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University Press www.upressonline.com

| August 24, 2010

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fau’s student newspaper

Alfred Morris and FAU are aiming to get back to a bowl game in the Owls’ 10th season.

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| Vol. 12 Issue 1

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August 24, 2010 Special issue editor Franco Panizo Special issue designer Stephanie Colaianni Special issue copy editor Ricky Michalski

Editor-in-Chief Listings Editor Karla Bowsher Diana Burgos Managing Editor Gideon Grudo WEB editor Devin Desjarlais

PHOTO Editor Liz Dzuro OWL NEWS TV Editor Karen “Kat” Herisse

senior art director Stephanie Colaianni Reporters Brandon Ballenger Monica Ruiz Copy DESK CHIEF STAFF REPORTERS Ricky Michalski Alyssa Cutter SPORTS EDITOR Sloane Davis Mark Gibson Franco Panizo Business Manager Tyler Krome

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PUBLISHER: FAU Student Government The opinions expressed by the UP are not necessarily those of the student body, Student Government or the university. cover photo by liz dzuro

FAU — a team worth watching in 2010 Franco Panizo Sports Editor  Nearly three years ago, FAU began what would become its first season with a bowl game victory, making the Owls the youngest startup program to accomplish such a feat. Back then, I couldn’t have named you more than three players on the team.  That was a big mistake, and one I’ll never repeat. You shouldn’t, either. Entering its 10th season, FAU is a football program on a slow but steady rise, with the men behind the scenes working just as hard as head coach Howard Schnellenberger and the players to help field a more serious team. Fielding star players capable of competing in the NFL, such as quarterback Rusty Smith, as well as striving for an on-campus football stadium — which was finally approved last month and is scheduled for a 2011 debut — and winning back-to-back bowl games in 2007 and 2008 are just some of the examples that show FAU’s progress toward becoming a better and more well-known program.  So you’d better pay attention to the Owls this year.  “Everybody is hungry,” said cornerback Tavious Polo at FAU’s media day on Aug. 5. “We all want to eat. 5-7 ain’t going to get us food. We need to win and get a conference championship and [more].” Whether they succeed in reaching those lofty expectations or fail trying, the Owls will be worth following in 2010.

Pirates should note that the foam party on Aug. 27 starts at 10 p.m., not 10 a.m., as was reported in the last print issue. To learn more about the foam party or other upcoming events, visit www.universitypressonline.com/2010NSE or www.fau.edu/wow.

3 • August 24, 2010 • University Press • www.upressonline.com

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Where Owls Take Flight... Campus Recreation Career Development Center for Counseling and Psychological Services Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Fraternity and Sorority Life Housing and Residential Life International Students and Scholar Services Multicultural Affairs New Student and Owl Family Programs Students with Disabilities Student Involvement and Leadership Student Government Student Media Student Conduct Campus Ministries Student Health Center Student Union Today and Beyond/Health Promotion Weppner Center for Civic Engagement and Service Broward Campuses Northern Campuses

A message from...

Dr. Charles Brown, Sr. Vice President for Student Affairs On behalf of the Division of Student Affairs, I am pleased to welcome our new students to the Florida Atlantic University family and look forward to another exciting year working with our returning students. The 2010-11 academic year will bring new challenges, opportunities and moments to remember. The Student Affairs staff will continue to work closely with our students and faculty to continue our goal of maintaining a vibrant university community that supports the total development of each student. Student Affairs will continue to offer programs and services that complement the academic experience and foster academic success. Each fall semester brings new life to campus, along with excitement and anticipation. Whether you are a new or returning student, I hope you will become involved in campus organizations that interest you, attend athletic and social events, and get to know your professors and members of the Student Affairs staff. Freshman and new students, remember that graduation is your ultimate goal, so make class attendance a priority. And returning upper classmen be aware that your new peers will be looking to you as role models.

