BOCA RATON – On a normal Sunday FAU coach Charlie Partridge shows his Owls about a dozen plays from the previous game before the players break down into their individual units.
Following the Shula Bowl loss, Partridge picked out 87 plays he wanted to show the team as a whole.
“I wanted both sides of the ball to see where it went right and where it went wrong so that they can be behind each other, which we are,” Partridge said.
Some were positive plays, but many demonstrated where one missed assignment, one missed block caused failure for the entire unit.
“We coached the entire team with that in mind – opportunities that we didn’t take advantage of,” Partridge said. “We need to, again, coach better, play better to take advantage of those opportunities. Make the catch. Make the block. Make the read. Get your eyes on the right place on the bubble and go, go to where you are supposed to on the blitz – and that’s on us as coaches to help them figure that out so that they can perform better in those moments.”
The season began with bowl expectations but the Owls have left themselves little margin for error for such a postseason run.
FAU fell to 1-4 with the loss to previously winless FIU on Saturday. For the second consecutive game the Owls held a fourth-quarter lead only to see their opponent rally.
“It’s painful to lose a close game,” Partridge said. “It’s painful for the coaches, the players, the fans, the supporters. It hurts because we put a lot into this and the players put a lot into this and the fans are invested emotionally and I hurt for them as well, but again you see things – that you’re happy to be in position at the end of the game – but we’re not happy because we’re here to win games and we need to find a way to perform better in all three phases throughout the course of the game.
“There’s a lot of points left on the board in terms of a run we can hit there, a block we can get there, a catch we don’t make. There’s a lot of opportunities missed. That’s the thing we’ve got to get figured out.”
While many of those points pertained to the offense, there may be even more work to be done on defense.
Allowing 39.0 points per game, FAU currently ranks No. 118 out of 128 FBS teams. Only 11 teams in the nation allow more than 490.4 yards the Owls surrender each game.
FIU entered Saturday’s Shula Bowl dead last in the nation in scoring but still hung 33 points on FAU while racking up 469 yards.
The Owls did force two turnovers, an interception off a defected pass by Jalen Young and another by Azeez Al-Shaair, who returned the pick for a touchdown. FAU, though, only sacked FIU quarterback Alex McGough once, compared to seven times last season, and there weren’t many other highlights.
“The defensive score by Azeez there to start off the second half, it was electric, it was exciting,” Partridge said. “I wish we had kept that momentum, obviously. Excited to see that happen. Excited to see the tip interception by Jalen there in the first half, so those are signs of good things but we have a lot that we need to get better at there on defense before we feel good about where we’re at on that side of the ball.”
Specifically, Partridge wants to see the Owls improve their execution of the scheme and their tackling when they face Charlotte (1-4) on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Howard Schnellenberger Field.
“At times we’re still not tackling at the clip that we want to, so there’s a couple things we need to get better at,” he said.