FAU seniors accept challenge of leading salvage job

Special to The Palm Beach Post

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

BOCA RATON If Florida Atlantic is going to salvage its season after a 1-5 start, the Owls' seniors will have to spark a change.

"The coaches are really putting a lot of pressure on us to really weed out every bad aspect of this team right now," said senior defensive end Michael Hancock.

Schnellenberger called a 15-minute senior's only meeting prior to Wednesday's practice, which Hancock said was one of several he's called this season. The Owls had no such meeting before last week's crucial loss to Troy that essentially knocked FAU out of contention for the Sun Belt title.

Though neither Schnellenberger nor Hancock would divulge specifics of the meeting, Hancock said the seniors are focusing on leading by example and becoming more vocal on and off the field. Though that's generally the goal of a senior class, the Owls' upperclassmen may have been a little lax earlier in the season.

"Maybe we thought there was more maturity in the younger guys," Hancock said. "As time goes by, the seniors really want to step up and take charge. We believe this is our team."

Sore Smith: If the shoulder injury suffered in the season's first game caused quarterback Rusty Smith to alter his throwing motion, not everyone saw a difference.

"Rusty looked good to me," wide receiver Cortez Gent said prior to Wednesday's practice. "I haven't noticed anything since he was supposed to have hurt his shoulder. That's up to him and the coaches and the training staff, I guess."

Smith suffered the injury to his non-throwing shoulder on August 30 while diving on a fumbled snap at Texas, but has started every game since. Smith's nine interceptions in this season's first six games equal his entire total from 2007.

Schnellenberger said Smith's shoulder is no longer sore.