Special Edition • www.upressonline.com • University Press •August 17, 2010 • 4

Have a great 2010-11 academic year! Go Owls! Sincerely,

Dr. Charles Brown

Sr. Vice President for Student Affairs


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5 • August 17, 2010 • University Press • www.upressonline.com • Special Edition

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Special Edition • www.upressonline.com • University Press •August 24, 2010 • 6

Nearing a

Decade Approaching its 10th year, FAU’s football team has reached several accomplishments, including back-to-back bowl wins

Alyssa Cutter Staff Reporter When FAU steps onto the football field for its season opener on Sept. 2, its game against University of Alabama at Birmingham will have special significance — and not just because it is being played against a Sun Belt Conference foe on a

Thursday. The game at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala., will mark the start of the Owls’ tenth year as a program, and that time span has seen FAU enjoy its share of success, including becoming the fastest program to win back-to-back bowl games. It hasn’t been all positive for FAU over the past decade, though. The Owls lost their initial game in 2001 and had a 2-9 record the following year. But since those first two seasons, FAU has been on the fast track to success. Not only has FAU been steadily improving, it has stunned some heavily favored teams along the way, including Middle Tennessee State on Aug. 28, 2003. “Beating Middle Tennessee State for our first Division I-A win, after only playing football for 22 games, was a huge milestone,” said FAU assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Kurt Van Valkenburgh. “No one had done that.” Another pair of achievements FAU reached occurred in 2007, when it became the youngest program to reach and win a bowl game after

claiming the New Orleans Bowl against Memphis. “To go into the first bowl game in the history of the school — and go in as underdogs, which we do most places we go — and then to come out successful, was great,” said Van Valkenburgh. “All of a sudden it gave it real validity to the fact that,

Rusty Smith being drafted is a major step for the program.

Head coach Howard Schnellenberger

yes, it can indeed and will indeed happen here.” FAU qualified for a bowl game again the following year, but the road there was not as easy as in 2007. After starting the season 1-5, the team had to win nearly all of its remaining games to have a shot at being bowl-game-eligible. FAU accomplished that

unlikely feat, and went on to win the 2008 Motor City Bowl. “There were a lot of challenges to overcome all through that year, and then we got into a bowl game against a very good football team,” said Van Valkenburgh. “To win against [Central Michigan] in a tight fought battle was really special.” While the 2009 season did not see a three-peat for the Owls, what followed may have been just as exciting as another bowl game win. On April 24, 2010, FAU’s graduating quarterback, Rusty Smith, became the first Owl drafted into the NFL when the Tennessee Titans selected him in the sixth round at pick 176. “Rusty Smith being drafted is a major step for the program,” said head coach Howard Schnellenberger. “Whenever you have a startup program, you hope the first [player drafted] does well, because then it makes it easier for the next ones.” What the coaches don’t feel will be easy is the upcoming year. Not only is the schedule tough, but the team has lost several key players to graduation. However, the coaching staff still expects the players to do well and compete for the conference title. “We’re not going to be one of the favorites going into the year,” said Van Valkenburgh. “But I think we can perform to that level where we can and we hope to get back to another bowl game.” That would be the latest in a series of accomplishments by a team still in its first decade of action.


40

40

Timeline of main events in FAU football

Aug. 28, 2003: FAU defeats first Division 1-A opponent, Middle Tennessee State, 20-19.

Sept. 15, 2007: FAU defeats first Bowl Championship Series opponent, Minnesota, at Pro Player Stadium, 42-39. May 1, 1998: Head coach Howard Schnellenberger is hired by FAU.

Dec. 1, 2007: FAU captures first Sun Belt Conference title by defeating Troy, 38-32. The Owls finished the season 7-5, with a 6-1 conference record.

50

Sept. 2, 2010: FAU’s 10th season as a football program begins. Dec. 26, 2008: FAU becomes first Sun Belt Conference team to win back-to-back bowl games, defeating Central Michigan 24-21 in the Motor City Bowl.

7 • August 24, 2010 • University Press • www.upressonline.com • Special Edition

40

Sept. 22, 2005: First Division 1-A Sun Belt Conference game vs. LouisianaMonroe

April 24, 2010: Quarterback Rusty Smith becomes first FAU player drafted into the NFL.

