BOCA RATON – What’s FAU tried on defense to try to prevent the big plays – particularly on third down – that have plagued the Owls this season?
Put down the phone and pull up a chair. The answer may take a while.
“We could be here all day talking about that,” defensive coordinator Roc Bellantoni said. “Different words, shortening the amount of words we tell them, tweaking some coverages to limit what they have to do in coverage – really we could be here for two-and-a-half years talking about that.”
All of that talk has yet to become effective actions.
The Owls surrendered 11 touchdowns of 30 yards or longer in only eight games this season.
“I think they’re getting the message, they’re just maybe not making the play,” Bellantoni said. “They know, when they come to the sideline, they know what they did wrong. It’s just a matter of being more consistent, making our plays. It’s a broken record but it’s the truth.”
In Saturday’s 52-3 loss to Western Kentucky, the Owls allowed touchdown passes of 76, 54 and 65 yards. The Hilltoppers also found the end zone on a 30-yard run.
On the first touchdown the Owls simply saw WKU wide receiver Nicholas Norris raced past the Owls’ secondary. On another, FAU faced a formation it had prepared for all week only to make the mistake of failing to check out of a blitz.
“The only way I know how to get them to be better and play better, and make them better is continue to coach them and find different ways to coach them, different ways to get them to do things,” Bellantoni said. “But occasionally, guys, you either make a play or you’re not going to make a play.”
Too often for FAU, that play isn’t being made. The Owls, who have yet to beat an FBS team all season, tote the No. 120-ranked defense to Rice this weekend.
Junior cornerback Raekwon Williams says the problem isn’t with the defensive schemes, it’s with players.
“It is just applying the tools the coaches give us and just going out and executing,” he said. “So I don’t blame the coaches for nothing. I blame myself.”