Coming off back-to-back bowl wins, the Owls look to claim the top of the Sun Belt Conference this upcoming season. The Owls are returning the conference’s top play caller in senior, Rusty Smith which means a lot of points will be scored on offense for FAU. On the flip side, the defense is a question mark with giving up an average of 400 yards a game and over 150 rushing yards a game.
Legendary coach Howard Schnellenberger will be looking to Smith and company to carry the Owls into the 2009 season. Smith will be surrounded by solid offensive weapons in WR Chris Bonner, WR Cortez Gent, TE Jamari Grant and TE Rob Housler. Last season, this passing attack was the best in the conference and contributed to over 3,000 yards receiving and 24 touchdowns through the air.
Their running game is a different story. They lose their leading rusher, Charles Pierre and then Jeff Blanchard goes down with a torn ACL, means the Owls might be struggling in the running game in the 2009 season. Willie Floyd would be next in line and aside from playing in every game his freshman year, he has only seen playing time in seven games in the past two years. A bright spot in the backfield is FB Willie Rose who is can block and also get out in the flats to catch passes.
The defense enters this season with 8 starters who will not be suiting up. Almost the entire starting interior front is gone, the linebacking core is young, but the secondary could hold this unit together. They are experienced at the corners with Tavious Polo, Tarvoris Hill and Ed Alexander at free safety. The key for the Owls defense is to get pressure up front. On average the team only had 1 sack per game and will most of the starters gone from a year ago it might be difficult to be successful up front right away.
The overall success of the season will depend on the Owls defense. There is no doubt that their offense will be able to produce big numbers and be able to put up a lot of points. If their defense can’t learn how to pressure the QB and stop the running game it could be a long season for FAU.
’09 Prediction: 7-5