We’re one day away from kickoff, people. Let us rejoice and be glad.
To help tide us over for the next 24 hours, Chuck King of OwlAccess.com joins us to discuss the Florida Atlantic Owls, their QB situation, their star running back, former Oklahoma Sooners head coach and FAU football godfather Howard Schnellenberger, and more!
1. At this moment in time, a starting quarterback has still not been named. Whether it ends up being DeAndre Johnson of Last Chance U fame, former Sooner Chris Robison or SMU transfer Rafe Peavey, do you think there’s a decent chance that Lane Kiffin will play more than one QB in this one?
I think that’s almost a certainty. In fact, I suspect that all three will play. Kiffin said on Wednesday that he wouldn’t hold Robison out of the game in Norman simply to spare him from what is expected to be a boisterous crowd. The only way I see one quarterback playing the entire game is if that QB starts off hot and stays that way.
2. After rushing for over 1,900 yards in 2017, running back Devin Singletary is receiving plenty of preseason hype. What about him stands out?
Well, Sooner fans aren’t going to like hearing this, but he’s got a little bit of Barry Sanders in him. Singletary has tremendous vision and lateral cutting ability. Rarely does the first tackler bring him to the ground. You’ll also see that he can head into a pile of tackles and emerge on the other side. Not predicting that he’s going to run for 200 yards on Saturday, but he’ll certainly make a fun runs that will impress football fans.
3. Other than Singletary, who are some other offensive weapons that deserve mention?
The offense is rebuilding in a sense. The Owls lost their three starting interior linemen, two of their top three wide receivers and their starting quarterback. Tight end Harrison Bryant is a future NFL player, as is left tackle Reggie Bain. Wide receiver Jovon Durante sat out last year after transferring from West Virginia. As a Mountaineer, he played two games against Oklahoma, catching touchdowns in both of them.
4. On the defensive side, Lincoln Riley has given praise to safety Jalen Young and linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, even comparing the latter’s talent to that of Roquan Smith. Who else should we know about on that side of the ball?
Defensive end Hunter Snyder stands 6-foot-7 and is fast off the ball. It will be interesting to see how he fares against what is probably the best offensive line he’ll face all year. FAU has a legacy of sending cornerbacks to the NFL. Starters Shelton Lewis and Chris Tooley both have realistic NFL aspirations, and nickel Herb Miller will almost certainly play professionally.
5. With all the preseason hype and expectations surrounding this team, how confident are FAU fans in a potential upset?
Way too confident. FAU has better athletes than people give the Owls credit for, but Oklahoma is the No. 7 team in the nation for a reason. If FAU plays well, they will give the Sooners a game. But these kinds of early season upsets usually occur when the underdog sneaks up on the favorite. With Lane Kiffin at the helm and the Owls being the chic Week I upset pick, I doubt FAU catches Oklahoma by surprise.
6. Speaking of hype, an argument can be made that this is the biggest game in the history of FAU football up to this point. How many FAU fans do you think will make the trip to Norman?
Seven. Maybe nine. FAU fans don’t attend home games. They are not setting up a big ole’ convoy and heading to Oklahoma. As for the argument that this is the biggest game in FAU history, I think you’re using a bit of hyperbole there. Should FAU win, it would be the biggest victory in FAU history. If you think it’s a big game because Oklahoma is a big-name opponent, well FAU has played Alabama when they were No., 1, Georgia when they were No. 5, Auburn, Clemson and Texas, among others over the years. Last year’s Conference USA championship game was more important than this game.
7. Sticking with this topic, if you could paint a picture of this fan base, what would you include? Is the fan base growing? Is the community of Boca Raton (which is comprised of its fair share of retirees and snow birds) embracing the Owls?
It’s growing, but slower than most would like. FAU’s first year of football was 2001. Most people in Florida still divide their loyalties between Miami, Florida and Florida St. New athletic director Brian White is making a concerted effort to get the community more involved.
8. We can’t talk about FAU without acknowledging The Colonel, can we? Is Howard Schnellenberger a beloved figure in those parts? Is he still around the FAU program?
Coach is doing well. He and Beverly still live in the area and attend games. I’m hearing there will be a greater effort to incorporate him into game days this season. He’s a treasure and should be in the Hall of Fame.
9. How do you see this one playing out? What’s your score predication?
I don’t predict scores, so I’ll leave that up to your imagination. I do believe that FAU has the athletes to give Oklahoma a better game than the Sooners might expect. I think the folks in Vegas will be paying close attention in the fourth quarter.
10. What’s one fact about FAU football that you’d like Oklahoma fans to know?
FAU had a quarterback battle during its first season, too. Schnellenberger ultimately decided that the battle was too close to call, so he flipped a coin. The quarterback who called the toss correctly would start the game and play the first half. The loser played the second half. Freshman Jared Allen lost that toss, but started every game but one the rest of his career. After signing as an undrafted free agent with Tampa Bay, Allen ultimately played in the World League, and was one of the two starting quarterbacks in the final World Bowl. Allen is from Edmond, Okla. and is expected to attend Saturday’s game.