FAU quarterback Graham Wilbert looks downfield in the Owls' 31-17 loss at Middle Tennessee last week. (Photo Courtesy of Ralph Notaro/ Owl Pix)
Florida Atlantic coach Carl Pelini wants more than to just learn about his team when the Owls face No. 7 Georgia on Saturday. He wants everyone involved with the program to take notice of the whole game day experience in Athens, Ga.
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BOCA RATON – Florida Atlantic coach Carl Pelini is hoping Saturday's game at No. 7 Georgia doesn't provide just a big paycheck.
Pelini wants everyone with a stake in the FAU football program to take notice at how it's done at a traditional power.
And that means even off the field.
“I want our players to share my vision ," Pelini said. "I want our administration to share my vision. I want the school administration to share my vision and to go up when we play a team that is a perrenial top 20 team and see not just on the football field but the organization itself and how they conduct game day and how their players act on the field, and how their players prepare, and how they execute, and how their athletic staff administration as a whole conducts their game experience. All those things are positive things for a school like FAU because that’s what my vision for this program ultimately would be.”
FAU will have plenty to take in at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga. and will also take in a cool million – the most FAU has earned for a football game - for its trouble.
The Owls know playing the Bulldogs will be a challenge, but are embracing the chance to play in a big-time college football environment.
“It's not an atmosphere we see every day, obviously,” said FAU senior quarterback Graham Wilbert, who made his first start last season against Florida in The Swamp. “It's a different experience than a Sun Belt game, that's for sure. It's a lot more amped-up, I guess.”
FAU senior linebacker David Hinds is also excited to face Georgia.
“It's a great experience,” Hinds said. “They are a big school and it's SEC football. They have a lot of fans and it's a big stadium. It's a great opportunity just to face those guys. When you are in the Sun Belt Conference, compared to the SEC, it's just a different atmosphere. It's just fun and it's a great opportunity to make something happen.”
Keys To The Game: FAU at No. 7 Georgia
Key For Owls
Grind it out: FAU's running game struggled last week at Middle Tennessee, but the Owls are going to need it this week vs. the Bulldogs. If FAU can run the ball, it can run time off the clock and limit the number of Bulldogs' possessions.
Key For Bulldogs
Look out for long plays: In last week's 41-20 victory vs. Missouri, the Bulldogs defense gave up two touchdowns on pass plays of over 40 yards. The Owls haven't gone deep very often, but could they have seen something on that tape to exploit? For FAU this could be the time to try and stretch the field and the Bulldogs need to be ready (just in case).
FAU defensive tackles Trevon Coley and Brandin Bryant vs. Georgia's interior offensive line: Coley, a true freshman and Bryant, a redshirt freshman who may make his first start vs. Georgia, will their hands full with the Bulldogs' big inside guys (averaging over 300 pounds). Georgia has given up five sacks this season, but Coley and Bryant will need to grow up in a hurry as the Owls try and control the line of scrimmage.
- 12: Consecutive regular-season victories for Georgia
- 6: Number of games FAU has played vs. SEC teams. The Owls have faced Florida (0-2) South Carolina (0-2) Auburn (0-1) and Kentucky (0-1)
- 171.8: Pass efficiency rating for Graham Wilbert, which leads the Sun Belt Conference.