WKU football blog: What they’re saying …

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I exchanged e-mails earlier this week with Ted Hutton of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Ted covers FAU football and was kind enough to answer a few questions.

Thanks to Ted in advance, and be sure to check out his Sun-Sentinel blog here: http://blogs.trb.com/sports/college/fau/blog/

 

NB:  I hear Rusty Smith has been dealing with a shoulder problem. Is there anything to this, and how much does it have to do with his struggles this season?

TH: The Rusty Smith saga is a fascinating one. Rusty may have been hurt, but what ails him right now is in his head. He went from what Schnellenberger was calling a sure Round 1 NFL pick to a struggling junior who isn’t coming close to matching his performance last season. We are not even sure if he really did separate his shoulder in the Texas game. Nobody ever said that until Smith did this Monday, so it was news to all of us, and Schnellenberger didn’t substantiate it. Regardless, it is all healed now, whatever it was, but Smith believes it threw off his mechanics. I have seen three things that are different this season: Smith is making some bad decisions by trying to do too much; the usually sure-handed receivers have been dropping balls at an alarming rate; and teams have found that they can blitz without getting burned, and Smith is under a lot more pressure. That is how you get 9 picks in 6 games, when he threw 9 all of last season (13 games).

 

NB: Is this FAU team currently one that struggled with success, a championship-hangover type situation? Or are there other factors at play here with regard to the Owls’ sluggish start?

TH: This is pure hangover. They have plenty of talent, speed, skill, strength, etc., but they had always been underdogs and thrived on that. They have shown the cape of favorite is not a good fit. They got off to a slow start and it just snowballed. The loss to Middle Tennessee was a real killer. There was no way they should have lost to that team, but they found a way, and that carried over to the Troy game. They have had a little break now, but I really don’t know if they can turn things around. Last year the ball bounced their way at nearly every opportunity. This year it is the opposite. Anything that can go wrong has. There have been some injuries, but this is a veteran team with depth, and they should not be struggling like they are. That is what has made this so strange. The coaches and players just can’t figure out what the heck has gone wrong and why they haven’t been able to snap out of it. They look great in practice, but when the whistle blows, they play like a bunch of true freshmen. Baffling.

 

NB: This is a unique game for WKU with regard to measuring itself against a defending Sun Belt champion. What exactly is the approach like for FAU this week?

TH: FAU needs a win. That is all they are thinking about. They are not taking anyone for granted. They view this game as the one that will turn the season around. They will come out playing hard because they are a desperate team. I said this about the Troy game, and it happened, so watch for this — if FAU turns the ball over early, they will be in trouble, because they will be thinking, “here we go again…” If they can protect the ball and get out to a lead, then they just might be OK.

 

NB: What was your opinion of the “dirty” accusations following the Troy game??

TH: I do not believe FAU used cheap shots to injure two of Troys players. When you run the spread, the QB is put in danger a lot, and that is what happened. He got stood up at the line and the pile collapsed on him, and bad things resulted. The Troy players agreed that the tackle was not dirty. But they were upset by what happened afterward, when they claimed FAU players were saying things like, “glad you’re out.” FAU players denied this, but I FAU does talk trash, so I am not going to declare them innocent. I will say that they do hit hard on defense, like to gang tackle, and go to the whistle, which is how they are coached. They did get whistled twice in the season opener at Texas for late hits on McCoy, but since then, they have behaved.

 

NB: While Smith hasn’t exactly lived up to his preseason billing, FAU linebacker Frantz Joseph certainly has — talk about the type of player he is.

TH: Frantz is a beast. I think he had 10 solo tackles at Middle. He is fast and strong and always near the ball. Great story to, son of a Haitian immigrant who never really knew his father. Went to Boston College, but transferred to FAU to be back near his mother, who is very poor and who he helps out as much as he can. He’s a great kid that is always smiling and whose goal is to get his degree and start a business and take care of his mother.

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One Response to “WKU football blog: What they’re saying …”

  1. Guy Down The Hall Says:

    Good stuff.
    TH has some great observations. Especially on the hangover question. Has to be frustrating to ANY coach to see this happen.

    Hope you can do this with other games too.

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