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Txs St looks different. Article

Texas St.sports a different look

By Ted Hutton
Staff Writer
Posted October 7 2004

BOCA RATON ? Florida Atlantic hasn't found much use for the tape of last year's game against Texas State. A lot has changed since the Owls beat the Bobcats 27-14.

Texas State (2-2) has a new coach, who has changed the offense and defense, forcing FAU (3-0) to prepare for what is essentially a different team than the one that came to Lockhart Stadium.

"Last year they just threw it all the time," said FAU defensive lineman William Gray about the difference in the Texas State team the Owls will face Saturday at San Marcos. "Now they run it a lot more."

Defensively the Bobcats also have changed. They now use two linebackers and five defensive backs but often move eight men near the line.

"They run a lot of slants and schemes, people blitzing from inside and outside," said FAU offensive lineman Chris Shepherd about the Bobcats' defense, which has 11 sacks this season.

The changes on the field were a result of the upheaval created when Manny Matsakis, who went 4-8 in his first year as coach last season, was found to have violated numerous NCAA rules regarding practices and recruiting.

Matasakis and Athletic Director Greg LaFleur were fired in January after an internal investigation by the university, and David Bailiff was hired a month later.

Bailiff inherited a run-and-shoot offense that did not use a running back or tight end, but relied on the arm of quarterback Barrick Nealy, a transfer from Houston.

Using a wide-open passing attack, Nealy (6 feet 5, 230 pounds), set nearly every Bobcats single-game and season-passing record, throwing for 3,129 yards and 21 touchdowns and rushing for 261 yards and three touchdowns.

Under Bailiff, Texas State now uses a running back and tight end, but the Bobcats' offense still revolves around Nealy.

Texas State operates out of a shotgun on most downs, but will run the option from that, allowing Nealy a chance to do damage with his arm and legs.

Nealy passed for 219 yards and ran for 102 last week against Appalachian State, his first game back after missing two games with a shoulder injury.

"We're trying to be more multiple, with our running game based on the option," Bailiff said.

Texas State is 2-0 at home, and 0-2 on the road, losing to Baylor 24-17 and Appalachian State 41-34, and Bailiff is wary of FAU, which has won all its games on the road this season.

"For us to have a chance Saturday, we have got to play our finest game of the year to stay on the field with them. They are playing that well this year," Bailiff said. "The quarterback [Jared Allen] has been able to pick people apart.

"[Tight end] Anthony Crissinger-Hill is just an amazing player.

"On defense, they can just fly."

FAU isn't taking Texas State lightly, either.

"We're going against a team that has had ups and downs but looks better than they did last year," FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger said. "We go into their hometown, and they are in revenge mode, with a quarterback that is outstanding and an offense that is totally different."

Parker back

Doug Parker, who is averaging 99.3 yards a game and is the Owls' leading rusher, was back in pads and practicing full-go Wednesday after being held out since last week with a sprained toe.

"It's promising," Schnellenberger said about Parker, who felt good enough to do some extra running after practice. …

Backup tight end Ben Coker did not practice due to a sprained ankle and is doubtful for Saturday's game.

Ted Hutton can be reached at [email protected]

Copyright ? 2004, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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