Bain wasn’t in a hurry. He knew full well that the trophy would end up in his arms.
“They were doing all that extra stuff,” Bain said. “I just knew once I got to that trophy, I was getting it.”
It’s easy to understand Bain’s willingness to take his time. As a member of the Owls’ offensive front five, he had a busy night.
The offensive line spent the previous three hours paving the way for 439 rushing yards in FAU’s 49-14 victory over FIU in the Shula Bowl. The line didn’t surrender a sack.
“It meant everything to go out with a bang as a senior,” said Bain, who, once he had control of the trophy, only shared it with injured senior linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair. “It means a lot.”
An offensive line that started slowly this season is finally playing the way the Owls imagined it would.
With Devin Singletary and Kerrith Whyte racing through holes opened by Bain and Co., the Owls are averaging 245.0 rushing yards per game, second best in Conference USA behind only UAB’s average of 253.7.
“Those guys deserve a lot of credit,” FAU coach Lane Kiffin said. “When you play like we do with the tempo, it is hard on those guys too because every other position subs.”
The Owls have only allowed 10 sacks in nine games, tied for the 10th fewest nationally.
There are plenty of reasons why FAU’s offense struggled this season. Offensive line play is no longer one of them.
“The more we play the more we bond,” graduate transfer center Junior Diaz said. “That helps out. I think we’re playing pretty good now but there’s always things we could correct. We’re working on that now.”
Correct mistakes. That was the mantra from FAU offensive linemen this week despite the fact they were coming off a game where running backs ran wild and the quarterbacks’ jerseys remained clean.
“I mean, we only threw the ball for, like, five times, so we’re suppose to have zero sacks,” Bain said. “We came in knowing that we wanted to run the ball and to see us do it, I was proud of that – that we executed.”
It’s a pretty good bet that FAU will continue to run the ball this against Western Kentucky.
Singletary leads Conference USA in rushing, averaging 113.4 yards per game. Kerrith Whyte’s 66.9 yards per game is sixth best in C-USA and he is barely shy of having enough carries to qualify for the national leader board, where his 7.0 yards per carry would be fifth best in the country.
“Coach Kiffin preaches on us being physical,” Bain said. “We want to run the ball first. That’s what we pride ourselves on – running the ball.”
A powerful rushing attack allowed FAU keep the Shula Bowl trophy in Boca Raton. It’s what the Owls hope will bring at least two victories in their final three games – thereby providing bowl eligibility.
That’s another reason why, on Saturday, Bain showed reluctance to let go of the trophy.
“It’s going to help up finish the season off,” Bain said.