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Scrimmages give reserves chance to flush out abilities, impress Schnellenberger

The Florida Atlantic University Owls football team practices all week for its regular season matches on Saturdays. But those games are not the only ones the athletes play on weekends.

On Sundays, the Owls play a team scrimmage, mostly with the reserve players, in what is known as the Toilet Bowl.

Despite the odd name, the event holds the key to FAU’s future on the gridiron.

The Toilet Bowl, which began during FAU’s inaugural season in 2001, helps coaches identify players who may be able to contribute in upcoming games.

“It gives them a chance to impress and prove their ready for playing time,” former FAU tight end Brandon Zeeb said. “The Toilet Bowl shows the coaches which players are hungry to get on the field.”

The contest is held every Sunday following a game the day before. It's a full-contact scrimmage from 1-3 p.m. in the field behind the Oxley Center. Admission is free for fans.

"It is the game that red-shirt athletes and walk-ons enjoy each Sunday after team meetings. These opportunities have to be fun as they go through the hard year of not playing on Saturday," head coach Howard Schnellenberger said.

"It is a great time to get young players ready faster," he said. "The varsity likes to watch and talk about their days. As I watch my two young quarterbacks this year, I can see the major jump they have made in confidence, ability, and approach.

"If not for the Toilet Bowl, David Kooi and Graham Wilbert would not be as far along, and that is true for all."

The idea dates to the coach's arrival at FAU.

“It is something that Schnellenberger arranged when he started up the program,” said WEFL-760 AM broadcaster Ken Lavicka.

"It is very intense, especially the day after a game” said Troy Niblack, a red-shirt freshman.

The regular players who attend the session stick to regeneration exercises, such as riding the electronic bicycles, and going through light jogs and stretches.

“Being a freshman, you never have the full experience for college football. In the Toilet Bowl you get to test your ability against other division one talent,” said Brentley Harstad, another red-shirt freshman.

Not only does it prepare younger players for the game, but it also enhances their football careers.

“The Toilet Bowl is extremely beneficial because it’s allowing me to get better by remembering plays and expanding my knowledge of the game,” said Chris Eterno. a defensive linebacker.

“It always gets live out there it’s a good view point for fans that want to see what the future of FAU’s football team holds,” Harstad said.

“It gets real intense out there,” said Zeeb, who left the FAU football team after the 2008 season. “I used to partake in the game every Sunday, and I looked forward to it just as much as our regular game days. Guys know that is a chance to prove your worth, so you see lots of hard hits and big plays.”

And while the consensus among the former and current players is that the Toilet Bowl serves a purpose, none know why it is named as such.

"The coach never said why he named it the Toilet Bowl,” said Lavicka with a smile on his face. “If you know Schnnellenberger at all though, then you know how he operates. There is no rhyme to his reason, and he likely just did it thinking it was catchy.”




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