40

50 Sept. 1, 2001: FAU plays its first game, losing 40-7 to Slippery Rock.

Dec. 21, 2007: FAU becomes youngest startup team to be invited to and win a bowl game, defeating the Memphis Tigers in the New Orleans Bowl, 44-27.


Special Edition • www.upressonline.com • University Press •August 24, 2010 • 8


Heavily At the end of last season, FAU waved goodbye to several seniors, including its five starting offensive linemen. While other positions have seasoned replacements, the Owls’ offensive line is an untested unit whose performance could make or break the season. The offensive line showed its inexperience in the spring game in April, as it had trouble protecting the quarterbacks. Despite the line’s performance that day, offensive coordinator Darryl Jackson believes it is still a solid and talented unit that just needs repetition to

do well. “We have all the right pieces to the puzzle,” said Jackson. “We just need to stay healthy and focused to make sure all those pieces come together.” While FAU has other positions to fill on the offense as well, the Owls have more experienced players to fill those gaps. Players like tight end Rob Housler and wide receiver Avery Holley have had their share of playing time in seasons past, and look to complement the group of starters, which includes quarterback Jeff Van Camp and running back Alfred Morris. Here is how the UP grades the offense:

PHOTO BY RALPH NOTARO

MARK GIBSON STAFF REPORTER

relied upon

Quarterback Jeff Van Camp will aim to build on his impressive 2009 season.

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Quarterbacks

With Rusty Smith now NFL-bound, the Owls will follow the leadership of Jeff Van Camp, who started five games last season after stepping in for an injured Smith. Unlike his outings in 2009, where he was mostly accurate and threw for 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions, Van Camp’s spring game performance saw several overthrown passes and poor communication with receivers. Part of the reason for that was the offensive line’s inability to protect him. Nonetheless, Van Camp has been working extensively on refining his game. “Even though the scoreboard says we won, I feel we played horrible in the spring game,” said Van Camp. “It’s extremely important to develop good chemistry between me and the other receivers.” Backing up Van Camp will be redshirt sophomores David Kooi and Wilbert Graham. Behind them are two freshmen. After Van Camp, the depth of the quarterback position is largely young and inexperienced, and judging from the spring game, these players need to work on their timing and accuracy.

9 • August 24, 2010 • University Press • www.upressonline.com • Special Edition

Offense’s success could hinge on inexperienced offensive line


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Alfred Morris returns as FAU’s star running back. His breakout season last year saw him lead the Sun Belt Conference as well as break FAU’s all-time single season record with 1,392 rushing yards. While the offensive line remains in question, the Owls coaching staff still believes Morris will have a strong year, especially with the belief that he will become more involved in the passing game. Along with Morris, Willie Floyd returns to the field after missing 2009 due to a shoulder injury. Floyd is a solid backup who can continue to churn yards when Morris needs to catch his breath.

A Morris-Floyd duo could turn out to be a dominating force, as they each offer different running styles to keep defenses on their toes. Redshirt sophomores Michael Barasch, Xavier Stinson and redshirt senior Jeff Blanchard are also returning. These three backs can carry the ball well and proved so in the spring game. The depth of fullback isn’t as strong, as senior David Muniz and redshirt freshman Chris Jackson enter the season as the top choices. Muniz is expected to see the most snaps, but his biggest contributions over his collegiate career have been on special teams rather than offense. Still, the backfield is the Owls’ main offensive strength.

Wide receivers

“It’s all about good quarterback to wide receiver communication,” said Van Camp. “We have good wide receivers.”

Seniors Lester Jean and Avery Holley are expected to start and will most likely be Van Camp’s favored targets, but after this pair of receivers there is a lack of depth at the position. With the addition of seven lowerclassmen, four of them freshmen, the backups are young and mostly untested. That leaves a troubling situation for a team that has historically relied heavily on its passing game. Making matters worse was the younger receivers’ collective effort in the spring game, which left much to be desired. Despite their performance that day, Van Camp is still confident in their abilities.

