Malcolm Beyah’s hands as the clock turned to 0:00.

“Everybody in the United States does that whenever they get in that situation. I’ve seen that a lot,” Schnellenberger says of the desperation throw.

It was an unbelievable moment for Middle Tennessee. The remaining fans erupted; the normally quiet press box went up in gasps and cheers. The Blue Raiders stormed the end zone in euphoric celebration. The Owls slumped to the locker room in disbelief.

“We’ve got to regroup, move on,” said safety Ed Alexander, who was one of the Owls’ defenders fleeced on the final play. I have to disagree with Alexander: FAU should dwell on this one, remember the pain and correct the mistakes.

The ending hurt badly, but if FAU would have won this game, it simply would have masked the fact that the offense has real problems. Maybe such a crushing loss will bring to light what has gone wrong, not that the opponent was one that was supposedly inferior to FAU.

Quarterback Rusty Smith has been pressured more than last season, a sign of the absence of center Nick Paris to a foot injury. As a result, a hurried Smith is being forced to make quicker decisions. The problem isn’t reflected in the sack total, because Smith is getting the ball away, he just isn’t making the same crisp, accurate throws he was making last season. Add the fact that receivers aren’t making plays, especially in the red zone, and you have yourself an offensive slump.

As the leader of this team, Smith must return to form before the Owls can go anywhere. As usual, this loss can’t be pinned solely on him. But if FAU wants to turn this around, they’ll need some vastly improved play from the quarterback position.

“We’ve just got to overcome it, overcome it real quick,” Edgecomb says.

It is hard to believe that the Owls got fat and happy and have slacked off. It’s hard to believe that hard workers like Smith and defensive leader Frantz Joseph would allow such a scenario. But as the losses mount, the questions persist.

What is wrong with the Owls? Was last season a fluke? Can anybody step up and fix this thing, before it’s too late?

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