If FAU has a lot a of freshman and sophmores playing now they might be in the same situation in 2 or three years as they were last year, very experienced seniors with 3 or 4 years as starters.
But it is only up from here. Next year these guys will be a year more experienced.
The original class was recruited for immediate play in D1-AA as true 18 year olds. The vision was accelerated a couple of years later for moving up to D1-A based on reshuffling of conferences. An entire year earlier than expected to request for moving up.
Now you have newly recruited D1-AA talent playing D1-A teams. The drop off in talent was very noticeable after awhile. Overall the 2003 recruiting class was an upgrade from the original class of 2001. They looked for players who can be red shirted and will be contributing this year. That's what you see on the field along with true frosh. So now they can plug in good athletes starting next year along with seasoned sophomores and juniors. I'm sure the next recruiting class(s) will be specific need-based versus warm bodies like the original.
I do worry, though, about Minnesota. One of the things I did not expect this year was to be dismayed by some of the coaching. Though I have full confidence in (and admiration for) Coach Schnellenberger, the truth is that anytime a team is surprised by an onside (or short) kick, it is at least half the fault of the coach (special teams, in this case).
I do remember that (in days of yore, perhaps) the final words of a special teams coach to the receiving team would be, "Watch out for the onside kick." [Yikes! Remember the short kicks in the Colgate game? Disaster.]
That's sort of the blocking-and-tackling drill for special teams coaches, alas. Sure, the players are supposed to be alert. But it is essential that the coach say the obvious.
Think of how the Oklahoma State game dynamic could have been different if the Owls had not surrendered possession on that onside kick early. The team may be freshmen. The coaches have no such excuse. Live and, please, learn.
I am VERY concerned about Minnesota! Those guys are on fire. That RB is like a horse and the defense is no slouch. The FAU players need to be prepared for all aspects of the game. I agree that coaching played a major part in that loss. Because they are so young, the coaching need to be even more diligent in their preparations. They should take nothing for granted with the players.
Like I mentioned before, I like OSU game plan - At first I took it as them being worried about little FAU and needed to revert to trick plays, but they did what they had to do with a young inexperience team - test them early and just maybe get them unsettled a bit - throw them off and see how they handle the unexpected. Could very well be a little of both.
Hopefully the D is up for the challenge, because they will need a superman type preformance on Saturday to stop the BUS of a RB. Offense - stop the blitz :
If we can play tight and have a couple turnovers go our way(our secondary is surely up to the challenge) , who knows? Any given Saturday ;D
I would like to see FAU get back in the shotgun and move away from trying to pound the ball against a much bigger opponent. I think that really hurt the Owls against OSU. Put it up in the air and use the offensive speed to stretch the Minnesota defense. Despite my desire for FAU to win, common sense says that Minnesota will win. My fearless prediction Minnesota 38 FAU 17. GO OWLS!!!
* * *
FB: Mason & Gopher Players Prepare for Florida Atlantic
September 13, 2005 - Transcript of Coach Mason's press conference
?Thanks for coming, just a quick few comments about our performance last week and then I?ll talk about this week?s game and take questions. For me the big emphasis this week is on improvement. From the defensive side of the ball, we have to work to continue to tackle better. We can?t be a good defense unless you run to the ball well and do a good job of tackling. This turnover business, we?re getting turnovers, but we are missing too many that are there for our taking, and it is going to come back to haunt us. In a close ball game, one turnover can mean the difference. Somehow we have to get more pressure on the quarterback, and we better do that this week. With our more seasoned players, I?ve been very critical of the down-the-line guys, but some of our basic fundamental s have gotten violated at times. We gave up two cheap touchdowns because of that. We had guys in our secondary taking their eyes off their man and looking in the backfield.?
?Offensively I keep using this word consistency, but that?s the difference, especially in our passing attack, way too many dropped balls and/or missing the receiver when he?s wide open. We?re capable of being a lot better than that, if we weren?t I wouldn?t be openly critical about it, and we?ve done it before. I don?t know if it?s the way we?re addressing it, or the way we?re coaching it, the way we?re preparing it. I don?t know what our focus is, but we have to get better. I?m disappointed in the lack of productivity of our goal-line offense where we?ve typically been very good.?