Tight ends Redshirt senior Rob Housler and redshirt sophomore Darian Williams are strong blockers and good pass catchers who should see most of the repetitions this season. The duo were arguably ready to start last season, but were behind two talented incumbents on the depth chart. While Williams did see a bit of playing time in 2009, Housler redshirted in order to become a more integral part of the team. His combination of size and speed will help in the team’s two deep approaches and give the Owls a big target in the red zone. Like the wide receivers, this position’s weakness is its depth — or lack thereof. Housler and Williams should prove to be good

Offensive line With eight freshmen going into the season, the offensive line is the youngest position for the Owls. The unit’s inexperience will be put to the test, and judging from the spring game, things may be rough. Expected to start is redshirt senior Ed Wertepny, who saw action in every game last season but never received a start. His experience will be relied upon to teach the group of younger players that the coaching staff deem raw but capable. “Although they are inexperienced, they are a very talented offensive line,” said offensive coordinator Darryl Jackson. “I am

PHOTO BY RALPH NOTARO

+

Running backs and fullbacks

assets, but their backup is an untested true freshman in Alex Deleon.

Running back Alfred Morris is expected to carry a heavy load this season.

extremely confident about them. We just need to get them on the same page as the rest of the offense.” Van Camp shares that confidence, believing that the line will do a good job at protecting him from the pass rush. Morris also confides in the line’s ability to open running lanes. However, these skills have yet to be seen. The line’s spring game performance was mediocre, as it allowed the defense to put repeated pressure on the quarterback, causing forced and erratic throws. The offensive line will need to correct that in order for FAU’s offense to prosper, and to see if all the preseason praise from coaches and teammates is warranted.


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Running back’s off-field personality a big part of on-field success

15 • August 24, 2010 • University Press • www.upressonline.com • Special Edition

PHOTO BY LIZ DZURO

Big kid at heart


Alfed Morris may be a bruising running back, but he isn’t afraid to show off his playful side — like during the 2009 season, when he brought a plush Tigger backpack to all the games.

FRANCO PANIZO SPORTS EDITOR

PHOTO BY LIZ DZURO

Special Edition • www.upressonline.com • University Press •August 24, 2010 • 16

When Alfred Morris steps off the FAU offense charter bus in front of Legion Field for the Owls’ season opener next week, he will draw more attention than most during his walk toward the visitors’ locker room. While part of that is because he is a bulky, 5-foot-11-inch, 210-pound player, the main reason will be the travel bag sitting on his back: a bright orange plush Tigger backpack. Some of the nearby Blazers fans might heckle him for it, but Morris will have something more important in mind. After enjoying a dream first season as a starter, the redshirt junior running back has been trusted as one of the team’s leaders this year. The choice to make him one of the team’s most influential players isn’t solely due to the departure of Rusty Smith. Rather, it has been Morris’ behavior, both on and off the field, that has warranted the decision. “He’s very intelligent — not only in football, but academically and in his life’s choices,” said head coach Howard Schnellenberger. “That’s a very good overall trait to have to turn out to be a great football player. “What you see is what you get. He’s not a very complicated man. He’s very transparent and very honest and very considerate, and he’s what you hope each of your football players grow up to be.” Those traits were instilled in Morris at a young age by his parents, Ronald and Yvonne. As he grew up in Pensacola and discovered his love for football at the age of 5, Morris was taught humility, spirituality and a workmanlike ability, both on and off the gridiron. As a result, Morris excelled as a student, a player and a son. Along with making good grades and big plays, Morris rarely found himself in trouble, except for when his youthful curiosity got the better of him. “He’s always been an explorer, always trying new things,” said a laughing Yvonne as she explained her son’s biggest flaw as a child. “He would go exploring, just finding different things. I think that’s the only thing I really had trouble with. I didn’t have to spank him much. He was just a good kid.” The good kid evolved into an equally good football player. Under the tutelage of head coach Jerry Pollard at Pine Forest High School in Pensacola, Morris thrived, playing an integral role in the team’s successes, both as a bruising running back and run-stuffing linebacker. In his senior season with the Eagles, Morris rushed for 1,049 yards and 17 touchdowns while also recording 147 tackles and five interceptions. “Alfred was a great football player, a good student, a little bit of a clown and just a good guy,” said Pollard. “He’s a really good kid. I’m really, really glad Alfred is doing as well as he is.” In addition to his performances on the field, Morris’ humble and studious approach off the field left such an impact on Pollard that the coach still uses his former player as an example for his current crop of adolescents to learn from. “I point out to the fact that what a good student he was so he did have that opportunity to go and play at FAU,” said Pollard.

