FAU looks to revamp defense

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Florida Atlantic's most important defensive stand in their 49-34 victory against UAB on Saturday wasn't keyed by a vicious tackle or eluding a block.

With the Blazers down 42-34 with less than a minute to go, a UAB receiver got past the FAU secondary and was wide open for a brief second.

UAB Quarterback Joe Webb saw his man but overthrew him and the ball fell harmlessly into the end zone.

FAU's defense had held, but it was only because of a UAB mistake instead of an FAU defender rising to the occasion.

The Owls (1-1) know they can't count on quarterbacks missing open receivers to be successful on defense and immediately began trying to correct their mistakes on Sunday as they prepare to face Michigan State (1-1) at noon Saturday in East Lansing, Mich.

"There were three throws that were behind us that were incomplete and that wasn't our doing, that was just them not executing.," FAU defensive coordinator Kirk Hoza said. "We have some work to do."

The Owls will revamp their defense and keep things simpler starting this week.

"I think we may be over-coaching." FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger said Sunday. "In order to get better execution we need to relieve them of the intricacies of our defense. This isn't anything new. When you aren't getting the results you need, you need to pare down whenever it's possible."

FAU's defense may not have been impressive against UAB, but its offense was quite good. Led by quarterback Rusty Smith, the Owls' had one of the best days in program history; the 554 total yards they amassed were a program high since moving to Division I-A

"Obviously the offense had a satisfying game, but the defense, conversely, had a tough time," Schnellenberger said.

"We're concerned because the defense hasn't been successful the first two games."