But he also has a habit of trying to run you over. I'd say that's to our advantage.
The QB likes to stay in the pocket and can take a hit. He is not too mobile but he has good pocket presence.
The WR's have a couple of burners but the QB don't have much time to get them the ball.
It should be a good test for our team to bounce back.
Rattlers to reunite with old friends, foes vs. FAU
By St. Clair Murraine
DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER
Edward Kwaku spent part of the offseason working out with childhood friend Dantson Dareus.
They'd do a little trash-talking during and after each workout. It's been that way since they played for Miami Norland High School.
On Saturday, they'll meet in a game where the statistics really matter - with Kwaku at cornerback for Florida A&M and Dareus at tight end for Florida Atlantic University. They'll take their rivalry to another level in a game that matches several other FAMU players against former high-school teammates and rivals from South Florida.
But the outcome could be determined by the performance of the FAMU secondary, which plans to put a bull's-eye on the Owls' go-to targets.
Kwaku hopes he'll get to go one-on-one at least once with Dareus, who has seen sporadic action as a receiver.
"The day has come for us to play each other," he said. "It's going to be good. I just can't wait. … I'm going to do what I have to do. I'm going to have to play him tough. I have to play him tougher than any other receiver, because I know he's coming for bragging rights."
The Rattlers (3-5) turned their attention to the once-beaten (5-1) Owls' passing game earlier this week in practice, although for some players the focus has been on numbers more than names. For example, safety Sam Doughty is honed in on No.84, tight end Anthony Crissinger-Hill.
Crissinger-Hill is coming into Saturday's game with 40 catches for 583 yards as the Owls' leading receiver. He averages 14.6 yards per catch, with three touchdowns.
"We just have to play him like we've played everybody else," said Doughty, who leads the Rattlers' defense with 65 tackles. "People are going to underestimate us, and this is a chance for us to show the world."
Doing that would require stopping any drives that gets the Owls into the red zone, though. FAMU has allowed its eight opponents to score 35 times on 41 drives that got inside the 20.
Most of those strikes have been against four DivisionI-A schools, especially on passing plays. But coach Billy Joe said the secondary has been showing an increasing ability to check off offenses.
"We have a bend-but-don't-break mentality," he said. "We have given up some big passes, but once we get into the red zone we have the ability to constrict the field and play real tough defense. We still have some work to do, and we're still a work in progress."
The Rattlers' secondary has accounted for five of the seven interceptions the team has made this season. Most of the times the takeaways came when the defense needed a rest, said linebacker Michael Foreman.
"They protect us a whole lot," Foreman said. "When we get tired or whatever, we can depend on them. … They really help us out a whole lot. They'll step up and let you know we'll hit you and play hard."
Foreman is another FAMU player who will be going against an old nemesis. Running back Doug Parker is the one Foreman has marked. He has 579 yards on 125 carries in six games, but Parker's stats aren't what stand out for Foreman.
Foreman, who played at Palm Beach Lakes, said he remembers an illegal hit by Parker in a high-school game against Parker's Atlantic High. That's inspiration enough to play one of his best defensive games, Foreman said.
"I never thought I'd have the opportunity to play (Parker) again," Foreman said. "I finally got the opportunity. I'm going to make sure I take care of what I need to take care of."
If he doesn't, he's confident that his secondary can.
Sharpe looks ahead to FAU game
By Heath A. Smith
DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER
FloridaA&M junior running back Paul Sharpe would love to take bragging rights back home to Apopka with a victory against Florida Atlantic at home Saturday.
Sharpe's boyhood friend and high-school teammate at Apopka High, Chris Shepard, is a starting offensive guard for Florida Atlantic.
"We've known each other for a long time," said Shepard, whose Florida Atlantic team comes to Bragg Stadium with a 5-1 record. "In fact, we worked out over the summer in Tallahassee together."
During their summer workouts, the two didn't mince words.
"He (Shepard) said they had a solid running back and they were going to run behind him," Sharpe said. "I told him I planned on running behind our O-line, too.
"We've been talking about this game for a long time. Before we even knew that we were going to play each other I would tell him that we would beat them and he would say that they would beat us. We'll get to find out who was right on Saturday."
While Sharpe is confident that the 3-5 Rattlers will prevail against Florida Atlantic, he conceded that the Owls have come along away in their four-year existence as a football program.
Florida Atlantic, a provisional Division I-A program this season, has made the quickest transition from Division I-AA to I-A in NCAA history.
After reaching the DivisionI-AA playoffs last season, the Owls started off this season with wins against established Division I-A opponents Hawaii and North Texas en route to five consecutive victories before coming up short last week against Louisiana-Monroe.
"They are a different team now than they were a couple of years ago," Sharpe said. "They are very well-coached. We just have to go out there, play ball and have some fun.
"I talked to him (Wednesday), and he was telling me about a couple of our defensive players he was ready to jump on. He just told me to have fun and ball out. We have a lot of people from Apopka coming to this game."