?In the kicking game, we continue to work extremely hard in that area. I have no explanation for what went wrong with our extra point/field goal unit last week, but we?ll work very hard to correct it this week. The best thing is we got to play a tremendous number of players in that ball game.?
?This week, Florida Atlantic coached by Howard Schnellenberger, that us in college football have been around for a while know, and really respect the job that he?s done. To think in the late 1970?s that Miami of Florida was going to drop football, drop it! In the modern era now, you tell a kid getting recruited that and they say, ?Come on coach, they were going to drop football?? They thought they had no chance of winning, making money, being able to field a team, and Howard went in there and took the job and turned them in to a national champion. Then he left and went to the USFL and he re-surfaced at Louisville, and at least in my estimation the popularity of Louisville football right now, the success that they are having can be traced back to the job that Howard Schnellenberger did while he was there. Then he went over to Oklahoma and now he?s re-surfaced at Florida Atlantic. What I?m trying to tell you is that he is a darn good football coach. He knows how to recruit kids, he knows how to line them up, and he knows how to motivate them. ?
?They were 9-3 last year, and when you look at their record and who they beat, the thing that jumped right out at me was they beat Hawaii at Hawaii, which is no easy thing to do, just ask a couple of Big Ten teams. A common opponent that we had, and we really struggled with, Illinois State; he shut them out last year. This year they are 0-2 against two Big Twelve opponents Kansas and Oklahoma State. When you look at the comparative stats, it is really impressive. What isn?t impressive on their part is that they?ve had turnovers. They?ve self-destructed. Without that it could be a very different story. They have a lot of skilled athletes. They have 105 guys, and there are only five guys from out of state. They have a lot of guys that can run around and make plays. They play extremely aggressive and we are going to have to be better this week.?
On building a program:
?I can?t speak for Howard, I don?t know how he?s approached it. He?s just an unbelievable, tremendous success. I know that when I first went to Kent State, and you try to figure out why some programs win and some lose, and not the obvious reasons, but the football end of it. You look at the statistics, and sometimes they can be very misleading. At least back in 1986, when I looked at it two things jumped out at me. Losing programs couldn?t run the football, and losing programs played lousy defense. There were a lot of losing programs that had unbelievable, fancy passing stats. They could light up the scoreboard, but they weren?t winning any games. So I went about it that we were going to run the football and hopefully the byproduct was to make the defense a little bit tougher and go on from there.?
On Mike Sherels being a quiet, coachable kid:
?I think that is a very accurate assessment of Mike. Mike?s a guy who came from Rochester Marshall here as a walk-on player and I have special affection for those kids who come to try to prove you wrong. He is one on a list of many guys who not only end up earning a scholarship, but also become a starter and a good player. He caught everybody?s eye when he was a fullback; he could be a good fullback with us right now. He caught our eye by blocking the isolation. I think I moved him to defense because I was tired of seeing him knock our linebackers out of practice. They were the happiest guys in the world when I put him over there. They?d rather compete with him, than have to try to take on the fullback block. He?s a tough kid, football means a lot to him and he works hard, and he?s doing a good job.?
On playing Mike linebacker:
?I don?t know where you play and not have to make quick decisions anymore. Especially playing around here and having to go against our offense in practice all the time, you have to be pretty durable. That?s an ingredient we forget to talk about in football, is durability. I don?t care how talented a guy is, how good he is, if he is always banged up and on the sideline, how can you plan for him? How can you work with him? That?s not any fault of his; its just part of the business. He (Sherels) has proven that he?s a pretty tough guy.?
On whether his post-game reaction has changed:
?I don?t know. I?m one of those guys; sometimes I get misinterpreted because I wear my emotions on my sleeve. All of a sudden we win 56-24 and I went in and some people were saying, ?He?s all mad; he?s disappointed in his team?s performance.? There were aspects of it that I didn?t like. I said to somebody after the game that I didn?t think we ran the ball very effectively. They said, ?Coach, you gained 355 yards.? I said, ?We did?? You know perception is more important than fact, all of a sudden I felt a little bit better when I was presented with the facts. Is there something I thought we did better in that game? I don?t think so.?
