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CFN Take: FAU & Johnson Roll By FIU
2013 Florida Atlantic Owls ...
Head Coach: Carl Pelini
at Florida Atlantic 21, FIU 6
2013 Record: 6-6 |
8/31 at Miami L 34-6
9/7 at East Carolina L 31-13
9/14 at South Florida W 28-10
9/21 Middle Tenn L 42-35 OT
9/28 at Rice L 18-14
10/5 at UAB W 37-23
10/12 Marshall L 24-23
10/19 OPEN DATE
10/26 at Auburn L 45-10
11/2 Tulane W 34-17
11/9 OPEN DATE
11/16 at Southern Miss W 41-7
11/23 NMSU W 55-10
11/30 FIU W 21-6
Basically … FAU got three touchdown passes from Jaquez Johnson to three different receivers, hitting Nexon Dorvilus for an 11-yard touchdown in the first quarter and Alex Deleon for a 23-yard score in the third to put it away. William Dukes took a pass 59 yards for an Owl touchdown late in the first. FIU’s only points came on Austin Taylor field goals from 35 and 43 yards out.
- Florida Atlantic QB Jaquez Johnson completed 10-of-19 passes for 218 yards and three scores with a pick, and he ran 17 times for 64 yards
- FAU turned it over three times, FIU didn’t turn it over but converted just 1-of-13 third down chances.
- FIU QB Jake Medlock completed 7-of-21 passes for 56 yards before getting hurt. E.J. Hilliard stepped in to complete 4-of-6 passes for 33 yards.
- Florida Atlantic RB Damian Fortner ran 19 times for 100 yards
at Florida Atlantic 34, Tulane 17
Basically … D’Joun Smith picked off three passes and Jaquez Johnson scored from one-yard out in the first quarter and a 49-yarder in the fourth as the Owls overcame a weird week to get the win for interim head coach Pete Rekstis. FAU got down 17-7 in the first half but scored 27 unanswered points helped by a 30-yard touchdown catch from William Dukes and a 24-yard Damian Fortner dash. The Green Wave started out the scoring with a 69-yard interception return for a touchdown from Lorenzo Doss and got a four-yard Orleans Darkwa rushing score with a minute left in the first.
- FAU QB Jaquez Johnson completed just 10-of-21 passes for 107 yards and a pick, but he led the team with 20 carries for 114 yards and two scores.
- Tulane QB Nick Montana completed 7-of-22 passes for 71 yards and three scores.
- The Owls held on to the ball for 36:30 and had 19 first downs to Tulane’s nine.
- The Green Wave averaged just 2.2 yards per carry rushing 28 times for 62 yards.
at Auburn 45, Florida Atlantic 10
Basically … Auburn got up 38-0 in the first quarter touchdown runs from Tre Mason, Corey Grant and quarterback Nick Marshall, but Marshall left the game with a shoulder injury. Jeremy Johnson stepped in and kept the fun going with second quarter touchdown passes from 36 and 67 yards out to Sammie Coates. FAU scored ten straight points helped by a 29-yard Jaquez Johnson scoring run late in the first half, but the game was well in hand.
- Florida Atlantic was never in it. The defense that’s been so good at times wasn’t close to slowing down the Tiger offense, while there wasn’t anything offensively to give the D a break. Jaquez Johnson completed 9-of-20 passes, and he led the team with 58 rushing yards with none of the running backs bringing any help.
- It’s been a rough run with little consistency, but there’s a chance for an impressive finishing kick if the Owls can shock a suddenly-strong Tulane. Win that, and there’s a shot to actually become bowl eligible – as crazy as that sounds – with Southern Miss and New Mexico State to follow before closing out with FIU.
