Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 13, 2008
EAST LANSING, MICH. — Florida Atlantic has held many practices in rainy conditions, including two pre-season workouts during Tropical Storm Fay, but that didn't seem to help the Owls on Saturday.
"I was flabbergasted and I'm still flabbergasted," FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger said when asked if he was surprised how much the steady downpour slowed his team in a 17-0 loss to Michigan State. "It was totally out of character."
The rain virtually eliminated FAU's passing attack.
A one point Owls quarterback Rusty Smith, who was 8-of-34 passing for 143 yards, threw 12 consecutive incompletions.
"We were not able to handle the elements today," Smith said. "It rained all day. It's not like we haven't practiced in it before. We just weren't able to do what we wanted to do out there today."
Schnellenberger said he could tell Smith was struggling with the wet, heavy footballs. Because each offense provides its own footballs, Schnellenberger said FAU will bring more footballs to games played in the rain.
"We brought 12 balls and we needed about 50 if we going to keep them all dry," Schnellenberger said. "This gives us a reason for us to bring 50 to 100 balls to games like this."
Perhaps Michigan State had a better game plan. Knowing rain was forecast, the Spartans dunked footballs in water during practices last week.
FAU nearly got off to a fast start on its first drive when senior running back Charles Pierre hit a large hole and ran down the sideline for what appeared to be a 74-yard touchdown run. The play, however, called back because of a holding penalty.
"I think if we would have scored that would have given us some momentum," said Pierre, who finished with 57 yards on 12 carries. "Moments like this make me think that if I had scored that touchdown how different this game could have been."
The flag was on wide receiver Cortez Gent, who admitted he should have thrown a cleaner block.
"I grabbed him at the last second but it wasn't anything like I stopped him from running," Gent said. "That was a big play and I hurt the team. If we jumped out 7-0 there's no telling what kind of ballgame this would have been."
Been through the Ringer
Michigan State senior running back Javon Ringer had career highs with 282 yards rushing and 43 attempts.
"He made a lot of good moves and he found his holes when they came," FAU defensive tackle Jervonte Jackson said. "He was very patient, and when he saw the outside, he just took it."
Schnellenberger was impressed, not only with Ringer, but with the Spartans' offensive line.
"I think he's very good and very blessed to be operating behind those five guys," Schnellenberger said. "That's the big problem, having to sort through those five big guys to find where he is.
"When they all come off at one time they look like a herd of water buffalo stampeding at you and there's a gazelle somewhere in behind them."