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ve got a lot of good athletes that, as ninth graders, they get sided and don’t do their work and get behind their GPA, ’s really tough to make it up. I point that out a lot.”

playful side

ile those who know Morris well often speak of his lined demeanor, they also refer to his fun-loving side as f the main ingredients to who he is. derneath the helmet and behind the young-looking but ed game face, Morris has a lighthearted nature. He said ome of his favorite movies include animated films such as ncredibles, Surf’s Up and Finding Nemo. childlike exuberance can also be seen around the Boca us as he walks to his classes greeting nearly everyone that wledges him with his trademark smile and laughter.

“I clown around sometimes, I’ve got a playful side,” said Morris, an exercise science major. “My thing is, you only live once. I don’t want to walk around with a stick up your butt being sour all the time. I have a sense of humor and I love laughing and I joke around. I know when to be serious, but for the most part, I’m a big kid.” Then there’s the Tigger backpack, which Alfred carried with him to every game during his record-setting 2009 season. “I like Tigger. My favorite color is red, but that orange-andblack combination is nice,” said Morris. “I remember growing up watching Winnie the Pooh in elementary, and Tigger was always my favorite. Little tiger coming and bouncing around on his tail and stuff, and he’s always laughing. He’s got that funny laugh, I can’t do it, but that’s funny. “I’ve got him sitting in the room now. He’s just waiting for the season to come back around so he can get out the room.”

The season

“My mom, my dad, my brothers — every time I’m on the field, I think about my family. They’re my motivation.” – Alfred Morris

Morris, too, is eagerly anticipating the opening kickoff against UAB on Sept. 2. After a dream first season as a starter, in which he rushed for 1,392 yards - a school record and Sun Belt Conference best — and scored a combined 13 touchdowns, Morris is hungry to get back on the field, but not because he

wants to nab more individual accolades. Morris is hoping he and the Owls can make amends for their lackluster 5-7 season, a season that ended with a win but without a bowl game, snapping FAU’s consecutive bowl game victories from the two years before. The redshirt junior, who is expected to take a leadership role this season, is also looking forward to playing a full season with quarterback Jeff Van Camp, who joined in the common refrain about Morris. “I know it seems like I’m just blowing steam up his butt, but he’s really a great guy,” said Van Camp of Morris’ selflessness. Van Camp took over for an injured Rusty Smith in 2009, and as a result, Morris began to see more passes thrown his way. “Last season, I don’t feel like Rusty had faith in me, just because what I was doing when I first got here — my catching really wasn’t all that,” said Morris. “I feel like he kind of handicapped me, but I don’t want them to handicap me by handicapping myself. I don’t want to be just a runner like most backs. I can run the ball good, I can block good, but that is one thing I had to work on, my catching.” To improve that facet of his game, Morris tagged along when Van Camp and wide receiver Lester Jean invited the running back to come to their throwing sessions during the summer. “They really helped me focus,” said Morris about his

17 • August 24, 2010 • University Press • www.upressonline.com • Special Edition

: At FAU, Morris has matured, ransforming from an Owls pecial teams contributor to the eam’s star player.

PHOTO BY LIZ DZURO

PHOTO COURTESY OF MORRIS’ FAMILY

: The Pensacola native shone in high shool as both a linebacker nd running back for the Pine orest Eagles.

PHOTO COURTESY OF MORRIS’ FAMILY

: The middle of seven brothers, Morris discovered his love for ootball at an early age.


