FAU offensive line coach Dale Williams, right, talks to his players after Wednesday’s practice. (FAUOwlAccess.com photo)
FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger says the Owls’ inexperienced offensive line came up big after a slow start in last week’s 32-31 victory at UAB, but will face a huge challenge this week vs. Michigan State.
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BOCA RATON – Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger had a quick answer for how much his offensive line grew up during Thursday’s season-opening 32-31 victory at UAB last week.
“You can take ‘up’ off that statement because they grew,” Schnellenberger said. “We’ll see far how far they have grown in this next game. “
The Owls offensive linemen, who were each making their first career starts vs. the Blazers, didn’t literally get bigger during the game, but their play may have looked like they did just that.
Quarterback Jeff van Camp was sacked for an 8-yard loss on the game’s first play and was pounded after throwing the ball on the next few drives.
But as the game went on, the play of FAU’s front improved.
“There were nerves more than anything,” said tackle Max Karrick. “We didn’t have a single guy that started a game. But once we got those initial nerves out, it turned into just doing what we do every day out here. It’s not a very tense huddle and we keep things kind of light and Jeff does a good job of keeping not freaking out and keeping other guys from freaking out. We knew it would turn around.”
By the end of the game, Van Camp was getting more time to throw and the holes were opening up for FAU running back Alfred Morris.
“Overall, they looked like a veteran O-Line at the end of the game,” Van Camp said. “They are all young and they are going to be very good once they get older.”
The Owls offensive linemen were doing what they said they would do: get better once they got on the field and started playing together.
“There were some nerves and there was the speed of the game,” said FAU offensive line coach Dale Williams. “It really wasn’t until the third quarter where they started saying ‘This is the same game we do behind The Ox.’ It’s just played faster. They finally decided they wanted to play together.”
Those lineman will have their hands full this week facing Michigan State’s defensive line, which averages 6-foot-4, 277 pounds across the front.
“Their lineman are very good,” Schnellenberger said. “I guess we played against them two years ago when they were sophomores and now they are mostly seniors. I guess they stayed together since then and we’ve graduated a few.”
Quick Hooters: Defensive tackle Jarvis Givens left practice early because he was ill. …Wide receiver Lester Jean was limited at practice, but is expected to be near full-strength on Saturday.
Practice report: What we saw at practice
Making plays: FAU DB Winfred Strickland, had a fumble recovery in practice keeping his progression going. Strickland tipped the pass that DB Brentley Harstad intercepted and ran in for a touchdown vs., UAB. It was Strickland’s first college game.
Stepping up: TE Nexon Dorvilus is going to see plenty of action this week as the Owls are likely to use plenty of three tight-end formations to help neutralize the Spartans’ size advantage.
Instant message: “It was a better practice than yesterday. Yesterday we got beat 55-0. Today we were right there in the fourth quarter.”
- FAU defensive backs coach Dick Hopkins