BOCA RATON – If Florida Atlantic has proven anything during its first season under Willie Taggart it’s that the Owls can beat bad football teams.
FAU’s five wins this season have against teams that, entering Saturday, have won a combined 10 games – eight against FBS-level programs. Of those eight FBS wins only one – UTSA’s season-opening three-point victory over Texas St. of the Sun Belt – came outside of the embarrassingly weak Conference USA.
At least FAU is winning these games. In years past that wouldn’t have necessarily been the case.
Maybe beating up weak teams is a sort of karmic justice for an FAU program that spent most of its first two decades as an early season punching bag for Power 5 opponents, often facing several Top 25 teams to open the season. But how good is this FAU team, really? And how good should FAU fans feel about a team that’s so inept offensively that it’s using the final minute of a game it has well in hand to try to develop what is statistically one of the worst passing games in the nation?
Barring the addition of a Dec. 19 game, FAU (5-1, 4-1) will finish the regular season with a winning record. There’s no reason the Owls can’t win out. FAU’s next two games are against at an MTSU team that has only beaten FIU and Rice, and a Southern Miss squad that’s on its third head coach in two months.
While the regular season finale currently pits FAU against a Georgia Southern team boasting five wins, the Eagles passing attack is nearly as bad as the Owls’. Ga. Southern’s composite computer ranking sits at a robust 95.
Pulses around Boca Raton are quickening with excitement.
FOUR DOWN TERRITORY: FAU (5-1, 4-1) 24, UMass 2 (0-3)
Game MVP: Ahman Ross. He, along with Chase Lasater, led FAU with six tackles. Teja Young and David Belvin both intercepted a pass and recorded a tackle. Leighton McCarthy, Ryan Veingard and Evan Anderson all sacked Minutemen quarterbacks. It’s hard to pick one standout because the unit as a whole played suffocating defense. Ross is their leader. He gets the nod.
Biggest Surprise: He’s still young, but at the moment Javion Posey is woefully inadequate as a passer. Yes, watching the redshirt freshman make people miss is entertaining, but it’s as troubling – if not moreso – to see him wildly miss open receivers downfield or fail to see them altogether. Posey had plenty of targets running free but couldn’t get them the ball. At the moment there’s little reason for defenses to cover any receiver that’s further than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage. Even UMass figured that out. On a side note, Nick Tronti completed both of his passes on Friday, including the game’s lone passing TD.
Controversial Call: Posey and the passing game were so bad that FAU resorted to a trick play – a wide receiver pass – late in the fourth quarter when the game was well in hand. Then, with a little more than one minute remaining in the game, FAU attempted three consecutive passes against a group of Minuteman scrubs who wouldn’t make the Owls’ scout team. Those were Bush League decisions that should be an embarrassment to FAU’s athletic department.
Extra Point: How many times does FAU need to lose yardage running the read option into the line on first down before the Owls alter their play calls? Willie Taggart is considered an offensive coach. The Owls have co-offensive coordinators in Drew Mehringer and Clint Trickett. Does it really require three offensive minds to create a plan of attack reminiscent of a Pop Warner game? Why not bring back the Wing T offense and save some money on salaries?