“I think we’re getting there, I don’t think it’s quite there yet,” Weis said on Wednesday during a rare session with the media. “As you guys all know, our identity wants to be to run the football. Obviously we haven’t done that totally to our standard at this point in time but we’re working to get there.”
Several factors contributed to FAU’s slow ground start, which at 129.4-yards per game ranks No. 97 nationally.
FAU’s offensive line struggled to open holes. Injuries depleted the running back unit. And the Owls did open the season against two Top 25 teams.
But Weis and the Owls don’t believe the Owls’ running game is struggling as much as the statistics indicate.
The frequent sacks of quarterback Chris Robison, particularly during the first two losses, subtract from the Owls’ rushing total. And plays like screen passes and jet sweeps count as passing plays despite being, in effect, long handoffs.
“For the most part those we count in the run game stuff,” Weis said. “Thankfully, it counts for passing yards for Chris’s statistics.”
To Weis, run-pass option plays are also a derivative of the running game, even if the gains are made through the air.
“Your RPO game is really an attachment to your run because if people put seven guys in the box and we throw a slant behind it, we’re taking advantage of them having an extra guy in the box,” Weis said. “That’s still a part of the run game. We called a run. Just because we thew the ball doesn’t mean it was a called pass.”
In Saturday’s victory over Charlotte FAU enjoyed its best rushing game of the season, with running backs alone totaling 159 yards. Twice over the past three games FAU running backs tallied more than 30 receiving yards.
Add a near-lateral that covered 30 yards to Malcolm Davidson’s rushing total against Charlotte and he would have eclipsed the 100 yard mark on the afternoon.
“I think we maybe have done a little bit better job of helping our guys out and putting them in better places to succeed,” Weis said.
FAU entered this week’s bye riding a three-game winning streak thanks in part two three stellar games from Robison, who threw for more than 300 yards each time, tossing 11 touchdowns against only one interception.
“The development of Chris has obviously shown that we can be very explosive in the passing game as well,” Weis said. “I think as we continue progressing in the passing game, get our run game along, I think we’ll find exactly who we want to be. We’re on our way right now.”