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November 1, 2011

Scouting Report: Florida Atlantic

Arkansas State is coming off of their fifth straight win following a 37-14 victory over North Texas.

While Red Wolf fans are excited about the possibilities that this season could bring to include a possible bowl bid, coach Hugh Freeze stated that he is just not going to talk about that following the victory over the Mean Green.

"We just aren't going to talk about it. We are going to enjoy it tonight then worry about FAU,"said Freeze "Just because we have six wins doesn't guarantee we are going to play in any bowl game."

With a 4-0 start in Sun Belt Conference action, ASU is off to its best start as a member of any league since 1986 when it was a 1-AA member in the Southland Conference. The five-game winning streak is also the best since the same season.

Florida Atlantic is coming off of a 38-14 loss to Middle Tennessee, and Coach Howard Schnellenberger's team has struggled all season, failing to have won a single game this year.

The Owls have struggled at quarterback, and have played as many as three signal callers this season in order to find some rhythm. Against Middle Tennessee, Schnellenberger played two quarterbacks to include freshman Stephen Curtis and junior Graham Wilbert. Junior David Kooi has also played this season, but did not play in last week's game.

Against Middle Tennessee, Wilbert completed only 10 of his 24 attempts and lost 39 yards rushing, 20 of those yards came off of sacks.

Schnellenberger plans on using Curtis in the "Wildcat" formation.

"[Curtis] has done a lot of 'wildcat' kind of stuff," Schnellenberger said. "We plan on doing a little bit more of that with him. He's had one good game and that doesn't make him, but he's a good prospect."

Offensively, the Owls have struggled, and is either last or tied for last in several categories in the Sun Belt Conference to include scoring (11.7 points per game), total offense (221 yards), rushing offense (85.7), passing offense (135.3). They are also 22-of-91 on third down conversions, 2-of-9 on fourth down, and minus -0.71 in their turnover margin.

Defensively, the Owls are giving up 34.4 points per game, and are ranked 62nd in the country in total defense. They are giving up an average of 383 yards per game.

FAU Players To Watch

  • Senior RB Alfred Morris needs 185 yards to pass Charles Pierre (3,069 yards) and become FAU's all-time leading rusher after his 153-yard effort against Middle Tennessee.

  • Senior RB Willie Floyd, who has had an injury-plagued career, leads the Sun Belt in kickoff return average at 23.8 yards per attempt. He ranks 47th nationally.

  • Senior P Mickey Groody is second in the conference with his 42.5 punting average.

  • Junior LB David Hinds is fourth in the league in tackles with his average of 8.6 stops a game.

  • Sophomore PK Vinny Zaccario is 6-of-7 on field goals.

    Potential Trap Game

    This is a game that Arkansas State can not afford to overlook. The Red Wolves have never won at FAU, and it would be easy for the players to potentially overlook the Owls given their record and struggles on the field.

    However, with Schnellenberger announcing his retirement, his team will be looking to send him out on a winning note. There would be no better way to do so than sneaking up and earning a win on a team which could potentially win the Sun Belt Championship. This is something Freeze and his staff are already thinking about.

    "I just want us to take care of us. We are going on the road to a place we have never won," Freeze said. "Arkansas State has never won at FAU (Florida Atlantic). It's another part of our crossing the Jordan so to speak. We are going to enjoy the night. I'm not going to get caught up in talking about bowl games and such. I just want to win another conference game."

    On paper the Red Wolves certainly have the advantage. If they can take care of business on the field, they should earn another Sun Belt Conference road victory, which would set them up for a showdown in Jonesboro next week with Louisiana-Lafayette for the Sun Belt Championship.

    Prediction

    RedWolfReport.com feels that Coach Freeze has his team headed not only in the right direction, but we feel he and his staff will have them in the correct mindset this weekend.

    Final Score: Arkansas State 48 Florida Atlantic 13

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