BOCA RATON – Projected starting safety Jordan Helm will not play in Saturday’s game at Southern Miss, Owls’ coach Willie Taggart said on Monday.
Taggart didn’t give a specific reason for Helm’s expected absence, but FAUOwlAccess.com reported on Sunday that Helm and quarterback Justin Agner weren’t available for Saturday’s season-opening victory over Charlotte because of COVID-19 issues.
“I miss Jordan,” Taggart said. “His teammates had his back.”
Helm’s replacement, Armani Adams, recorded six tackles, including one for loss, in Saturday’s victory.
“I was really impressed with him to come into the game and play as well as he did with not as much reps as you would like to have going into a game,” Taggart said.
On Monday Taggart praised Adams, saying the redshirt-sophomore didn’t know until late in the week that he’d have to play a larger role in Saturday’s defensive game plan.
FAU has a scheduled bye week following Saturday’s tussle, and Taggart assured that Helm will be available the following week at Marshall.
That timeline would be in line with someone who had either tested positive or had been identified as part of a COVID-19 contact tracing effort.
After having its first two scheduled games canceled because of COVID-19 precautions, FAU was supposed to open its season on Sept. 19 at Georgia Southern. A COVID-19 outbreak among the Owls prompted the postponement of that game. That game has been rescheduled for Dec. 5, provided FAU doesn’t reach the C-USA Championship game.
Contact tracing at USF forced the postponement of the following week’s FAU.
In the week leading up to the Charlotte game Taggart said that the availability of approximately five players could be affected by COVID issues. Like all FAU students, players who test positive must be isolated for at least 10 days. Those identified by contact tracing but have not tested positive must be quarantined for 14 days.
With all the chaos surrounding the 2020 FAU football season, the emergence of Helms, a former walk-on, this fall has been a pleasant surprise. The redshirt-senior has 25 career tackles, most of which came on special teams. Taggart praised Helm’s intelligence and consistency during the first month of camp.
Taggart also announced that running backs B.J. Emmons, Saturday’s starter, and James Charles, the leading rusher among FAU running backs against Charlotte, are questionable for Saturday’s game. Emmons incurred an ankle injury on Saturday’s opening drive and only carried the ball four times. Charles suffered a stinger in the contest.
McCarthy Rewarded: Leighton McCarthy’s career performance against Charlotte on Saturday prompted Conference USA to name the senior its Defensive Player of the Week. McCarthy became only the eighth FAU player in history to record three sacks in a single game. One those sacks produced a fumble that FAU recovered. One play later the Owls found the end zone. McCarthy recorded 10 tackles on the afternoon. One media member from each institution’s media market votes on the weekly awards.