Part of the success has been the improvement of tackling. The Owls struggled early in the year allowing yards after contact.
“We have stressed tackling,” defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said.
In opening the season against UCF and Ohio State, both nationally ranked, FAU gave up 549 rushing yards, 312 of them to the Knights in Week 2. After the UCF loss, Spencer prioritized tackling drills in practice.
In the three games that followed, all wins, FAU has only allowed 213 yards rushing combined.
“I believe everyone is getting a lot more confident in their play and we can play the scheme of the defense, or just make plays now.” redshirt senior defensive tackle Ray Ellis said.
Against Charlotte in FAU’s most recent outing, thee Owls held 49ers running back Benny LeMay 46 yards. Prior to the game, LeMay ranked 10th in the country in rushing yards.
Along with tackling better, the Owls are becoming more adept at running Spencer’s scheme, which can feature three or four man fronts.
“It’s a fun defense,” Ellis said. “You get to learn. It’s kind of cool to switch positions and learn new techniques. I enjoy playing both.”
One of the benefits of Spencer’s multiple fronts is that opposing offenses never know which scheme the Owls will employ predominately.
“Offenses have to prepare for two different defenses,” Spencer said.
The multiple formations helped the FAU’s front seven generate pressure on the offense. Through five games FAU has 37 tackles for a loss, tied for 26th nationally and third in Conference USA behind UAB and Western Kentucky.
“I have seen improvement,” Spencer said. “It’s week to week, different match-ups and issues every week. Sometimes we have responded well.”
FAU will face only one more opponent who currently ranks among the nation’s Top 50 in rushing. Marshall ranks 36th in the nation with 206 yards a game.