On the improvement in tackling:
?Your mistakes tend to get ignored in victory and they get over dramatized in defeat. I go back and look at this game, sometimes I think, you know what, we got that guy down, but we didn?t use good fundamental tackling techniques. It takes zero talent to use the right technique, zero talent. All of a sudden you see a defensive back go in and he doesn?t get his head across the bow, he doesn?t wrap his arms, and he doesn?t drive his feet, but the guy goes down. Sooner or later that?s going to hurt you.?
On the top three ranked Big Ten teams losing:
?I?m just glad we weren?t one of them. I didn?t see it coming; I don?t think most people did. That probably says a lot about what early season rankings mean. Let?s face it, when you take two teams like Michigan and Notre Dame, not only are they two perennial powerhouses, but they are rivals, who knows what?s going to happen? Notre Dame?s beaten them two years in a row. When you look at Ohio State and Texas playing, two of the best teams in the country; I don?t think you?re going to find anybody in disagreement there. When you play in those conditions, it is going to come down to one play, one mistake, one miscue, and that?s exactly what happened. I didn?t see it coming, what happened in Iowa at Iowa State, but that?s a bitter rivalry down there. It goes to show, you just don?t know what?s going to happen every week. We played Tulsa, all of a sudden they went down to play Oklahoma at Oklahoma, and they gave them a heck of a game. That?s when you start thinking, maybe Tulsa?s a little better than we thought.?
On whether there is a correlation between the increase in turnovers and new defensive coordinator David Lockwood:
?None, he was standing next to me on the sidelines. It?s like anything else in coaching, if it doesn?t go well you?re going to take the criticism. If it goes well then I think Lockwood?s doing a great job. If he?d be doing a little better job, I?d put him up for assistant coach of the year. I think it?s a result of our approach. Sometimes teams just give you the ball, like when the quarterback is under pressure and he throws the ball right to the guy. Ours have been because of aggressive play. I wish we had more, because we are doing pretty good right now. Lockwood?s done a good job. I like what I see; I like the way he is handling our players, he has their attention, there?s a clear message, and he knows what he wants. He?s doing a good job.?
On Tony Brinkhaus? nickname, ?Bubba?:
?I don?t have the slightest idea. He had that nickname in high school, and sometimes nicknames follow you to college and sometimes they don?t. Initially that didn?t, and he became ?Brink? here. Slowly but surely, more guys were calling him ?Bubba?. I don?t hear anybody call him Tony. That?s his name, isn?t it? Tony? I hear no one call him Tony. I call him ?Bubba?. He likes ?Bubba?. He?s ?Bubba?; he looks like a ?Bubba?, he plays like a ?Bubba?. We need more ?Bubbas?.?
?It was a flip of the coin on that guy, whether I was going to recruit him or not. Really, I?m dead serious. We recruited him because he was in our camp, and we got to view him first hand. We recruited ?Bubba? Brinkhaus because of his toughness, and his eagerness to jump in there and compete against all comers. He?s playing so much better than I would have anticipated at this point in his career.?
On his emphasis on getting walk-ons:
?We continue to do it. We?ve always tried to get those types of guys. We work hard to get them. We even bring some of them in on official visits. Sure I have a pitch; I?m from New Jersey. I don?t want to give all my secrets away. The thing about it is, the best endorsement is a satisfied customer.?
On Brandon Owens:
?Both coaches after out last two games have come up to me after the game and said, ?Where id you get number 20?? He is the type of player, where you better know where he is on the field, you better see him coming or you will have a problem.?
Running back Laurence Maroney
On the number of carries against Colorado State:
?I had 21 at the half, and I felt like I was going to get more. But it really takes the pressure off of me, having Amir Pinnix and Gary Russell so I don?t have to do it all by myself. So when Big Ten hits I have to get used to it.?
On looking forward to the Big Ten season:
?I'm not looking to the Big Ten right now. I?m just looking forward to playing Florida Atlantic and just going out there and doing my best, helping the team win. Then we?ll get ready for Purdue after that.?
On maintaining focus during non-conference games:
"You just have to take it one game at a time and you can?t overlook another team. A lot of top 25 teams are getting beat because they are overlooking these teams and underestimating them. Our goal is to just take one game at a time. I look at FloridaAtlantic as we just need to go out there and play hard.?
