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Florida Atlantic needs strong start to avoid Sun Belt Conference football woes

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Florida Atlantic needs strong start to avoid Sun Belt Conference football woes

Florida Atlantic needs strong start to avoid Sun Belt Conference football woes

By Marcus Nelson Special to the Palm Beach Post
Updated: 10:05 p.m. Monday, July 19, 2010


BOCA RATON If Florida Atlantic is to fare better than the fifth-place finish in the Sun Belt Conference the league's coaches think the Owls are headed for, coach Howard Schnellenberger said his team must avoid a slow start and finish strong.

"We have to come out of the chute fast if we are going to be able to compete in the conference," Schnellenberger said.

FAU was predicted by the Sun Belt Conference coaches to finish in fifth place in the league's pre-season poll released Monday at the beginning of the league's Media Days, which conclude today.

The last two seasons, the Owls were a combined 3-9 in the first half of the season. FAU rebounded enough in the second half in 2008 to earn an invitation to the Motor City Bowl. Last season FAU won three out of its last four games, but that wasn't enough to make it to a third consecutive bowl game as the Owls finished 5-7 and tied for third place in the Sun Belt with a 5-3 league record.

However, faced with replacing its offensive line and quarterback Rusty Smith, who was drafted by the Tennessee Titans, the Owls are predicted to finish behind favorite Middle Tennessee, Troy, Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette.

If the Owls can avoid a slow start, they may have something to stay about who wins the Sun Belt championship. FAU's last two games of the season are against the Blue Raiders and the Trojans.

"They are rightfully the favorites going into this year and they have a wonderful programs at both places," Schnellenberger said. "All the rest of us are trying to catch up and trying to rise to the occasion but we better have a game plan for them."

As part of the Media Days, the Sun Belt also released its pre-season All-Sun Belt team and its television schedule.

Junior running back Alfred Morris, who led the conference with 1,392 yards rushing in 2009, and senior cornerback Tavious Polo were the only Owls named to the pre-season All-Sun Belt team.

Also, the Sun Belt Conference announced that in addition to FAU's games vs. Michigan State on Sept. 11 and vs. Troy on Dec. 4 which are to be televised on ESPNU, the Owls' game at Arkansas State on Oct. 23 will be shown on the Sun Belt Conference Network, including CSS in Palm Beach County.

* Sun Belt Champions & New Orleans Bowl Champions-2007
* Motor City Bowl/Little Ceasers Pizza Bowl Champions-2008
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Re: Florida Atlantic needs strong start to avoid Sun Belt Conference football woes

Ahhh, so in order for the Owls to do better this season we should win early and then win some more later in the year, great analysis.

Nebraska, Texas, South Carolina, Mich St. and Minnesota all had something to say about us starting strong…we're 4-4 IN conference to start the last two seasons, could that be better, yes, but it's certainly not 3-9
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