“The speed of their receivers, we probably can’t duplicate that in practice and it showed up early,” Kiffin said immediately after the loss.
Upon further review, however, a deficiency of speed isn’t what killed FAU.
Broken assignments did that.
“I don’t really think that they were that much faster than us.” cornerback Chris Tooley said. “The plays that we did give them, it was mental error plays. It was plays we left wide open. They didn’t really have any plays where they blew the top off us.”
FAU allowed touchdown passes of 25, 32 and 29 yards within the first 10 minutes of kickoff. On all three scores, there wasn’t an FAU defender within the cone of probability.
“Those busts weren’t scheme-wise,” safety Da’Von Brown said. “We did that as players. We’re going to own up to that. It was nothing our coaches did. It was players. So we got together and we told each other that we made those mistakes and now let’s bounce back and move on.”
FAU’s secondary played much better in the final three quarters against the Buckeyes, allowing only one more passing touchdown – a three-yarder to Jeremy Ruckert.
“He didn’t make any adjustments. We were fine with what we were calling,” Kiffin said, referring to defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer. “It was the players calming down and not making mistakes, mental mistakes, which led to big plays.”
Like Ohio St., Saturday’s opponent, No. 18 UCF, also boasts speed on the outside.
But the Owls aren’t worried about individual speed as much as they are the collective rapidity with which UCF fires its plays.
Similar to FAU, UCF runs a version of the Baylor offense, originally brought to Boca Raton in 2017 by then-offensive coordinator Kendall Briles. The Knights averaged 43.2 points per game last season and opened this season by scoring 62 on Florida A&M.
“They’ve got a great system and when you combined it with great players you get a Top 5 offense every year,” Kiffin said.