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From Monroe, La., News Star:


From Monroe, La., News Star:

Article published Sep 20, 2005
This season, it will count
ULM will be first official Sun Belt game for Florida Atlantic

By Paul J. Letlow
[email protected]

Two winless Sun Belt Conference football teams get their chance to hit the reset button this week.
Louisiana-Monroe (0-3) opens conference action Thursday night on the road against new league member Florida Atlantic University (0-3). A year ago, the Indians beat FAU 17-13 in a designated Sun Belt game. This year with the 6:30 p.m. contest televised on ESPNU ? the decision counts on both sides of the ledger.

"Our goal is to play competitively and go for the championship," said FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger, who built his fifth-year program from the ground up. "Whether we're experienced enough to do that, I don't know."

Schnellenberger, a former head coach at Miami, Louisville and Oklahoma, has a grand vision for his current employer.

Schnellenberger preaches that FAU is a school that could eventually succeed on the level as other established Division I-A programs in Florida ? including Miami, where he turned a loser into a national championship team in the 1980s. For now, he'll work to make the Owls one of the Sun Belt's elite teams.

"We think it's very important that we become highly competitive at the highest level of the Sun Belt Conference and that we be there at the end to make some good things happen," Schnellenberger said. "There are enough good teams in the Sun Belt Conference for us to get a lot of experience as well."

Schnellenberger's master plan includes ambitious scheduling. FAU opened this season with losses to Kansas, Oklahoma and Minnesota. After playing the Indians, FAU will visit Louisville.

"Hopefully, this has given us enough experience for us to match up with Monroe, who beat us here last year at home," Schnellenberger said. "We look forward to the opportunity."

The early games have given FAU a baptism of fire into I-A, but also shown the Owls what it takes to succeed at that level. Against the Gophers in the Metrodome last Saturday night, Minnesota gained 579 yards of offense and led 40-0 at halftime.

"We volunteered for these games, hoping to play the best teams that we could to gain the experience that we need so desperately," Schnellenberger said.

The Owls weren't a card-carrying member of the Sun Belt in 2004, but they would have fared well if they had been. Playing as a transitional I-A team, FAU went 3-3 against Sun Belt members, including a win over four-time defending champion North Texas.

However, FAU lost 28 seniors off of that 9-3 team, and brings a significantly younger lineup to the field. Schnellenberger said his team has 13 seniors, 12 juniors, eight sophomores and 45 freshmen.

"Over the long haul, we'll be more talented than what we had in this first four-year period," Schnellenberger said. "Our recruiting is getting better each year. Now that we're fully a Division I-A team with nine of 11 games televised, I think we'll become a lot more popular destination."

FAU's top offensive weapon is quarterback Danny Embick, a senior who is a first-year starter. Embick leads the Owls in rushing and has a completion rate of 55.9 percent with three touchdown passes and one interception. Embick transferred from West Virginia, where he was backup on Coach Rich Rodriguez's 2002 team.

Still, FAU has been outscored 99-29 through three games.

"I see a team that plays their tail off," ULM coach Charlie Weatherbie said. "They play very hard and have good speed and quickness."
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From Monroe, La., News Star:

I have this weird feeling like the season is just starting and we haven't played a game yet. It almost seems as if Thursday is the first game.
Then I will go back into my dream world again when Louisville comes calling.

What was that Lloyd Bridges line in the Airplane movie? "I picked a bad time to quit smoking".

Problem is…I never started. ;D
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From Monroe, La., News Star:

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

ULM Quick Slant

By Paul J. Letlow
[email protected]

ULM (0-3, 0-0) at Florida Atlantic (0-3, 0-0)
Kickoff: Thursday, 6:30 p.m.
Site: Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.
Series: ULM leads 1-0
Last meeting: 2004, ULM 17-13

Postseason invites

Senior defensive end Brandon Guillory has received an invitation to play in the 5th Annual All-American Classic on Jan. 14, 2006 in Las Vegas.

Guillory, quarterback Steven Jyles and punter Joel Stelly were notified this week that they had been named to the East-West Shrine Game watch list.

Official rosters for all postseason all-star games will be announced in January.

Secondary suspensions

Senior safety Shelton Williams and sophomore cornerback Chaz Williams were suspended from the Georgia game for violation of team rules.

ULM coach Charlie Weatherbie also sat Williams down for the first half of the Wyoming game after his mercurial player tossed the ball out of the stadium after scoring a touchdown on an interception return.

Just kicking it

Stelly continues to keep his average up. Stelly ranks 12th nationally at 44.29 yards per kick.

He averaged 45.3 yards per punt on seven punts against Georgia. It was the third week in a row that he punted the ball seven times in a game.

He has increased his gross average by one yard each game this season ? Northwestern State (43.3 ypp), Wyoming (44.3 ypp), Georgia (45.3 ypp).


WR Drouzon Quillen has had a reception in every game (14) since he returned from a leg injury in 2003. … Freshman safety Josh Thompson returned from a shoulder injury to lead ULM with eight tackles at Georgia. … Former NFL quarterback Steve Walsh is in his fifth season providing analysis on FAU radio broadcasts.

FOCUS ON… A short week

Fortunately this week, the Louisiana-Monroe football team didn't have to spend much time dwelling on its 44-7 loss to Georgia.

The Indians have a rare short week to prepare for Florida Atlantic. ULM opens Sun Belt play on Thursday.

"We came in here as coaches on Saturday and got that video corrected and out of the way," ULM coach Charlie Weatherbie said. "We started working on Florida Atlantic at that point."

