FAU sees similarities between Michigan St., UAB

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

BOCA RATON Michigan State's defensive formations looked strangely familiar to Florida Atlantic quarterback Rusty Smith when he watched film of the Spartans this week.

Smith noticed many of the defensive looks employed by the Spartans were used by UAB in FAU's 49-34 victory against the Blazers last week. Smith hopes to use that to FAU's advantage when the Owls play Michigan State at noon Saturday in East Lansing, Mich.

"They run some things that are very similar," Smith said of the teams. " But Michigan State is bigger and more physical."

Unfortunately for Smith and the rest of the Owls, Michigan State is a much better team than UAB and beating a team from the Big Ten won't be easy.

"If we are going to have a chance to win, we will have to play 100 percent better than we did in the first two games," coach Howard Schnellenberger said. "I think that is doable."

However, the Spartans have struggled with stopping teams, ranking 86th in the nation in total defense and giving up 404.5 yards per game.

"If we go out there and play close to perfect football, we'll come out on top," said senior running back Charles Pierre, who rushed for 138 yards last week, the most for an Owl since they moved to Division I-A in 2005.