BOCA RATON – In the most telling sign yet of how far FAU’s offense progressed over three months, coach Lane Kiffin told his Owls on Monday that he wasn’t particularly pleased with their effort against FIU despite scoring 52 points in Saturday’s Shula Bowl blowout.
“I don’t think we played very hard on offense, which is shocking to me in that type of game – the magnitude of that game,” Kiffin said. “We had a lot of points, a lot of yards. I thought we played really hard on defense. I don’t know why that is.”
FAU rolled to 572 total yards in the 52-24 victory that sealed the Owls’ berth in the Conference USA championship game, which the Owls will host on Dec. 2.
Florida Atlantic scored on its first possession and led 14-0 before FIU rallied, cutting the lead to 14-10.
A Jason Driskel-to-D’Anfernee McGriff touchdown pass in the closing seconds of the second quarter gave the Owls some breathing room at the half and FAU pulled away in the final 30 minutes.
Still, Kiffin compared FAU’s effort to what he would expect to see on the practice field against the scout team.
“It was like a service team mentality, like, Hey we’ve got them blocked,” Kiffin said. “Well why aren’t we keeping our hands inside and slamming them to the ground? Why aren’t we finishing them? We’re just blocking them, and not finishing.”
FAU ranks eighth nationally in scoring, averaging 39.4 points per game this season. In Conference USA play that average jumps to 42.5 points.
That’s up from 26.4 points per game last season.
Still, Kiffin didn’t like what he saw from the offense on Saturday.
“I think (FIU) got tired on defense,” Kiffin said. “And so there was a lot of kind of standing up both ways. That’s not how we expect to play. I told them it looked like what you do against the service team. When you’re going against your own team, you try hard but you don’t really have a different finishing killer instinct. We didn’t have that. Luckily we’ve got really good players. They made guys miss or they just outran guys.”
FAU concludes its regular season on Saturday at Charlotte (1-10, 1-6 C-USA). The Owls enter the game riding a seven-game winning streak, the start of which coincided with the start of conference play.
“We want to be undefeated in the conference,” Kiffin said.