Owls' defensive leaders improving as they get experience

Special to The Palm Beach Post

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

BOCA RATON The maturation of two players - one new to Florida Atlantic's football program, the other a veteran - has fueled the Owls' defensive surge.

A transfer from Boston College, Frantz Joseph is beginning to dominate games from his middle linebacker spot, while senior Troy Pindell is finally playing with the intensity his coaches expected.

"Those are two good examples of what's happening on the defense," said coach Howard Schnellenberger, whose team is 3-1 in its past four games after an 0-4 start. "They are getting more playing time - training camp, on up through basic training, advanced training and into our league. Now they're getting the experience of winning."

Joseph felt like he played "two steps slow" during the early part of the season. Now midway through his redshirt-sophomore season, the transfer from Boston College has moved past analyzing his assignment and started reacting to the game.

"I think his knowledge of what we're doing has increased and it's allowed him to play at a tempo that's more consistent with the man we saw come out of Fort Lauderdale High School," defensive coordinator Kirk Hoza said.

Joseph replaced Brad Gagne as FAU's starting middle linebacker in the second game. Eight games into the season Joseph is the only Owl with at least 40 tackles, a sack, an interception and a fumble recovery.

"When you know what you're doing and you know where you're going, it's really fun," Joseph said. "You can make plays."

Pindell has always had the size and speed to play NCAA Division I-A football. This season the 6-foot-3, 203-pound defensive back is packing extra attitude into his frame.

"I'm trying to be more aggressive, trying to be a better tackler," said Pindell, a senior.

Pindell teamed up with Josh Pinnick for the first sack of his career Saturday against Arkansas State.

Line gets a break: Already missing a starter because of injury and another to suspension, FAU's offensive line received good news when right tackle John Rizzo was cleared to play. Rizzo sustained a neck stinger Saturday.