PHOTO GALLERY: FAU 45, Bethune-Cookman 0
Each Sunday our Chuck King and Matt Wilson breakdown the previous game. What impressed? Where do the Owls need to improve? It’s all below.
Chuck King: It’s not surprising that the defense played well – it has shown week-to-week improvement. It is surprising that it dominated. FAU allowed Bethune-Cookman only 117 yards of total offense in the game, and 39 of those yards came on the Wildcats’ first possession. The Owls shutout an opponent for the first time since 2006. Sure, Bethune-Cookman is an FCS team and should have been handled easily. But the Wildcats aren’t bereft of talent, and in previous years FAU would have allowed a couple of big plays that resulted in points.
Matt Wilson: The way the FAU defense completely shut down the Wildcats. The Owls forced two turnovers and recorded their first four sacks of the season. The front seven did a good job of disrupting the quarterback, something they haven’t shown they could do this season. Allowing only 117 yards to the B-CU offense was impressive, too.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Chuck King: Really wanted to give this to center Antonyo Woods as a nod to his improvement snapping specifically and the general play off the offensive line. Woods’ snaps aren’t automatic yet, but his improvement deserves recognition. Defensive tackle Will Davis also received consideration for his disruptive play, which included the first FAU sack of the year. But this has to be cornerback Chris Tooley, who notched his second interception of the season and scored the first defensive touchdown of the season, doing so on a fourth quarter fumble return. Tooley also recorded two tackles in a performance that could earn him Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Matt Wilson: Buddy Howell had an explosive game that included 175 of FAU’s record-breaking 439 rushing yards. He also added a score in the third quarter that came two plays after he ripped off a 60-yard run. He’s a major asset for the Owls that had been underutilized during the first two games. Howell averaged 13.5 yards per carry in the game, raising his average for the season to 12.1 yards per carry.
Chuck King: Moments after taking a 7-0 first quarter lead, FAU elected to try an onside kick. Kicker Greg Joseph dribbled the ball forward and it was knocked around for a few seconds before Ray Wilson ultimately fell on it, giving the Owls the ball back. FAU scored on the ensuing possession and the outcome of the game was never really in doubt afterward. Had FAU not recovered the kick, coach Lane Kiffin and special teams coordinator Corey Batoon would have been roundly second guessed. Both deserve credit for locating and exploiting a weakness, and the FAU kickoff squad gets recognition for their execution.
Matt Wilson: The Owls elected to start wide receiver Kamrin Solomon in his first game back after serving a two-game suspension for his role in the off-campus fight that also led to the arrest of fellow wide receiver Kalib Woods. FAU actively tried to get Solomon involved early, including calling a play for him on the game’s second play. Solomon had a decent return with 36 yards on four receptions. Wright, who caught a 95-yard touchdown in the opener but didn’t play against Wisconsin because of a hamstring injury, didn’t catch a pass. Neither did previous starting slot receiver Henry Bussey, who entered the game tied for the team lead with seven catches.
Chuck King: Loved the killer instinct FAU showed in all phases of the game. In recent years no FAU lead ever seemed safe. From the decision to try the onside kick, to the manner in which the offensive line manhandled the Wildcats, to the constant effort on defense, FAU made every effort to win this game. The Owls showed an attitude on Saturday. If that attitude and effort carries forward to next week against Buffalo, FAU could be 2-2 heading into Conference USA play – which could become quite entertaining.
Matt Wilson: The Owls got a well deserved win against FCS foe B-CU. This is a game they needed to win to get their season rolling. They have their next game against Buffalo, a team they struggled with in a 2014 loss at FAU. The Owls need to keep playing the way they did yesterday in order for them to look at bowl eligibility this season.