BOCA RATON – Florida Atlantic rebounded from its disappointing loss to Marshall a little more than a week ago to play its most complete game of the season in a 41-3 dismantling of Old Dominion on Saturday.
The Owls took a 24-3 lead into halftime and never looked back on the way to their fifth win of the season, matching their total for all of last year.
Each week we look back at the previous day’s FAU football game, analyzing the good, bad and curious from the contest.
FAU’s victory over ODU featured plenty of good.
Four Down Territory: FAU 41, ODU 3
Chuck King: Deangelo Antoine. The transfer from USF led FAU with nine catches, and his lone run of the afternoon resulted in a 48-yard touchdown on a reverse. Quarterback Nick Tronti also deserves some recognition here. With starter Chris Robison injured, Tronti played the entire second half, completing seven of 10 pass attempts, with one going for a touchdown.
Matt Wilson: Harrison Bryant. For the first time this season Bryant found the end zone. Bryant’s14-yard TD made the score 21-3 in the second quarter. In addition to the touchdown, Bryant also recorde eight catches for a team-high 92 yards. Bryant continued to show he is a reliable target for quarterback Robison.
King: FAU’s defensive line came alive on Saturday. Defensive linemen accounted for four of the Owls’ six sacks. Old Dominion running backs had no room to run, with the Monarchs managing only 70 yards on the ground. And the Owls did that with three defensive linemen, Ray Ellis, William Davis and Damian Horton all missing plays because of injuries.
Wilson: The Owls offensive line flipped their play from last week against Marshall to the ODU game. FAU’s offensive line allowed seven sacks against the Thundering Herd. Against ODU, FAU only allowed a lone sack. The line helped the offense to 430 yards, including 159 yards on the ground. The Owls offensive line looked more like they did against MTSU when FAU rushed for 203 yards.
King: Lane Kiffin hasn’t called as many trick plays this year as in the past, and maybe now we know why. Leading 14-0, Kiffin called for a flea-flicker that resulted in an interception when Robison forced the ball into tight coverage. ODU converted the turnover into its lone points of the game, momentarily stealing momentum from the Owls.
Wilson: Going for it on 4th down with a 24-3 lead in the middle of the third quarter was an odd call by the Owls. The Owls, who were at the ODU 28, called a quarterback sneak with Nick Tronti. FAU should have let Vladi Rivas get some practice kicking instead of going for it. The Owls have struggled with the kicking game as Rivas is only 1-2 from 40 yards or more. FAU’s defense bailed out the offense because if ODU comes down and scores a touchdown after change of possession, the game becomes a 24-10 game and the narrative switches.
King: It will be interesting to see how costly this victory will be be for the Owls. The manner in which Kiffin discussed Robison’s injury – saying that the medical staff wouldn’t allow the QB back in the game – would seem to indicate that Robison might have entered the Owls concussion protocol. FAU also lost starting running back Malcolm Davidson in the first half to an injury that could be more severe than initially thought. With a crucial game for the Owls’ C-USA title hopes looming next week at Western Kentucky, the Owls need all the firepower they can get.
Wilson: After losing last week to Marshall, the Owls looked like their conference title hopes may be gone. With the 38 point win, FAU is now 3-1 in conference play with four games remaining. The Owls have a long way to go in order to clinch a C-USA East title. Marshall continues to control its own destiny for the division title. FAU will need Marshall to lose in order for FAU to have a chance at the division. FAU will have to finish the season undefeated though as they will take on a tough WKU team next week and a pass crazy Southern Miss offense to end the year. FAU needs to take this win and use the momentum to have a chance at the C-USA East division.