MIAMI GARDENS – For the second consecutive season FAU played Miami close – for a half.
A week after averaging 7.7 yards per carry, Miami sophomore Mark Walton rushed for four touchdowns in to help Miami pull away and hand Florida Atlantic a sobering 38-10 loss.
“All the credit in the world to Miami for what they did tonight to win the game,” Owls coach Charlie Partridge said after his fourth consecutive loss to a nationally-ranked team. “There’s things that we did at times that made us look like a program that’s continuing to in the direction we want to go in but we’re not there yet.”
FAU (1-1) allowed at least 30 points for the second straight week. After making it clear all throughout fall camp that the defense was focused on the avoidance of big plays, the first two games of the season have seen both Southern Illinois and No. 25 Miami (2-0) capitalize on a mix of bad tackling and poor defense.
Frequent and untimely penalties prevented the Owls from building any serious offense consistency – the second consecutive week the Owls failed to move the ball.
“There were a couple of simple opportunities to catch the ball and move the chains,” Partridge said. “When you’re moving the chains, you match the tempo of the offense. There were a couple penalties, pre-snap penalties, where a 15, 20-yard gain comes back and there were two times we didn’t line up in the right formation. It’s the mistakes of youth. If we continue to get those things cleaned up, we’re going to be a powerful football team as we continue to grow.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Miami took a 7-0 lead on Walton’s first score of the afternoon -a seven yard run. Walton later added a second touchdown with 1:37 left in the second quarter, combining for nearly 100 yards on the ground (54 coming from him) with junior Joe Yearby (44) in the first half alone.
Trey Hendrickson, who recorded a blocked kick for the second straight week, saw his struggles against a Miami offensive line that wouldn’t give. Hendrickson was held without a sack for the first time since November 14, a 24-17 loss to Middle Tennessee.
“It’s a lack of discipline and a lack of execution,” defensive end Trey Hendrickson said after the loss. “We have another week of practice where we can clean those up for next week.”
After a fantastic week one outing in which he scored twice and had over 100 yards by the end of the first half, junior running back Buddy Howell was limited to just 16 yards after the first 30 minutes on Saturday night. Howell would make his presence known in the third quarter, however, rushing for a 38 yard score, trimming Miami’s lead to 24-10. Howell finished with 75 yards on the ground, more than half of those coming on his score.
Quarterback Jason Driskel, like Howell, failed to match his statistics from the week prior. Throwing for 287 passing yards and completing 74.2 percent of his passes against Southern Illinois, Driskel finished with just half of his passes completed and even committed the Owls’ first turnover of the year with a poorly-thrown interception in Saturday’s loss.
“You can’t make excuses: it was a lack of execution,” Driskel said. “It starts with me. You can’t do a lot if the quarterback doesn’t play well. I didn’t play well enough today to win.”
Driskel did find a comfortable target in Kalib Woods, who finished with nine catches for 121 yards – making him one of the few bright spots on a night where the offense totaled only 214 yards.
Woods, though, was unable to make the key catch on fourth down early in the fourth quarter, – the junior’s drop gave Miami the ball back at the FAU 31. Three plays later Walton’s fourth TD run put the game out of reach.
Woods said after the game that the drop was not to be blamed on the rain that began during the final plays of the third quarter, but instead on his lack of concentration.
Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya only completed 45 percent of his passes in the first half and threw two interceptions – one to linebacker Nate Ozdemir, the other to safety Andrew Soroh.
Partridge made clear after the clock hit zero, those types of small positives — hanging in against Miami for two quarters, keeping Kaaya to a small game — don’t mean much at this point in the program’s development.
“Nobody last year in Gainesville or when the Canes came up to Boca was happy with being close for two and a half quarters; we were very disappointed,” Partridge said. “We came here to win and everything about us and our mindset coming into this stadium was to fight and win a game. We didn’t do that and we’re disappointed in that.”
GAME BROWSER: No. 25 Miami 38, FAU 10
Late in the second quarter as the Canes drove for another touchdown, Jalen Young knocked forced a Mark Walton fumble and Andrew Soroh recovered it. The referees, instead of ruled that Soroh was out of bounds when he recovered it, keeping the ball in Miami’s possession. On the next play, Walton ran for a three-yard score that gave the Canes a 14-3 lead going into halftime.
-28 – Combined yards rushing by FAU players not named Buddy Howell.
1 – Total rushing yards by the FAU Owls in the first half, a week after Buddy Howell nearly piled up 100 in the first quarter alone.
2 – Blocked kicks on the year for Trey Hendrickson, who recorded one for the second straight week.
4 – Games against nationally-ranked opponents that the Owls have faced in Charlie Partridge’s tenure. The Owls have lost them all and have never beaten a ranked opponent in program history.
6 – Sacks of FAU QB Jason Driskel. Daniel Parr was also sacked once.
;75 – Yards rushing by Buddy Howell, who scored the Owls’ lone TD.
121 – Total recieving yards from Kalib Woods, a career-high for the junior.
57,123 – Announced attendance at Hard Rock Stadium.
- It may not have contributed much to the final score, but it was great to see injured Owls starting tackle Reggie Bain join his teammates on the sideline. Three weeks after being involved in an off-campus motor scooter accident, Bain was in a wheelchair next to the Owls’ bench.
- Kerrith Whyte struggled for the second consecutive week. Without a running game and without a back that can be the 1B to Buddy Howell’s 1A, it’s going to be hard for the Owls to stay in the upcoming games and be competitive after the second half. For as good a running back as Buddy Howell is, especially when he finds a hole, he can’t carry this team on his own.
- FAU’s offensive line was absolutely manhandled on Saturday. The Owls allowed seven sacks and rushed for only 47 yards. Making matters worse, right tackle Kelly Parfitt suffered a knee injury in the first quarter and left the stadium on crutches. This unit figured to be a strength for FAU.
- While Jason Driskel didn’t have the best game, keep in mind that not only was he facing a nationally-ranked team on the road, but this is just his second game in Trickett’s offense. There’s no reason for fans to grab their pitchforks and start yelling for Daniel Parr to start because, for as bad as Driskel may have played, he was helping to keep the Owls in the game when the running game couldn’t get much done. This is still a learning experience for these players and Driskel, even if he struggled after a 6-9 first quarter. He has played fairly well to start the year.
- Two games into the season, Travis Trickett’s offense hasn’t been that much of an improvement over Brian Wright’s.
For the first time this season, the Owls leave the Sunshine State and will take a journey to the “Little Apple’ for a showdown in Manhattan with Kansas State. Kickoff is slated for 2:30 p.m.