Kiffin doesn’t need a high-flying aerial attack to validate his coaching ability.
“I want to do the best thing to win games,” Kiffin said. “I don’t look at it like that at all. You throw for a bunch of yards, it doesn’t mean that you’re a better coach than running for a bunch of yards. You’ve still got to design the plays and the runs. It’s not like you just hand the ball off and the guys just run to daylight. You’ve got to scheme things up, find ways, just like (against Old Dominion), to take advantage of what they do, by how they play defensive ends, how they fit plays, all those things.”
FAU rushed for 453 yards in Saturday’s 58-30 victory over ODU. The Owls average 258.7 yards per game on the ground, which ranks No. 15 nationally.
“To me, a lot of times actually the run game takes more coaching than the passing game because so much stuff’s involved, where sometimes in the passing game you can just throw the ball out there and you don’t have to block people because you are throwing quick and the receiver makes a play – makes the guys miss. When you run the ball you’ve go to get everybody on the right page.”
Devin Singletary rushed for 194 yards and two touchdowns against ODU, but quarterback Jason Driskel benefited the most from FAU’s run scheme on Saturday, rushing for 92 yards a program-record tying four touchdowns.
Dating back to youth football, Driskel doesn’t recall a similar performance.
“It’s like one of the weirdest days I’ve ever had,” Driskel said. “We won, obviously. We scored a lot of points. All good things. I found the end zone a bunch of times – that’s good. Obviously, passing game is the thing that needs to improve and playing quarterback, that takes precedence.”
Following that performance FAU nominated Driskel for Conference USA Player of the Week honors, but conference media members decided Southern Miss running back Ito Smith’s 178-yard, one touchdown performance was the better game.
Kiffin didn’t think Driskel deserved the award.
“I don’t think he played well enough to be the conference player of the week and I think he’d tell you the same thing,” Kiffin said. “He played great in one part of the game the run game – and didn’t play great in the other part. I’m sure he’d tell you the same thing.”
Had the choice been completely his, Kiffin wouldn’t have nominated Driskel for the award in the first place. When approached for his input by an FAU staffer, Kiffin said he suggested a creative nominee.
“I said the offensive line,” Kiffin said. “They wouldn’t let me do that, so then I said, OK, make it the center and then we’ll just say around here it was everybody, but obviously I guess we didn’t win.”
The lack of C-USA recognition didn’t seem to bother Driskel much.
“I don’t know how that works – who votes,” he said. “I have no idea how that works. I didn’t have any thoughts on it.”
After watching Daniel Parr start the Owls’ first three games at quarterback, Driskel started the past three and continued to work with the first team on Wednesday.
FAU won two of Driskel’s starts, but the Owls combined to throw for less than 450 yards in those games combined.
Despite winning consecutive games, Kiffin continues to voice his displeasure with the passing game.
FAU wide receivers continue to drop balls. Miscommunication still exists between Driskel and receivers. And earlier this week Kiffin noted some pass blocking issues against Old Dominion.
But many observers point to Driskel’s ineffectiveness behind center as the reason the Owls’ passing game continues to struggle.
“First of all, I don’t really know what people say,” Driskel said. “I don’t care to be honest. I care what coach Kiffin and (offensive coordinator Kendal) Briles have to say on Mondays when we come in and watch film. I care what my teammates have to say and what they think about me.”