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2012 College Football Season Preview: FAU Owls
2011 Record: (1-11, 0-8 in Sun Belt)
Head Coach: Carl Pelini (first time Head Coach)
Last Bowl Game: 2008 Season Motor City Bowl: beat Central Michigan 24-21
Paying the Bills: 9/15 at Georgia; 9/22 at Alabama
Must Win: 8/31 vs Wagner; 10/20 at South Alabama
Swing Games: 9/8 at Middle Tennessee; 9/29 vs North Texas; 10/13 at ULM; ; 10/27 vs Troy
Stat to Cheer: Top three leading tacklers return (yes we are grasping here)
State to Fear: Averaged 12.9 points per game (119th in FBS)
Phil Steele's Returning Starters (Offense: 6; Defense: 8: Specialists: 1)
Key Defensive Returnees: LB David Hinds (101 tackles), LB Randell Johnson (91 tackles, 4 sacks), LB Andrae Kirk (89 tackles)
Key Offensive Returnees: WR DeAndre Richardson (32 receptions)
Inside Scoop with Ted Hutton of SunSentinel.com:
CFBZ: The Howard Schnellenberger era is over and Carl Pelini has taken over. What kind of first impression is he making at FAU?
Ted Hutton: Well, considering that FAU went 1-11 in Schnellenberger's final season, any new face would have made a good impression on FAU fans. So the bar was low for Carl Pelini, but he has done a good job since he has been here and won over the fans. He's been careful not to trash the former regime, especially since Schnellenberger is still around in his new role as fundraiser, but he has also made it clear that big changes were needed, and he has set about doing that. So far the fans are behind him and the spring went well. He's big on discipline, which this team needed, and he brought in eight new assistants that have brought new energy and new ideas, both of which were needed.
CFBZ: Coming off of just one win in 2011, what are the expectations for this season?
Ted Hutton: More good news for Pelini -- it would be really hard to play worse than the 2011 team, so again the bar is low. If FAU can win three games, I think the fans would be happy, especially considering the Pelini is implementing new offensive and defensive schemes and he not only inherited an awful team, but one that was formed around a pro-style offense. The fan base was traumatized by last season, so any sign that the team has turned things around will be welcomed. And that doesn't mean wins, it just means not getting embarrassed.
CFBZ: Who are some players that need to step to the forefront for the Owls to be more competitive this season?
Ted Hutton: FAU has to find a quarterback to run the spread that Pelini is implementing. That likely will be JUCO transfer Melvin German, since the holdovers were all recruited for Schnellenberger's pro-style offense. FAU also has little talent at wide receiver, and considering they need at least three to run the spread, that is a problem. Pelini signed a slew of JUCOs at every position after seeing what he had coming back, and they could have a major impact.
CFBZ: What would make this season a success in your eyes?
Ted Hutton: It's hard to imagine how far FAU has fallen, but 2-10 and being competitive in four of those losses would be a big step forward. Anything better than that would be considered overachieving. I can't tell you how bad the Owls were last year. Nearly every game was settled by halftime, and the only question was just how bad they were going to be beat.
The Howard Schnellenberger era came to a whimpering end in 2011 with the Owls winning just one game. The Owls record has decreased in four consecutive seasons but there isn't much chance of that happening this year. Look for the Owls to struggle again this year as Pelini rebuilds and searches for offensive playmakers.
2012 Prediction: 2-10
Get more great college football analysis over at College Football Zealots.