Boca Raton - Just in case his teammates might forget who the Owls face in a little more than two weeks, defensive lineman Josh Savidge offers frequent reminders during practice.
" Nebraska," he yells, "Got to be ready for Nebraska."
Savidge is one of just two senior starters on the defense
and the only one who has been four-year starter, and thus is
expected to be the unit's leader.
That role is even more important given the inexperience of
the defense, which returns three starters.
"It is a match made in heaven," coach
Howard Schnellenberger said about having the leadership
role handed to Savidge (6-2, 285).
And it is a role Savidge relishes.
"Honestly, the greatest feeling in the world is being the
omly senior lineman, the senior leader that they are lookup
up to," Savidge wrote in his biography for FAU's football
"It is awesome to be the guy who my teammates want to follow
into battle. It is the most incredible feeling in the
And the players want to play well for Savidge.
"He's a senior and we want this season to be big for him.
He's been here a long time and done a lot for this team,"
said defensive tackle Dino Cox.
Savidge has done a lot, starting as a true freshman in 2005
and playing in every game in three seasons, and four in 2007
before a knee injury in the fourth game forced him to get a
He has played in 40 games and if he stays injury free, will
leave FAU with a record of 32 or 53 games played that will
be tough to top.
The defense, which was expected to struggle due to its
inexperience, if off to a strong start in preseason camp.
The defense dominated the offense in the first scrimmage on
Saturday, and that has put a jump in their step and they
have looked sharp this week in practice while the offense
still seems out of synch.
"We can keep this up. Esprit de corps, like coach [Rod]
Payne says," Savidge said. Payne, the defensive tackles
coach who joined the FAU staff before spring practices, is
credited with bringing new energy and new emphasis on
techniques to the defensive line.
The line, bolstered by the play of Kevin Cyrille and Daniel
Joseph on the ends, looked good in the spring and better in
the first scrimmage.
They put pressure on the quarterback and helped disrupt the
run despite having three new starters.
Who will start at tackle beside Savidge is still in flux, as
Cox (6-3, 260) and Jarvis Givens (6-3, 305) are in a battle
for that spot, and will be joined by Andy Czuprynski (6-5,
255) when he returns from an ankle injury.