Boca Raton - Just in case his teammates might forget who the Owls face in a little more than two weeks, defensive lineman Josh Savidge offers frequent reminders during practice.

" Nebraska," he yells, "Got to be ready for Nebraska."

Savidge is one of just two senior starters on the defense and the only one who has been four-year starter, and thus is expected to be the unit's leader.

That role is even more important given the inexperience of the defense, which returns three starters.

"It is a match made in heaven," coach Howard Schnellenberger said about having the leadership role handed to Savidge (6-2, 285).

And it is a role Savidge relishes.

"Honestly, the greatest feeling in the world is being the omly senior lineman, the senior leader that they are lookup up to," Savidge wrote in his biography for FAU's football media guide.

"It is awesome to be the guy who my teammates want to follow into battle. It is the most incredible feeling in the world."

And the players want to play well for Savidge.

"He's a senior and we want this season to be big for him. He's been here a long time and done a lot for this team," said defensive tackle Dino Cox.

Savidge has done a lot, starting as a true freshman in 2005 and playing in every game in three seasons, and four in 2007 before a knee injury in the fourth game forced him to get a medical redshirt.

He has played in 40 games and if he stays injury free, will leave FAU with a record of 32 or 53 games played that will be tough to top.

The defense, which was expected to struggle due to its inexperience, if off to a strong start in preseason camp.

The defense dominated the offense in the first scrimmage on Saturday, and that has put a jump in their step and they have looked sharp this week in practice while the offense still seems out of synch.

"We can keep this up. Esprit de corps, like coach [Rod] Payne says," Savidge said. Payne, the defensive tackles coach who joined the FAU staff before spring practices, is credited with bringing new energy and new emphasis on techniques to the defensive line.

The line, bolstered by the play of Kevin Cyrille and Daniel Joseph on the ends, looked good in the spring and better in the first scrimmage.

They put pressure on the quarterback and helped disrupt the run despite having three new starters.

Who will start at tackle beside Savidge is still in flux, as Cox (6-3, 260) and Jarvis Givens (6-3, 305) are in a battle for that spot, and will be joined by Andy Czuprynski (6-5, 255) when he returns from an ankle injury.