Florida Atlantic football hosted its second scrimmage of fall practice Saturday afternoon, with the defense outscoring the offense 16-13.
“It was a pretty low scoring game, but it was a pretty close game, which would be alright as it turned out the defense was more than enough for the offense,” Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger said afterwards.
With an already thin line put together for the intra-squad game, things got a little bit more difficult for the offense, when center Mike Nweze went down and could not finish out the afternoon. That forced the Owls to turn to its fifth center of fall camp Ed Wertepny.
“It’s tough to lose your starting center; it’s a little bit tougher when you lose your next three,” Schnellenberger explained.
Quarterback Jeff Van Camp had to consistently scramble and run away from oncoming defenders all afternoon, as the inexperienced line struggled from the first whistle. One of those defenders was defensive tackle Jarvis Givens, who had a monster outing recording three sacks, and two stops crediting the defense with a point each.
“It was a little bit of everything, the schemes the defensive ends working and pushing the quarterback up in the pocket towards me, it comes from the whole defense,” Givens remarked about his performance.
To go along with Givens, other defenders made some big plays, including an early interception by Tavious Polo in the end zone. Polo’s interception was good enough for three points, and safety Tony Rodriguez got another when he picked off a deflected pass.
In the battle for the backup quarterback position, Graham Wilbert was 8-13 for 50 yards and an interception while David Kooi went 2-2 for 15 yards. Kooi at times chose to tuck the ball and run when he saw pressure, rather than pass, and finished the day with 4 rushes for 11 yards.
Kicker Ross Gornall was the leading scorer of the afternoon, hitting field goals of 23 and 32, and helping out a sputtering offense. The Owls' lone touchdown on the day was the product of Jeff Blanchard's punch-in from 5-yards out; giving the offense a halftime advantage.
Once the second half got underway, the defense stopped the offense's first and only drive before the scrimmage was called with inclement weather in the area.
“We got a lot of work to do, we got to keep the faith and work to become more proficient,” Schnellenberger said.
“We got a lot of new different defensive schemes that put us in situations to make plays, we just have to hone in and know everything.”
- Polo’s thoughts on the overall defense heading into the season.
“As long as it’s catchable, it doesn’t bother me at all.”
- Van Camp on whether the high or low snaps bother him.
“We had a couple of drives earlier that we didn’t capitalize on, so when I got in, I made it our business to get six points.”
- Blanchard talking about the offense in the red zone and his touchdown.