PHOTO BY STEPHANIE COLAIANNI

receiving abilities. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t that I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t catch â&#x20AC;&#x201D; even though I went all through high school without catching a single pass because we just ran the ball a lot â&#x20AC;&#x201D; it was my focus. Once the ball comes to hand to catch it, I wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t look at the ball [coming] all the way in, like coach [Darryl] Jackson says. Doing that extra work with Van Camp and Lester, they just helped look the ball in more and focus and make sure I secure the ball before I try to run after the catch.â&#x20AC;? If those factors arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t enough to inspire Morris, then just thinking of his relatives will be. Morris admits that his family is what drives him to do well. â&#x20AC;&#x153;My mom, my dad, my brothers â&#x20AC;&#x201D; every time Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m on the ďŹ eld, I think about my family. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re my motivation,â&#x20AC;? said Morris, the middle son of seven brothers, one of whom was adopted.

The future

Special Edition â&#x20AC;˘ www.upressonline.com â&#x20AC;˘ University Press â&#x20AC;˘August 24, 2010 â&#x20AC;˘ 18

One thing working against Morris for the looming season is that he is no longer a surprise. In 2009, part of the reason he shone was that opposing defenses were unfamiliar with him, as he was basically a special teams player the year prior. Now defenses will have worked their game plans around stopping Morris. With a relatively young offensive line blocking for him (last yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ďŹ ve starters all graduated), things could get tricky for the tailback. But if last year proved anything, it is that more than one player will typically be required to bring down Morris, whose bruising running style wreaks havoc on defenders while also being the main culprit of opposing defensive coordinatorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; headaches. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When you hit him, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re going to feel it differently because usually you hit someone and you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t really have In his ďŹ rst year as a starter in 2009, Morris to move your feet,â&#x20AC;? said FAU linebacker Dino Cox. â&#x20AC;&#x153;But this ran over the competition, leading the Sun guy, he is going to keep moving his feet, so when you hit him, Belt Conference in rushing with 1,392 yards. if you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t keep running your feet then he is going to break the tackle.â&#x20AC;? Aside from the challenges that lie ahead of him this season, Morris has enough conďŹ dence in himself to predict that heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be in the NFL within a couple of years, an assessment Schnellenberger and Pollard agreed with. Morris wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be content with just being contracted with an NFL team. He also wants to help pave the way for the future crop of Owls. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I want to make it not only for myself â&#x20AC;&#x201D; to play with the best of the best â&#x20AC;&#x201D; but for my teammates,â&#x20AC;? said Morris. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Like Rusty got drafted and heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s opening the door for the rest of us behind him. Then, say if I get drafted or I go to the NFL, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just going to bring that much more attention to the program.â&#x20AC;? If that can match the attention Morris draws when stepping off the blue-clad FAU charter bus with his Tigger backpack, then it will be mission accomplished for the star player who doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t put â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;? before team.

FAU will improve your mind... So whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s left?

Morris by the numbers High school senior year:

First season as a starter for the Owls:

â&#x20AC;˘ rushed for 1,049 yards

â&#x20AC;˘ rushed

â&#x20AC;˘ scored 17 touchdowns

for a school record and Sun Belt Conference best 1,392 yards

â&#x20AC;˘ recorded 147 tackles

â&#x20AC;˘ scored

â&#x20AC;˘ grabbed 5 interceptions

downs

a combined 13 touch-

                 

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Gain Leadership Experience and Volunteer Hours Serve as a role model and provide encouragement to new FAU students Earn Monetary Compensation On Campus Housing for Summer 2011 (pending availability)

Want to find out more about becoming an OWL? Attend an informational session in the Royal Palm Room located on the second floor of the Student Union. Wednesday, September 1, 2010 @ 2 p.m. Thursday, September 9, 2010 @ 1 p.m. Tuesday, September 14, 2010 @ 11 a.m. Monday, September 20, 2010 @ 3 p.m. Friday, September 24, 2010 @ 11 a.m.

Office of New Student and Owl Family Programs Student Union, Room 220 ? 561.297.2733 ? orientme@fau.edu

19 • August 24, 2010 • University Press • www.upressonline.com • Special Edition

Want to become a 2011 OWL?

What are the benefits of being an OWL?


