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June 27, 2008

Question from Mary
I have some questions about the quarterbacks.

If Rusty has a breakout year in '08 (winning against Texas and MSU), are you going to suggest that he register for the NFL draft or would you advise him to stick around and prove his senior year?

Will we see VanCamp playing half the game, you know Rusty in one quarter than Jeff in the next and so on, like Rusty and Clayton did in '06?

One last thing, you have five quarterbacks now... does that mean you won't be recruiting quarterbacks for awhile?

Response from Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger
Rusty has already had a breakout year, in the second half of í07. By that time Rusty had developed into a premier quarterback. Though he did get better from game-to-game in the second half of the season, the 2008 season will be a continuation of his exceptional performance and will be refined as games go by.

On the NFL Draft, letís not put the cart a year a head of the horse, with Rusty beginning his junior year of eligibility. His attention and development will be confined to the practices and games played. We will answer the NFL question after this year goes by.

Player rotation: Certainly, Rusty is the most experienced and gives us the best chance to win the football game. So we will employ the same tactics as we have in years past, both here and at my previous coaching assignments, when we have a situation with one established quarterback an another one whoís main objective is to get some game experience. The second quarter has always been the best quarter to acquire that experience for your up and coming quarterback. The game is still on the line and if the performances are great, they will come against top of the line competition. If mistakes are made you still have time to overcome them.

Recruiting another quarterback: In our system, it is always imperative to have at least one new quarterback coming into camp each year. This position is so essential for the development of a championship team. We can only error on the side of having too many quarterbacks and never too few.

Question from Marcus
Hello Coach...
You've stated several times that the eventual goal is for us to contend for a national championship and that opportunity is only available to us as a BCS team.

You specifically have mentioned the Big East as a possible route to accomplish that goal.

However, as I understand it UCF and FIU are also hoping to join the Big East in the near future. UCF is obviously a little further along (in fanbase, facilities and talent) than FIU but five years down the line... who knows?

My concern is that the Big East splits soon, takes Memphis and UCF and essentially nullifies our chances of moving into that conference because it already has USF and UCF, so to take on a third Florida school might be too much.

If that were the case, what would our course of action be? Fill in UCF's spot in Conference USA? That's not a BCS conference either but it has more bowl opportunities and TV packages... would we try to get into a conference like the ACC? I feel like it's the same issue there, with Miami and FSU already in the ACC.

What are your thoughts?

Response from Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger
First, with South Florida already being in the conference and the possibility of Central Florida moving in that direction, neither of them fill the position that Miami vacated. This spot in south Florida, that is serviced by the Miami and West Palm Beach media markets combined, gives us the unique opportunity to fill that position from our spot here in Boca Raton.

Question from Football Free J.
Coach in watching your games last year, I notice that there was a fall off from your defenses of the past. What's the plan for The Owls to get more pressure on QBs and do you have any prospects to help in this area pass rush)this upcoming season?

Response from Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger
Our pass rush was hurt by the injuries to Savidge and Pinnick. Both injuries happened in the fourth game of the year. Pinnick has graduated and Savidge has recovered. The development of (Michael) Hancock and (Jermaine)Council and the continued fine play of Jervonte Jackson and (Robert) St. Clair along with newcomers Johnson and Cox gives us a real opportunity to have a classic four-man rush. This would give us the luxury of playing coverage most of the time. If (George) Allen can replace Sincere, if (Greg) Joseph can play as well or better than (Taheem) Acevedo and if (Cardayle) Brantley or (Austin) Jensen can fill the spot of strong safety the combination of new faster defensive lineman, solid linebacker and secondary will give us the opportunity to get a pass rush with four down linemen. This would allow us to play various defenses and not blitz when we donít want to and will allow us to be a better defense.

Question from Greg
My 17 year old son is an avid football fan and is looking at coming to FAU when he graduates next year. He's interested in getting into coaching. Any insight, suggestions, etc you can give would be greatly appreciated.

Also, he recently became an Eagle Scout and he has his Eagle Scout ceremony coming up. Is there any way I could ask of you to send him a congratulatory letter on his accomplishment? Only 5 to 7% of Boy Scouts make it to Eagle Scout. Thanks and GO FAU!! I'm sure he'll be there in another year.

Response from Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger
Being a father, I understand your desire to have your sonís life laid out in perfect harmony. Letís allow him to enjoy his final year of high school and college will be the finest time of his life.

I will write the letter if you send his certificate of accomplishment along with his name and address. I would be happy to write a letter of congratulations.

Question from Donny
During the bowl game last year, Wilfred Rivera blocked a fourth down Memphis kick that we later recovered by falling on it. I contrast that to one of the plays in the first half of the UF/FAU game, where an FAU kick was blocked and then returned for a touchdown.

In practice, do you have an exercise where players line up, balls are thrown on the ground, and players have to run, pick up the ball and return it for a "touchdown" with little to no loss of speed? It seems like a good idea but I don't know if that's something you would consider worth the emphasis in practice.


Response from Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger
Yes we do.

Question from Shel
I was in attendance at the Home Owners Association Federation meeting at City Hall a few weeks ago. Thought your presentation was excellent. I couldn't help but mention to you how we miss Memorial Stadium and the "likes of Irsay and Thomas"! Probably two of the most arrogant and ***** people I've ever met. I was friendly with John Unitas and what he and the rest of you were put through by the Baltimore Colt front office was despicable. We've been in Boca Raton for the last twelve years--and as an avid Baltimore Colt fan-- I still bear the scars of the Irsay regime! Would enjoy talking with you more about the "good times" (and there were some) in Baltimore. Hope the Owls have a great season, and maybe I'll see you at one of the games.

Response from Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger
You are right. It was the worst and the best. The best of the best was December 9, 1973 after noon in the Asylum that I think was on 39th street when Don Shula brought his defending undefeated World Championship Miami Dolphins team to town in the second to last game of the season. The Dolphins were 12-1. One of the wins came on the opening game of that same year when I brought my Colts team into the Orange Bowl on a hot and humid Sunday afternoon at 1 oíclock and was out classed by the Miami team. It was worse than I had ever been outclassed. The score ended up 44-0 and it could have been double the score. Mercury ran two punts back and ran for 100 yards. Larry Csonka mashed us for 100 yards and by games end I couldnít find anybody sitting on the bench with a towel on their head that even wanted to go back into the game.

After that game we improved as a team because we got beat a lot early and by one-sided losses, but gained confidence and experience. So on that fateful day in December, with an offensive scheme that was very simple. We will not punt the ball on the fourth down. Our defense played superior and the offense played better than we knew how and we had fourth down on four occasions. We ran for two first downs, lined up in punt formation and ran for another first down and faked a field goal which gave us the major one sided time of possession and we won the game 16-3.

That led to a victory over another team that had beaten us earlier, the New England Patriots. I canít give you chapter and verse on that game, but to say we won two in a row, the last two of the year.

That might be all the good that happened so I will leave it there.

Question from Dan
Hi Coach,

Where are we going to play for the 2009 season?

Is the idea for a temporary stadium on-campus still valid or is that option dead in the water because of high cost?

If we somehow went undefeated in 2008, would we be passed over for the National Championship game because we don't have a BCS affiliation or a 45k average fan attendance?

Thank you!

Response from Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger
Our contract with Lockhart runs through 2009. In all probability, we will live up to the contract.

If we went undefeated we like Boise State, would have an opportunity to be voted into that Bowl Game. Whether we would have that popularity is problematic.

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