NCAA Football

2011 College Football Preview: FAU Owls

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2010 Record: (4-8, 3-5 in Sun Belt)

Head Coach: Howard Schnellenberger (57-63 at FAU, 157-140-3 All-Time)

Last Bowl Game: 2008 Season Motor City Bowl: beat Central Michigan 24-21


9/3: at Florida

9/10: at Michigan State (2010 result: lost 30-17)

9/24: at Auburn

10/1: at Louisiana (2010 result: won 24-23)

10/8: at North Texas (2010 result: lost 21-17)

10/15: Western Kentucky (2010 result: won 17-16)

10/22: Middle Tennessee (2010 result: lost 38-14)

11/5: Arkansas State (2010 result: lost 37-16)

11/12: at FIU (2010 result: won 21-19)

11/19: at Troy (2010 result: lost 44-7)

11/26: UAB (2010 result: won 32-31)

12/3: Louisiana-Monroe (2010 result: lost 20-17)

2010 Offensive Statistics:

Scoring: 16.8 ppg (last in Sun Belt, 113th in Nation)

Rushing Yds/Game: 95.0 yds/game (last in Sun Belt, 115th in Nation)

Passing Yds/Game: 207.7 yds/game (5th in Sun Belt, 69th in Nation)

Total Yds/Game: 302.7 yds/game (last in Sun Belt, 107th in Nation)

2010 Defensive Statistics:

Scoring: 29.3 ppg (3rd in Sun Belt, 79th in Nation)

Rushing Yds/Game: 205.17 yds/game (8th in Sun Belt, 107th in Nation)

Passing Yds/Game: 196.1 yds/game (1st in Sun Belt, 29th in Nation)

Total Yds/Game: 401.3 yds/game (7th in Sun Belt, 85th in Nation)

2010 Misc Stats:

Turnover Margin: -0.75 per game (8th in Sun Belt, 108th in Nation)

Penalties: 61.5 yds/game (6th in Sun Belt, 101st in Nation)

Returning Starters:

Offense: 7

Defense: 5

Kicker/Punter: 1

Top Returning Statistical Leaders:

Passing: QB Jeff Van Camp, Sr (191 of 334 for 2451 yds, 17 TD, 13 INT)

Rushing: RB Alfred Morris, Sr (228 for 928, 4.07 ypc, 7 TD)

Receiving: WR DeAndre Richardson, Soph (12 rec for 114 yds)

Tackles: DB Marcus Bartels, Sr (102)

Sacks: DE/LB Cory Henry, Soph (5)

Interceptions: DB Marcus Bartels, Sr (2)

FAU has been playing college football since Howard Schnellenberger helped to build the program in 2001. They lost in their very first game back in 2001 to Slippery Rock by a score of 40-7. The Owls have come a long way since that game ans they put back to back winning seasons together in 2003/2004 and also in 2007/2008. The last two years have seen FAU take a slight step back as they went from 7-6 in 2008 to 5-7 in 2009 to 4-8 in 2010.

What will 2011 bring for the Owls? For one thing it brings a schedule that starts off really rough. The Owls go on the road for the first five games- the first three of which are against the likes of Florida, Michigan State and defending National Champion Auburn. After those games it's on to Sun Belt Conference play as Schnellenberger tries to lhelp this team bounce back from their sixth place conference finish after finishing in the top 3 for the first four years in the conference. We talked to Ted Hutton of the Sun Sentinel to get a peak at the 2011 version of the FAU Owls. Make sure you check out his on-line blog, FAU Sports, and you call also follow him on twitter @fauscribe.

After finishing 4-8 last season, what are the biggest deficiencies from last year that FAU needs to correct going into the 2011 season?

There are a bunch, the most pressing being the offensive line. Due to a key injury and a transfer, last year's line had just one player who had any playing time. The line was basically a bunch of untested rookies who also lacked the size and strength to compete. It was a disaster, and the offense barely averaged 300 yards per game because of that.

The defense ran its string of allowing more than 400 yards a game to four as it continued to have problems handling the spread option offenses it sees in about every game.

What are the general thoughts around campus on Howard Schnellenberger. He helped build the program from scratch but is he still the right guy to help take this program to the next level?

FAU is building a new on-campus stadium and will host its first true "home" game on Oct. 15. That stadium would not exist without Howard Schnellenberger, who made it a priority since he started the program, which played its first game in 2001. Schnellenberger, who is 77, is beloved because of all he has done for the program, and for the success it had so early (I-AA semifinals in year 3, Sun Belt champion and New Orleans Bowl winner in 2007, Motor City Bowl champion in 2008). Yet the Owls are heading in the wrong direction, and if they have another lackluster season, FAU and Schnellenberger could part ways. His contract is up at the end of 2011, and he will have seen his dream of playing in an on-campus stadium come to fruition.

For those that don't follow the Sun Belt that closely...tell us a little about the best players on this team.

Running back Alfred Morris is a power runner with surprising speed and agility. He was the conference rushing champion in 2009 with 1,392 yards, but his numbers dropped due to the woeful offensive line he had in front of him last season.

As a freshman, defensive end Cory Henry had a solid year in 2010. He was moved to linebacker in the spring as FAU is changing to a 3-4 to try and slow down the spread, and he had a huge spring and could be a dominant force. He is paired with Randell Johnson on the outside, and Johnson also had an outstanding spring.

What areas might we see newcomers come in and immediately help this year?

The defense looks set and it is unlikely a rookie will break into the lineup. On offense there is a chance for a wide receiver, since the pool of candidates for that job has just one player who has made a catch in college.

Looking at the schedule, what are the most important games for FAU this year?

Because the Owls' new stadium won't be completed until Oct. 15, FAU is on the road for the first five games, and the season has a brutal start with games at Florida, Michigan State and Auburn. So the first important game will at Louisiana-Lafayette Oct. 1, when the Owls will see how they stand versus a Sun Belt teams. Oct. 15 is obviously huge, as it will be the christening of the new stadium. Then there is the annual Shula Bowl Nov. 12 versus rival FIU.

What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?

I expect another 4-8 season. The offensive line didn't look all that improved this spring, and the lack of receivers is a big problem for the offense. It looks like FAU will try and pound the ball on the ground with Morris leading the way.

If the new 3-4 defense can help hold teams below 400 yards a game, and if the offensive line can allow Morris some room, the Owls might reach 6-6, and that would be a very successful season given where they stand now.

Next Preview: Idaho Vandals

2011 Team Previews

C-USA- Houston

MAC- Buffalo , Central Michigan, Temple

MWC- UNLV, Wyoming

Sun Belt- North Texas