Howard Schnellenberger lays into FAU players after loss

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Friday, October 03, 2008

BOCA RATON Finally, it was time.

Time for Howard Schnellenberger, in his words, to treat FAU like "a big-league football team."

So he gathered his team in the Oxley Center on Thursday, less than 48 hours after Tuesday's demoralizing 14-13 loss at Middle Tennessee and chewed them out.

The FAU coach stressed "they absolutely should be mad" at themselves, at each other, at the secondary for allowing the winning touchdown on a 32-yard Hail Mary with no time remaining, at the quarterback and at the turnovers.

Mad at "what the hell happened."

"I've chewed a lot of football teams out but this is the first time I felt that it was my responsibility to take the hard line (at FAU)," he said. "This is what they needed. They're grown men now. They have enough ability to win and we didn't."

As for his players, none was surprised to see Schnellenberger snap.

"He hasn't really reacted that way," cornerback Corey Small said, "but I can understand where he's coming from."

Said quarterback Rusty Smith, whose six interceptions and no touchdown passes in the past two games have dropped him to 100th in the nation in passing efficiency: "When you lose a game like that in that fashion you expect that."

Smith would not reveal the details of Schnellenberger's message but when told the coach said he was harder on his team - or any other at FAU - Smith said: "He was."

"For a team as mature as we are we have to be able to win a football game like that," Smith said. "We've been on ESPN before. We've beaten that team before. We have everybody coming back except for a couple."

Smith said Friday that the Owls (1-4, 0-1 Sun Belt) are trying to move on and concentrate on Tuesday night's home opponent - Troy (2-2, 0-1) - but added that it has been hard to shake the emotions from the past three days.

"To lose like that is the worst way you can ever lose," said cornerback Tavious Polo, who was part of the scrum around receiver Malcolm Beyah as he caught Joe Craddock's 32-yard pass that tied the score at 13. The extra point was the difference.

"I just remember seeing the ball up, us going up for it," Polo said. "He just jumped up and had a great leap and grabbed it."

The Blue Raiders were held scoreless until their final two drives, both resulting in touchdowns.

"I have to be upset about it because we didn't score enough points," Schnellenberger said. "But I'm happy we moved the ball on offense and we didn't let them move the ball on defense for a long period of time."