Owls look to get into win column



By Mario Sarmento

A week after losing 52-10 to No. 10 Texas, FAU is home for the first time this season against UAB.

Kickoff is at 4 p.m. Saturday at Lockhart Stadium.

“I think all of our players have great upside if they can play a lot better than they did this last game,” Owls coach Howard Schnellenberger said.

Last week, the FAU offense mounted two long first half drives, but was unable to score.

One drive ended when the center snap went over quarterback Rusty Smith’s head, and the other was stopped when Smith had a pass tipped and intercepted in the end zone.

The Owls also couldn’t establish a running game, gaining just 70 yards on 23 carries.

Much of that was dictated by the flow of the game, but Schnellenberger hopes to make the run a key part of the FAU offense this Saturday.

“We’d like to start out keeping it balanced, because that’s the way we like our offense,” he said.

Kevin Miller will get the start in place of David Matlock at center.

Matlock started last week for injured Nick Paris, who is out until the end of the month with strained ligaments in his foot.

“It’ll be a tough matchup,” Miller said of UAB. “We’re not taking anybody lightly. It’s still going to be a fight in the trenches.”

But while FAU was able to move the ball against Texas initially, its defense wasn’t able to stop Colt McCoy and the Longhorns.

McCoy passed for 222 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 103 yards and another in a near flawless performance.

UAB quarterback Joe Webb poses a similar threat out of the spread offense the Blazers run, as he ran for 136 yards and completed 17-of-31 passes for 169 yards and two TDs in last week’s 45-22 loss to Tulsa.

“He’s going to be a guy who needs to be slowed down, if not stopped, particularly in the running game,” Schnellenberger said.

The Blazers were outscored 24-0 in the second half, which Schnellenberger attributed to Tulsa “executing.”

The Owls are further hampered by the loss of their other starting defensive end, Jermaine Council, who was injured in the Texas game. Senior Julian Myers will start in his place, while Robert St. Clair still has not recovered from offseason knee surgery.

Even though this is not a conference game, Schnellenberger knows it’s an important one. FAU is in the middle of a tough stretch, as UAB is the only home game in a month for the Owls, who play at Michigan State, at Minnesota and at conference rival Middle Tennessee State the next three weeks.

“Really important,” Schnellenberger said. “Two losses is the beginning of a string, and you don’t want a string of losses. So it behooves us to win this game.”