Sunday, August 3, 2008

Ready, Set, Practice!

Owls training camp begins Wednesday at 3:30 behind the Oxley Center. Heading into day one of practice, there are several major questions that face the Owls despite the fact that about 17 starters are returning from last year's championship squad. Among those questions:

1) Who will play tight end in place of the injured Jason Harmon? -- Rob Housler and Jamari Grant are candidates and will most likely split time. Grant has more experience but Housler may have the inside track for the starting job.

2) Will the defensive line be able to improve it's pass rush? -- Definitely. It couldn't be any worse than last year after half the line went down with season-ending injuries. It's a testament to the strength of the linebackers and defensive backs that the Owls were able to win 8 games with such poor QB pressure. The line improved as last year's fill-ins gained experience. This season should be a major improvement.

3) Who will play safety? -- Kris Bartels and Taheem Acevedo are gone. Who will take their spots? This is a major one that we'll have to keep an eye on throughout August.

4) Can Rusty Smith be as great as he was last year? -- I don't see why not. He had an unbelievable sophomore season, quite unexpectedly, after winning the preseason battle over Sean Clayton. Rusty now comes into 2008 as the undisputed starter and star of the offense, the Sun Belt, and the South Florida college football scene. Can he handle it? I think so.

5) Can the Owls keep their chip-on-the-shoulder swagger that made them so tough last year? -- Duh. Schnellenberger is the master of this type of motivation, especially with an August 30th date with Texas looming. The respect for Coach S in the Oxley Center borders on reverence. When he talks, everybody listens.

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