FAU Fraternity & Sorority Life

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More information, including the process to register for recruitment, may be found at our website: www.fau.edu/greeklife

Special Edition • www.upressonline.com • University Press •August 24, 2010 • 20

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21 • August 24, 2010 • University Press • www.upressonline.com • Special Edition

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Hopeful MARK GIBSON STAFF REPORTER It’s no secret that in terms of FAU’s defense, the 2009 season was a record-breaking disaster. Last season saw the defense set a school record for most yards allowed — twice. In a game against the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Owls surrendered a record 622 yards, only to allow Troy to rack up 651 total yards two weeks later. Those two games summed up the defense’s season. The defensive line failed to put pressure on the quarterback, the

Special Edition • www.upressonline.com • University Press •August 24, 2010 • 22

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Defensive line

The defensive line is relatively young, with Daniel Joseph and Dino Cox being the only grizzled seniors. But the same defensive line from 2009 is returning, with the exception of Josh Savidge, who graduated. A potential replacement for Savidge is true freshman Cory Henry from Carol City High School.

Upgrade linebackers were prone to missing tackles, and the cornerbacks and safeties constantly found themselves giving up big plays. The season was so awful that the typically loyal head coach Howard Schnellenberger relieved then-defensive coordinator Kirk Hoza from his duties. To turn things around this season, Schnellenberger has turned to long time assistant head coach Kurt Van Valkenburgh. “We have a lot to redeem ourselves from last year,” said Van Valkenburgh, the Owls’ new defensive coordinator. “We didn’t play the way we have played in the past and needed to play. We need to make big plays rather than give up big plays.” One temporary source of encouragement in 2009 was the

The unit’s biggest weakness is its inability to rush the passer, as far too often in 2009 opposing quarterbacks had seemingly all day to find an open man. “This season we’re going to do whatever it takes to get to the quarterback,” said Cox. “We’ll be the ones making the plays, not relying on the linebackers and defensive backs to do all the work.” With a fairly young line entering the season, don’t expect a spectacular turnaround. A minor upgrade is probable as seen in the spring game, where the defensive line helped force accurate quarterback Jeff Van Camp into making erratic throws.

strength of the special teams, but that unit began to crumble as the season progressed. To improve in 2010, Van Valkenburgh is whipping his defense into shape by working on execution. Making tackles on first contact, putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and plugging holes in the defensive line to stop the run are all things FAU is practicing heavily. In this year’s spring game, the defense lost but showed improvement. Its ability to pressure quarterback Jeff Van Camp caused him to make poor throwing decisions and may have been a sign that this defense is ready to bounce back in 2010. Here is how the UP grades and breaks down each position:

The coaching staff is hoping for improved play from senior linebacker Michael Lockley and the defense.

PHOTO BY RALPH NOTARO

New defensive coordinator Kurt Van Valkenburgh wishing for improved defensive display in 2010


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Cornerbacks The cornerbacks are the most experienced bunch on the defense, with Tarvoris Hill and Tavious Polo returning for their senior seasons, while junior Curtis Cross is also back. Hill and Polo are projected to start while Cross is likely to play nickelback. That doesn’t mean that the position doesn’t have its share of young players. Six newcomers will battle for playing time, including redshirt freshmen Treon Howard, Keith Reaser and

Safeties The defense seems to get stronger the further back from the line of scrimmage you look. Although fairly young, especially with three incoming freshmen, the safeties are the strongest part of the defense. Incumbents Ed Alexander and Marcus Bartels are back, filling the free safety and strong safety positions respectively. Alexander was the only defensive back to start in every game last season and he recorded a career-high 66 tackles. Bartels shone as the defense’s biggest

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Winfred Strickland. Even with the influx of youth, Van Valkenburgh was pleased with what he saw from his cornerbacks in the spring game. The cornerbacks were able to stick close to the wide receivers for the most part, causing the quarterbacks to force risky passes.

Special teams At the start of the 2009, the punting unit was ranked No. 1 nationally in negative return yards allowed. History could repeat itself as the core of special teams, including punter Mickey Groody, is returning this season. While the field goal unit wasn’t as flawless, kicker Ross Gornall did enjoy success when he wasn’t busy being rushed by defenders who had easily blown by FAU’s blockers. He did miss point after attempts on occasion, but his return is definitely a boost to the special teams.