Unlike a typical week, ULM did not get a day off, with practices on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The Indians will spend today in classes and have a short walk-through on their own campus before flying out tonight.

"We'll have had four practices, really three with a walk-through," Weatherbie said. "It is a little bit shorter week, and we had to speed up things a little bit.

"But what it makes you do is forget the last game in a hurry and move on to the next one. You can't dwell on that last one as long."

ULM reported no new injuries of note, which could have been an issue with less time to heal. In fact, running back Mason Denham has a chance to return to action after sitting out the past two games with a high ankle sprain.

FAU faces the same short-week challenges. The Owls played at Minnesota on Saturday night. Inclement weather in Florida this week is also a factor.

"I think it's about even," FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger said. "The only difference is that they have to ride over here on an airplane. And I don't think that makes a whole lot of difference."

FAU has already played one Thursday game this season. The Owls played host to Oklahoma State in Miami in the second week. "This is only the second one of these things we've had, so I don't know if I'm an expert on Thursday night football," Schnellenberger said.


Sun Belt POWs

Louisiana-Lafayette wide receiver Derrick Smith and safety Johnny Felders are the offensive and defensive players of the week in the Sun Belt Conference.

Smith, a freshman, made five catches for 64 yards and scored three TDs in ULL's win over Northwestern State. All three scores came on third-and-goal.

Felders led the Cajuns with seven tackles (including a team-high four solos).

He also posted his first career interception with a pick in the Cajuns' end zone with ULL holding a slim seven-point third quarter lead. Felders recovered a fumble at the Cajun 1-yard line in the fourth quarter.

Troy provided the special teams player of the week for the third straight time.

Punter Thomas Olmsted averaged 41.8 yards on eight punts against Missouri. He had a long punt of 54 yards placed four punts inside the Tigers' 20-yard line and four that were fair caught.

Mo' money

North Texas athletics director Rick Villarreal told The Denton Record-Chronicle that the school will receive $50,000 from LSU to help cover the costs of moving the game from Sept. 3 to Oct. 29.

UNT moved its homecoming against Louisiana-Monroe from Oct. 29 to Nov. 19. The changes also involved ULL. UNT has a $500,000 contract to play LSU.

Around the belt

Arkansas State RB Antonio Warren ran for 132 yards on 22 carries despite missing the entire third quarter and part of the second quarter. Warren has reached 100-plus yards in all three games, including rushing for nearly double the yards that OSU allowed per game prior to playing ASU. He now has 10 100-yard rushing games in his career. He moved past former ASU great Corey Walker into seventh on ASU's career rushing yards chart, now with 2,355. … ULL freshman RB Tyrell Fenroy had 15 carries for 163 yards against Northwestern State.

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From Monroe, La., News Star:

Article published Sep 22, 2005

Hungry for a win
ULM and Florida Atlantic to meet in critical game

By Paul J. Letlow
[email protected]

The Louisiana-Monroe football team reaches the crossroads tonight. With a Sun Belt Conference win over Florida Atlantic, the Indians could turn the page on their disappointing 0-3 start and leap to an early lead in the league race. A win would add a new sense of purpose for the team and its supporters.

Or, ULM could lose its Sun Belt opener to a 0-3 team and write another chapter in a season going awry.

The balance of the year depends on tonight's outcome.

"It's very important," ULM coach Charlie Weatherbie said. "It's a Sun Belt Conference game, number one. Number two, it's an opportunity to get a taste of victory. It's going to be a hard-fought football game."

The Indians kick off their second season at 6:30 p.m., at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU, where available.

The thought of a fresh start after losses to Northwestern State, Wyoming and Georgia should be invigorating for a ULM team that is a seven-point underdog to Florida Atlantic.

"I think we're continuing to improve," Weatherbie said. "I know our players are looking forward to playing Florida Atlantic, just as I'm sure they're looking forward to playing us."

Last year's 17-13 win at FAU was a high point to ULM's 5-6 season. That victory was the third in a row at that time, counted as a designated Sun Belt Conference win and came over a team that had been undefeated coming in.

"They are certainly a competitive group of guys and they certainly played a very good game against us last year," FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger said. "That's the only thing I really know about them."

This year, FAU is a full-fledged Sun Belt member. Tonight's date marks the first Sun Belt game in the five-year history of the FAU program. The Owls lost 28 seniors from the team that played ULM last season.

Like ULM, FAU has stumbled out of the gate. The Owls have losses to Kansas, Oklahoma State and Minnesota.

"We're starved for a win," Schnellenberger said. "I think overall our team is encouraged by the way they've played in each of the games."

Turnovers and big plays played a big role in ULM's win at FAU a year ago. The Indians took the ball away three times on three interceptions by safety Chris Harris ? who has now moved on to the NFL.

A bright spot so far for the Indians this season has been its ability to force turnovers. The Indians rank second in the Sun Belt with eight takeaways ? with a league-leading six interceptions and two fumble recoveries.

"It's very important that you have takeaways," Weatherbie said. "We preach and teach it and work at it. Normally, you're better at things you work at and it's something we work hard at. I'm excited about the way our guys are coming up with the football."

While FAU has seen its roster turnover quite a bit, several players who had big nights in Florida are still with ULM.

Quarterback Steven Jyles, who has passed for 202 yards and a touchdown. Punter Joel Stelly boomed a 76-yard punt late that helped preserve the win. Running back Mason Denham, who could return from an ankle injury, ran for 110 yards on just 13 carries against FAU.

"They're a football team that is very capable of competing in the Sun Belt," Weatherbie said, "just like we are."
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