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2 week Layoffs. What layoffs?

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2 week Layoffs. What layoffs?

Owls work to stay sharp


Published Sunday, October 3, 2004
by Hannon Deutsch


Howard Schnellenberger and his troops have experienced deja vu over the past few weeks. The fact that the Florida Atlantic University football team has been practicing without having played a game since Sept. 18 makes it feel like training camp all over again.
?That will be the extent of the hitting for this second training camp that we had here during this two-week period,? Schnellenberger said after Saturday?s practice. ?It?s almost like going to a bowl game when you have a two-week break.?<br>Although the Owls can?t play in a bowl game this season because of their transition from Division I-AA to I-A, they are playing as if the Sun Belt Conference title was on the line. FAU, which has jumped out to a 3-0 start, has not played a game since a 27-20 victory against Middle Tennessee State on Sept. 18. Hurricane Jeanne postponed the Owls? following game, and home opener, against Illinois State until Nov. 20.
?It?s not really a break with this team,? senior linebacker Chris Laskowski said. ?It?s more of a return to training camp. I think it helps to get these young guys a lot more playing time on the field.?<br>There are two ways to look at the time off between games, which will be three weeks by the time the Owls travel to play Texas State next Saturday.
First, the extra time not only allows players to heal injuries, but it also gives coaches a chance to work on different plays that normally would not have been in the regular practice schedule. During Thursday and Friday?s practice, the Owls spent extra time working on the screen, weak side sweep and special teams.
?It gives us some time to examine the inventory and see what needs to be restocked,? Schnellenberger said. ?If we got one of these every three games it wouldn?t be all that bad. We need to get a lot better on our quick screens and our weak side sweep. In the kicking game it gave us an opportunity to put in another kickoff return, punt return and another way to block a punt.?
Senior defensive lineman Johnnie Sloan has been battling an infection in his right ankle. Sloan, who said an air cast caused his ankle to get infected, is one player who has welcomed the time off. The Owls? leading rusher, Doug Parker, has been out with an injury to his toe.
?We need the rest,? said Sloan, who will practice on Tuesday. ?We?re getting some players back from injuries. Playing each other like this everyday makes us want to go out and play someone else even more.?<br>Added Laskowski: ?We were on the road three weeks in a row and maybe we need a break from that. We get back on the road for two more weeks then come back home and we?ll be refreshed.?<br>On the other side of the ball, the extra time can pose a different problem of sorts. The coaching staff has been working to refresh the players? muscle memory, which can sometimes be slowed down because the practices are not at game speed.
?We haven?t played at full speed, which is even faster than the practice games,? Schnellenberger said. ?You?re afraid that you lose your sharpness and that?s why we have had two scrimmages since last Wednesday.
Sharpness has enabled the Owls to beat three I-A teams to begin the season. According to Laskowski, the brief hiatus won?t affect the Owls? stride one iota.
?We?re not going to take it easy, we?re just going to keep going hard,? Laskowski said. ?It?s a lot more fun playing games than being out here practicing. We were rolling when we stopped and we?ll be rolling when we come back.?<br>
O?Connor back in the saddle
On Wednesday it was announced that running backs coach David Dunn resigned to take over a head coaching position for the first time. Dunn will take the helm at Becker College, which is located in Worcester, Mass.
Fred O?Connor, who has handled the running backs, wide receivers and quarterbacks in the past, will assume Dunn?s responsibilities. O?Connor has been self-scouting on the sidelines as a special assistant to the coaching staff. The Owls won?t miss a beat because O?Connor, who has 30 years of coaching experience, knows the strengths and weaknesses of all the backs.
?He?s been with me since the beginning,? Schnellenberger said. ?It?s great that we have a stockpile of coaches that we can bring one out of the surplus.?
The fact that there will be no adjustment period on both sides really helps the Owls.
?I know the techniques they need to improve upon,? said O?Connor, who has coached Walter Payton and O.J. Simpson in the NFL. ?We?re working on the decision making and their blocking for the best running success. I?m happy to be back on the field in a more constant basis.?
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2 week Layoffs. What layoffs?

This is good if it keeps them sharp vs Texas State.

Based on that practice scenerio and preparation, If they come out the way they did against Hawaii for the 1st game, it should be a good hard hitting contest.
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