A Close Look at the Owls

Florida Atlantic is coming to Bill Snyder Family Stadium to play the Wildcat football team a week after losing its season opener 54-6 on the road against the No. 18-ranked Clemson Tigers. After last week, the Cats look to rebound and work through the problems that plagued them in their season opener. Let's take a closer look at the Owls!

The Owls might have been heavily outscored and outmatched, but they managed to rush for 47 total yards, while netting 216 yards passing and achieving 18 first downs.

All these stats are higher than what K-State put up (44 rushing, 163 passing and 13 first downs) in its season debut last Saturday against Division I-AA Illinois State.

Florida Atlantic is led by Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger, who has been around the game for over 40 years. He was an offensive coordinator for the legendary Paul "Bear" Bryant when they coached the Alabama Crimson Tide to national titles in 1961, 1964 and 1965. He was also the offensive coordinator for the undefeated 1972 National Football League's Miami Dolphins, and the head coach for the 1983 national-champion Miami Hurricane team that defeated Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.

K-State coach Ron Prince said he has a lot of respect for Schnellenberger, and he and his players are not overlooking this team from Boca Raton, Fla.

"It's going to be our challenge to see how physical of a game both sides of the ball can make it," Prince said. "This is a young team with a significant amount of talent. They have a lot of guys who we will be looking out for and we will need to make sure that we are aware of their presence the whole time that they are on the field."

Two of the players Prince said had the ability to change the outcome of the game are left tackle Nello Faulk and fullback Aaron Sanchez.

"I am really impressed with the left tackle and I'm sure his coaches have shown him over and over again the job that Ian Campbell did last week (three sacks), and I anticipate they will have a good plan for him," Prince said. "Sanchez is a veteran player who they use in a variety of ways. I expect that they will try to replicate some of the things that we saw from No. 5 (Illinois State's running back Pierre Rembert, who rushed for 105 yards against the Wildcats) last week."

One of the more intriguing positions for Florida Atlantic is at quarterback.

Redshirt freshman Rusty Smith earned the start against Clemson, and was 9-for-21 for 104 yards passing. Junior Sean Clayton relieved Smith during the game, and went 11-for-22 for 112 yards.

After Clayton's performance against Clemson, Owl coach Howard Schnellenberger decided to name him the starter for Saturday's game against the Wildcats.

"Clayton and Smith have a little competition going on there, and I think that brings out the best in all people," Prince said. "I would anticipate them both playing really well." The main weapon for whoever is throwing the ball will be tight end Jamari Grant. Prince said Grant plays the position exactly like what he is looking for in his K-State tight ends, in that he is a big target and can get down the field with some speed.

"The X-factor of the whole offense is Grant," Prince said. "He is a very athletic player and they will try to get him the ball in many different ways, which was apparent in how they tried to play Clemson."

The leader on the defensive side of the ball is linebacker Cergile Sincere because, like Prince said, he is all over the place and constantly making big plays.

"These guys are a very fast bunch of Florida boys," said safety Marcus Watts. "They have a lot of team speed, but we also think we have a lot of team speed. Hopefully we can come out and be the more aggressive team and get the job done."

Watts and the rest of the Wildcats get their chance to do just that at 6:10 p.m. Saturday when the Owls come to town.

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