Half a season to forget

SPORTS

Midway through the college football season, FAU has surprised its fans, and not in a good way.

Through six games, FAU boasts a measly 1-5 record and is 0-3 in conference fixtures. The record itself is bad enough, but even worse have been some of the team’s performances, not the least of which was the effort put forth in a loss to North Texas on Sept 25.

Not all is doom and gloom when it comes to Owls football, though. There have been promising individual performances, big plays that show the potential of the team and even a dramatic win.

Here’s a look back at some of the key moments and players from the first half of FAU’s season.

 

Biggest Win

FAU has only won one game so far, and while it wins this distinction by default, another victory would have been unlikely to unseat the dramatic 32-31 season-opening victory against UAB at Legion Field.

After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter, the Owls bounced back through two Jeff Van Camp passes to Lester Jean. FAU would again surrender the lead in the third, but a pick six by Brentley Harstad and a 43-yard reception by Willie Floyd brought the Owls within two.

Howard Schnellenberger’ s men went on to take a 32-31 lead through an Alfred Morris touchdown run with 2:20 to play in the game. With so little time left, it seemed the FAU had the game in the bag, but they endured one last scare.

UAB drove down the field, with the key play being a 50-yard rush by quarterback David Isabelle to the Owls’ 7 yard line. Then, with five second remaining, and as a potential game-winning field goal was kicked, linebacker Michael Lockley put up his mitten and swatted the ball away, giving FAU a win to start the season.

Winning in such a manner less than a year after giving up a then-record in yards allowed in that very stadium against UAB was just the icing on the cake.

Lockley said after the game: “It was great winning against them. They beat us down last year. We wanted to come in and show we can play with them and we did.”

 

Worst Play

If losing to a winless team isn’t bad enough, FAU lost its first (real) home game of the season to a team that had yet to record a win against the Owls. Ever.

The Owls’ 21-17 defeat to North Texas in the third game of the season (on Sept. 25) was not only a surprise to FAU faithful, it was a demoralizing Sun Belt Conference defeat. FAU may not have gotten blown out like it did against USF a week later, but losing such a winnable game to a Mean Green team that executed nearly the same offensive gameplan as it did in last year’ s bout – which FAU won – makes this the Owls’ toughest loss thus far.

 

Best Play

Wide receiver Lester Jean’s one-handed grab on a 77-yard bomb from Van Camp was amazing as it was crucial in the Owls’ season-opening victory against UAB.

Jean, who enjoyed a stellar performance that day with nine catches for 164 yards and two touchdowns, pulled FAU within a field goal in the second quarter of the game as he fought off what appeared to be pass interference, made an incredible catch and scampered into the endzone.

“I was just trying to make some plays to help the team win,” Jean said.

That 77-yard play is likely to be on FAU highlight reels for years to come, and deservedly so.

 

Projected Finish

At 1-5, the Owls’ aspirations of reaching a bowl game appear all but over. As for finishing about .500? That looks unlikely also.

FAU’s remaining schedule consists of games against typical national heavyweight Texas and reigning Sun Belt Conference champion Troy. The Owls will be big underdogs in both games, and based on the way they’ve been playing, wins are unlikely.

Victories are possible in the remaining four games, but with the way things are going, FAU is bound to drop one. With that said, the Owls should finish 3-9 — surely not the mark they wanted to make on their decade anniversary as a football program.

 

Team MVP

Quarterback Jeff Van Camp’s numbers might not be as impressive as last season’s, but if not for him this team could very well be winless.

Van Camp has not only made some big throws, such as his touchdown pass to Jean vs. UAB, but he has also done the little things which make a big difference. Unlike his predecessor Rusty Smith, Van Camp is able to scramble away from danger and is just as composed, if not more so, than the Tennessee Titan.

There has been a myriad of moments when Van Camp looked all but sacked, only for him to evade would-be tacklers before scrambling for positive yardage or getting a pass off.

NFL scouts would be crazy not to at least consider him as a potential selection in next spring’s NFL Draft.

 

Most Disappointing Player

There have been plenty of players worth of this accolade, but none more so than wide receiver Avery Holley.

Holley has yet to make his presence felt in this Owls’ offense this season, grabbing just 11 passes for 70 yards and no scores as a starter. His ineffectiveness hasn’t relieved pressure from counterpart Lester Jean and quarterback Jeff Van Camp, and that has been part of the reason the Owls are in the position they’ re in.

Making matters worse, Holley was suspended for this past weekend’ s game against Arkansas State for “conduct detrimental to the team.”

If Howard Schnellenberger is smart, he demotes Holley to at least third string once his suspension is up.

 

FAU Game breakdown and Calendar

9/02/10 FAU at UAB                               W, 32-31

9/11/10 FAU vs Michigan State               L, 30-17

9/25/10 FAU vs. North Texas                   L, 21-17

10/02/10 FAU at USF                               L, 31-3

10/09/10 FAU at ULM                               L , 20-17

10/23/10 FAU at Arkansas State              L, 37-16

10/30/10 FAU vs FIU (Homecoming)       4:00pm

11/06/10 FAU at Western Kentucky         4:30pm

11/13/10  FAU vs. ULL                             7:00pm

11/20/10 FAU at Texas                               TBA

11/27/10 FAU at MTSU                            3:29pm

12/04/10 FAU vs. Troy                             2:00pm