Sharpe wouldn't mind if his friends and family from Apopka got the chance to see him get to run the ball more Saturday. Sharpe shed more than 20 pounds this summer and worked on becoming a more elusive runner.
The results have been positive as Sharpe leads the team with a 6.3 yards per carry average as junior Rashard Pompey's backup, but he has only carried the ball 25 times this season.
"I'm happy with the way I'm playing," said Sharpe, who has rushed 158 yards and a touchdown this season. "I just wish we were running it a little bit more. Hopefully, we'll get the opportunity to run the ball more this game."
Sharpe said he isn't complaining about not getting the ball more, but he thinks he and Pompey could be doing more to help the team.
"Against some teams there have been more opportunities to run out of a two-back set," Sharpe said. "I think if we used more two-back sets we could take our game to another level."
By Marcus Nelson
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 29, 2004
This was supposed to have been a year of celebration for Florida A&M University.
The Rattlers had hoped to be complete its move to Division I-A this season, becoming the first historically black school to play at college football's highest level.
Instead, 2004 will go down as one of the lowest points in FAMU's proud history. The Rattlers have become the only program that has failed at its attempt to move to I-A. On the field, FAMU hasn't fared much better.
In games vs. Illinois, Tulane, Temple and Virginia Tech, the Rattlers have been outscored 191-39. Those games were scheduled by FAMU in hopes that it would be also be a I-A team.
"This schedule is really over our head, but we're happy just to have a schedule," said FAMU coach Billy Joe. "We've got 11 games, but now we don't like that 11-game schedule."
In 2003, the Rattlers began their transition process to move to I-A, but earlier this year, the school changed its mind and abandoned its plan to move to I-A.
The biggest reason was money. An examination of finances revealed hat FAMU could not afford to make the move.
"It was primarily a financial decision," said Alberto Cardenas, a member of the FAMU Board of Trustees. "Admittedly, we decided to not try and make the move until we got the financial house in order."
Other schools that are attempting to move to I-A ? such as Florida Atlantic and Florida International ? are primarily concerned with the NCAA's attendance requirement of an average of 15,000 fans per game.
Last season, FAMU drew an average of 21,323 for its three games at Bragg Stadium and sometimes three times that many for some of the many "classic" games held in neutral cities common among historically black schools. FAMU's game in the Florida Classic vs. Bethune-Cookman drew 73,358 fans to the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. Under NCAA rules, schools are allowed to count one off-campus game a season toward the attendance minimum.
FAMU would also have had trouble scheduling I-A teams to play in Tallahassee, which takes money. Unlike FAU and FIU, who were invited to join the Sun Belt Conference, FAMU was attempting to move to I-A as an independent. Being in a conference provides at least four home games a year vs. league opponents.
The costs were adding up and when a supposed lucrative deal with the Urban Broadcasting Network to televise the Rattlers' football games didn't pan out, FAMU President Fred Gainous recommended that the move to I-A be "indefinitely postponed."
"Our president didn't cancel our move, he postponed it until another time when he thought we would be ready," Joe said.
The situation was a leading factor in Gainous being fired last month. Gainous did not return a call seeking comment.
The retreat back into I-AA set the stage for a rough 2004 season for FAMU.
Canceling the games against the I-A opponents was not an option. FAMU needed the guarantee money for its struggling athletic department, which had run up a deficit of $700,000.
Saturday, the Rattlers will face FAU and at the end of the season, will face FIU ? giving FAMU six games against teams that are I-A or transitioning into I-A.
In a season full of disappointments, a 62-0 loss to Virginia Tech earlier this month might have been the low point.
"This has been a season full of positives and negatives," said junior defensive end Altariq Brown, a Jupiter High School graduate. "It's good experience and exposure to play in front of those big crowds, but it's tough. It seems like there have been a lot of distractions this year."
The school also admitted to 196 rules violations and has had several players declared academically ineligible by the NCAA.
"I am waiting for the bleeding to stop," Joe said.
But things could be improving for FAMU.
In August, Joseph Ramsey was hired as the school's first permanent athletic director in two years, and the Rattlers will be allowed back into the I-AA Mid Eastern Athletic Conference next season.
"We'll play a full MEAC schedule and that will be a welcome return," Joe said.
And FAMU has not given up on its dream of making it to I-A.
"It all depends on our ability to get the dollars that will allow us to make that leap," Cardenas said. "But I believe we'll get there."
Building from scratch
Raise millions of dollars, hire coaches and convince recruits that FAU will be the next power in the state. Schnellenberger's promises are becoming realities.
By Heath A. Smith
DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER
That was the response Florida Atlantic junior offensive lineman Chris Shepherd usually got a couple of years ago when he told anyone where he was playing football.
It's hard to blame any college football fan outside of South Florida for being a little confused when somebody starts talking about Florida Atlantic football. The Boca Raton university just started playing football in 2001 and posted a mediocre 6-15 in its first two seasons.
But everything changed in 2003. The Owls went 11-3 and earned an at-large invite to the DivisionI-AA playoffs, where they reached the semifinals.