On not being satisfied with such a large margin win
?When you know that you can play better, you know that everyone can do better and you expect more from your team. Winning like that is a good win for us but we know that we can do better as a team. We have to go out there and execute. We can?t run the same plays against every defense. You just have to scheme and watch film to see what kind of defense they are running and work off of that.?
On team?s reaction after the Colorado State victory:
?We weren?t as excited because we expected to win and we know we didn?t play as good as we should have. And we have to step it up and get focused because we can?t continue to play like this is the Big Ten unless we want to get beat.?
On needed offensive improvements:
?We?ve hit a couple of big plays here and there, but we need to do it on a consistent basis. There?s been a lot of eight and nine man fronts, but it?s nothing we haven?t seen or aren?t used to. When there?s nine men in the box we know that our receivers are one-on-one so there?s always big play possibilities. And there?s no one back deep to stop the run so you only need one little hole. If you get one good block and get past the line there?s always a big play waiting to happen.?
On needed personal improvements:
?I?m still working on my blitz pick-up and catching the ball out of the backfield. The running part is going OK right now, so I?m just trying to work on my hands and blocking ability.?
On the offensive line:
?Like coach Mason emphasized, the second team should always be as good as the first team. I?ve got a great offensive line and they can come together as a unit and hide the weak points. You can put anyone in there and I?ll feel good about who I?m running behind.?
On team?s approach to non-conference games:
?We just want to go out there and play hard. We just want to clean up all the mistakes from last week and make fewer mistakes this week. The non-conference is about getting everything tuned up and in order for the Big Ten.?
Quarterback Bryan Cupito
On the team?s approach to non-conference games:
"We?re taking these three games the same as we would the Big Ten. We can?t overlook this game because anyone can beat us. We?re looking to get better and we?ve gotta get better to win the Big Ten."
On needed improvements before the Big Ten opener vs. Purdue
"Everyone?s got to try to get better before the Big Ten season because the Big Ten is so deep this year. In order to win it we?ve got to get better before it starts. We?ve had some improvements and we?ve had some declines in certain areas and we?re going to try and improve on everything this week."
On opponent?s defensive approaches so far:
"We?ve been way too inconsistent. We?ve been looking at some different stuff. There?s already been a lot more blitzing this year than last year. A lot of teams are going to try and stop the run game and see what happens. So we?ll have to improve the passing game and go from there."
On rating his performance so far this season:
"Disappointing. But if we can improve by the start of the Big Ten then that?s when it really matters. I?ve missed some big plays and in the last game I threw an interception. I?ve got to keep making the big plays. To get ready for the Big Ten you have to focus on winning and we?ve just got to get better before we face Purdue."
On expectations of Florida Atlantic:
"I really haven?t seen them yet, but I have heard that they?re really fast. They proved they can hang in the game against Oklahoma State. We can beat any team and lose to any team, so we can?t overlook this team at all."
Linebacker Mike Sherels
On his options to play college football:
?I almost went down to Northern Iowa. I had offers from North Dakota and NDSU, and many I-AA and division two teams, but that didn?t get me. I wanted a chance here, just to see what would happen.?
On switching to linebacker:
?Playing linebacker in the Big Ten? Originally I didn?t believe that I could play linebacker at this level. I knew the position because I played it in high school, but I was comfortable at fullback. I switched and it was a bit overwhelming at first and I had a lot to learn, but I feel comfortable now.?
On why he finally chose Minnesota:
?I didn?t want to look back and say I wonder if I could?ve played there or say, I wish I would?ve tried it. I figured I could always transfer down to play more in division two. I guess I was following the dream, and it?s worked out.?
On the correlation between youth and aggressiveness in the defense:
?It has a lot to do with it. The guys who came in here together all have the same attitude. Guys like me, Shevlin, Owens, and Jamal Harris, we all came in here with a lot of fire and that attitude, that mentality, that if you play hard and hit hard good things will happen.?
On defensive changes under coach Lockwood:
The defense has been simplified, but there?s a much greater emphasis on going hard every single play and doing exactly what you need to do. Coach Lockwood told us that we were going to keep the base defense but we?d simplify it a little bit. What we really needed to change was the attitude and the way we approached practices. We needed to go hard all the time. So the overall attitude and approach has changed. It was kind of a general consensus that a change was needed. We needed to work harder. We needed to try harder. We all just bought into it right away.