Cornerback Tavious Polo (right) is one of playmaker, three projected senior starters in the Owls’ making one secondary. interception, forcing a fumble and blocking a kick. Unfortunately for the Owls, the position will be without Austin Jensen, who is redshirting due to injuries sustained in a car accident on I-95 in February. Jensen may not have been a starter, but his contributions will be missed.

But while kicking and punting were a high point for the Owls, kickoff and punt returns were not, and FAU is hoping to improve in those aspects. “We need to get more out of our kickoff and punt-returns game,” said Van Valkenburgh. “We were very inconsistent and had a lot of negative yards.” Just which player will return kicks remains unclear, but it could be cornerback Tavious Polo, who was in charge of most of the returning responsibilities last season. With the return game being the only aspect of this unit that could use improvement, FAU’s special teams look like the most promising group for the Owls.

23 • August 24, 2010 • University Press • www.upressonline.com • Special Edition

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The departure of Ed Bradwell subtracts experience from a linebacker core that, like the defensive line, is young. Sophomore David Hinds, who saw the field in a few games in 2009, is expected to return as a potential starter. Yourhighness Morgan also returns and is anticipated to contribute significantly. This season could also provide a glimpse of three freshman linebackers in Cory Davis, Michael Copeland and Justin Raymond.

This young group of players will look to seniors Michael Lockley and Malik Eugene, both of whom will need to show that they can provide veteran savvy. To improve from last season, all the linebackers will need to execute tackles better and get a good jump on snaps. “We’ve been working out and practicing harder,” said Lockley. “We’re focusing on execution and playing more physical.” With Bradwell being the only big loss and Lockley being a key player, the linebacker position hasn’t changed much. However, the inclusion of so many young players could be a weakness for the defense altogether.

PHOTO BY STEPHANIE COLAIANNI

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Linebackers


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Head Head to

A statistical comparison between FAU’s previous and current quarterbacks ALYSSA CUTTER STAFF REPORTER Rusty Smith became the first Owl ever drafted into the NFL in April, and while he was an FAU record breaker and a proven winner, his replacement, Jeff Van Camp, might be even better. Van Camp saw playing time as the starter last season after Smith went down with a shoulder injury, so here is a statistical analysis between the two in their respective first five starts in an Owls uniform:

Rusty Smith 6’5”, 230 2-3 72,126 914 6 15 0 3 5 7

Jeff Van Camp

Height, weight Team record Completions, attempts Yards thrown Passing touchdowns Yards rushed Rushing touchdowns Interceptions Fumbles Sacks

6’6”, 222 3-2 109, 184 1372 12 19 3 2 3 12

Photos by Ralph Notaro

Special Edition • www.upressonline.com • University Press •August 24, 2010 • 26


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*Sun Belt Conference game

27 • August 24, 2010 • University Press • www.upressonline.com • Special Edition

10/23/10 at Arkansas State in Jonesboro, Ark.*


STUDENT HEALTH SERVICES Is Here For You! Physical and mental health are important factors in a studentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s success in college. Student Health Services assists FAU students to succeed by providing quality health care and wellness education and resources that are essential for the academic and personal success of our students. On-campus clinics are available in Boca Raton, Jupiter and Davie, while medical services are provided by a community health care partner in the Treasure Coast area. Give us a call at (561) 297-3512 if you ever need to communicate with us about any health or wellness need. Or check our website http://www.shs.fau.edu/ for more information.

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Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Office FAU Boca Raton, SSB 226 561-297-3542 Northern Campuses Associate Dean of Students Office FAU Jupiter, SR 119 561-799-8521

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The Career Development Center assists all degree seeking FAU students and alumni with their career management needs. Visit the Career Development Center web site for more information on locations and services. SAME DAY ADVISING (Monday - Wednesday 1-3p.m.) Choosing a Major Resume Critiques Internship/Co-op Information Job Search Assistance

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Special Edition • www.upressonline.com • University Press •August 24, 2010 • 30

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University Press Volume 12 Issue 1  

UP Football Issue

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