Florida Atlantic then applied for NCAA DivisionI-A status, the fastest any school has attempted a move from DivisionI-AA to I-A in NCAA history.
This season, as a provisional DivisionI-A program, the Owls rattled off five consecutive road victories against established DivisionI-A programs such as Hawaii and North Texas, sending the program from "FA who?" to "FA who knew?"
The who that knew before anyone else was the man that former Florida Atlantic president Anthony Cantanese lured out of retirement to spearhead the school's college football endeavor - Howard Schnellenberger.
If there is anything Schnellenberger knows how to do, it's build college football programs into national contenders.
As offensive coordinator under head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, Schnellenberger helped Alabama win national championships in 1961, 1964 and 1965.
Schnellenberger took his coaching talents to the NFL as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Rams and Miami Dolphins, helping guide the Dolphins to an undefeated 1972 season. He later was the head coach of the Baltimore Colts before rejoining the college ranks in 1979 to take over an ailing University of Miami program.
Schnellenberger turned Miami, which had one winning season in its previous four, into a national contender in just two years. Schnellenberger's reclamation project at Miami reached its zenith in 1983 when he guided the Hurricanes to their first national championship.
With his job complete at Miami, Schnellenberger returned to his hometown to revive Louisville's struggling football program. Schnellenberger led Louisville to an eight-win season in his fourth year at the school, and the Cardinals peaked with a 10-1 season and Fiesta Bowl invitation in 1990.
Schnellenberger retired after spending one season as head coach at Oklahoma in 1995, but three years later received an offer he couldn't refuse.
"Not many people in their life get the chance to become the father of a new program," Schnellenberger said. "Being director of football operations and raise money, recruit the coaches, design the stadium … I was brought in to be the key."
The master plan
Instead of turning around a struggling program, Schnellenberger was charged with building one from scratch. So that's what he went about doing when he was hired in 1998 as director of football operations.
Schnellenberger said the plan from the beginning was not just to bring football to Florida Atlantic but to bring a national DivisionI-A power to the school, which would be mentioned in the same breath as the state's BigThree: Florida State, Florida and Miami.
The first plan of action? Raise money - a lot of it. Try $15million just to get the ball rolling. This is where Schnellenberger the coach became Schnellenberger the financial strategist.
"The key was hitting the financial market at the right time in 1998," Schnellenberger recalled. "We knew we had to do it quick. The key element was building the athletic center.
"We started in May of 1998. We raised a hell of a lot of money. Then I hired a staff of three and a secretary."
As part of the fund-raising effort, Schnellenberger said a founders club was started with the intent of finding 100 people to give at least $50,000 to the football program. Schnellenberger said the response was better than he anticipated.
"We had some come in and give us $3million and $1million," Schnellenberger said. "That was the seed money."
Having secured funding, Florida Atlantic was able to build an $8.5million athletic complex, which Schnellenberger helped design. A multimillion-dollar, domed stadium is also in the works.
The next step in the plan was to get the word out to high schools in hopes of attracting DivisionI-A caliber athletes to a football program that had yet to exist.
That's when Schnellenberger the financial strategist became Schnellenberger the recruiter.
"Most of the kids in the state of Florida would like to play where everybody can see them," Schnellenberger said. "It takes a certain mentality to play for a school with no tradition. We were very blessed. We got guys that were going to be drafted in the National Football League. We were able to get top-of-the-line players from the outset."
Listening to some of the players, you can tell the strong influence Schnellenberger had over their decision to come to Florida Atlantic.
"A big part of the reason for choosing to come here was him," FAU sophomore cornerback Quincy Skinner said. "He knew how to win, and he has lived up to his reputation."
After a while, you get the sense that his players would just about believe anything Schnellenberger said when it comes to football.
"If he said we were playing the Miami Dolphins in 2007, I would have to believe him because he's been proven right so many times," Skinner said.
Road to contention
Schnellenberger has predicted that Florida Atlantic would be competing for a national title within five years of the program's move to I-A.
That may sound crazy coming from any program, especially one in a conference (Sun Belt) not even allowed to walk by a BCS game. But his players are buying every word of it.
"When he tells you something, he means it," Shepherd said. "We are as good as any team this season."
If Florida Atlantic continues at its current rate of progression, a major bowl appearance within five years will look less and less out of the realm of possibility.
The Owls have already begun to open eyes with their impressive start this season, which began with a 35-28 overtime victory at Hawaii.
"That somewhat set the tone for the season," Skinner said. "Camp really set the tone for us. We had it in our mind that we were going to win and we lived up to it. We came into this season expecting to win, and that is what we are doing."
With South Florida's rise from DivisionII to a member of the Big East in 2005, it is not expected to be long before Florida Atlantic starts eyeing major conferences.
For now, though, Schnellenberger is content seeing his latest construction project start to take shape.
"Things are going really well," Schnellenberger. "We are really proud of the team and their accomplishments. "
Contact Heath A. Smith at (850) 599-2166 or [email protected]