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Owls DC Hoza on the young defense

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Owls DC Hoza on the young defense

Inexperience has Owls grounded

Lineup laden with freshmen takes its lumps

By Ted Hutton
Staff Writer
Posted October 21 2005

Boca Raton ? Before the season started, Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger said he expected to see a lot of untested players on the field.

"We have 43 freshmen out there. A lot of those will have to play," Schnellenberger predicted.

That has proved to be true, as FAU has been starting eight freshmen, with 13 more serving as backups and seeing playing time in almost every game.

"They are learning with every game," Schnellenberger said, "and this bodes well for the future."

But at the present time, the team's youth has contributed to FAU's 1-6 record. The Owls had hoped to be in the mix in its first year in the Sun Belt, but are 1-2 in the conference and will be an underdog Saturday at Arkansas State (3-3, 2-1).

"It's a blessing and a curse, and not in that order," said FAU defensive coordinator Kirk Hoza, who has five freshmen and three sophomores starting on defense. "The freshmen are going through a learning curve that is very steep."

Against Louisiana-Lafayette, FAU gave up a touchdown and field goal on the first two possessions as the Owls got confused by the option.

Hoza identified the problem as sophomore linebacker Cergile Sincere, and in went freshman Andre Clark. Louisiana-Lafayette did not score again the rest of the game, and FAU got its only win, 28-10.

Last week against Middle Tennessee, it was freshman defensive back Greg Joseph who got the hook, and junior Troy Pindell, whom Joseph had beaten out for the starting job after game three, played the second half.

"I knew what man I had. I covered him, but I wasn't in my alignment. And because I wasn't, he broke big yards," Joseph said.

"He lined up out of position," Hoza said. "That means instead of being two yards from the ball carrier, you might be seven, and then what should be an easy tackle near the line becomes an attempted tackle in the open field, and a 2-yard gain turns into 10."

Hoza said Joseph will be back in the starting lineup Saturday.

Hoza said young players are coached about situations, but until they are actually in them, they really don't understand why things happen.

"From year to year they may get a little stronger and a little faster, but the biggest thing is what happens between their temples," Hoza said. "Just to have this many freshmen on the field at the same time, there are going to be mental mistakes."

Ted Hutton can be reached at [email protected]

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