Marshall 24, at Florida Atlantic 23
Basically … Marshall’s Justin Haig kicked a 41-yard field goal as time ran out to survive a fight against FAU. The Herd started out the scoring with a 77-yard punt return for a score from Devon Smith in the second quarter, but FAU came back with short touchdown runs from Jonathan Wallace and Jaquez Johnson and a five-yard touchdown catch from Nexon Dorvilus for a 23-14 lead in the fourth. The Herd rallied ten unanswered points with Gator Hoskins scoring on a 41-yard pass with the extra point making it a two point game, but it looked bleak in the final moments. Marshall started its final drive on the nine-yard line, and Rakeem Cato led the way down to the FAU 24 for the game-winner.
- Rakeem Cato might have had a rough game, and he only finished hitting 18-of-34 passes for 216 yards with a score and a pick, but he was balling late. He scrambled for a key first down, and finished with 45 rushing yards with the ground game wasn’t providing much of anything. It was a much, much bigger fight than expected, but the Herd will survive and move on. The schedule isn’t bad, but the offense has to sharpen back up after stalling too much.
- FAU almost came up with the really big win needed to keep bowl hopes alive. At 3-4 with Southern Miss, New Mexico State and FIU still to play, a bowl would’ve been likely, but at 2-5, it’s going to take a few upsets. The defense continues to get the job done, and it limited the high-powered Herd until the late game-winning drive. There wasn’t enough pressure, but the run defense did a terrific job. Overall, though, the Owls are improving under Carl Pelini.
Florida Atlantic 37, at UAB 23
Basically … Jaquez Johnson ran for a score and threw two touchdown passes including a five-yarder to William Dukes in the final minutes to get FAU the road win. UAB kept pace with two Austin Brown touchdown passes and three Ty Long field goals, but the Owls scored 11 unanswered points in the second half starting with a three-yard Jay Warren scoring run.
- Jaquez Johnson continues to be a do-it-all star for FAU, proving he can carry the team by himself at times. He completed 23-of-36 passes for 299 yards and two scores, and he ran 19 times for 105 yards and a score. UAB couldn’t contain him.
- The chances were there for UAB to come up with some big plays late to take control of the game, and it couldn’t do it. The offense came out strong after halftime, but too many drives stalled while the UAB defense couldn’t stop Johnson – the D couldn’t get off the field.
at Rice 18, Florida Atlantic 14
Basically … Down 14-6 after Florida Atlantic came up with a 58-yard William Dukes touchdown run and a 15-yard Nexon Dorvilus scoring grab, Rice was helped by four takeaways scoring 12 unanswered points in the final 4:17 starting with a Cody Bauer seven-yard fumble return for a score. A Darik Dillard 20-yard scoring dash gave the Owls the lead for good, and the D held on in the final few minutes.
- It’s a process for Florida Atlantic. Under Carl Pelini, the offense is playing better and it’s finding a little bit of pop, but the four turnovers were a disaster. The defense shut down the Rice passing game cold, holding it to just 69 yards.
- Rice skated by, but the lack of a potent offense will be a bit problem over the next several weeks with four road games in the next five. There’s no passing game, but Taylor McHargue finished with a team-leading 71 yards. There’s no chance against Tulsa next week if the O can only produce two first half field goals again.
- Close soon won’t count for much at FAU. The team is playing far better than in past years, but beating UAB on the road is a must with Marshall and Auburn to follow.
- The Owl defense made up for a few errors with big plays in the second half. It took too long to pull the game out, needing the shine in the final few minutes, but the D kept it close so the O could pull it out.
Middle Tennessee 42, at Florida Atlantic 35 OT
Basically … Middle Tennessee came up with a 19-yard Kyle Griswould touchdown catch in overtime, and the defense held with an interception on fourth down to end the Florida Atlantic rally. The Owls sent the game into OT with a Lucky Whitehead touchdown catch with three seconds to play just a 1:29 after the Blue Raiders pulled ahead with a dramatic 64-yard touchdown run from Reggie Whatley. In a back-and-forth battle, neither team got ahead by more than seven with each team trading scores. Whatley finished with three touchdowns, while FAU kept pace with two touchdown runs and two scoring passes from QB Jacquez Johnson.
- The Blue Raiders got the ground game working with a tremendous game from the offensive line. Reggie Whatley ran ten times for 154 yards and three scores, and Jordan Parker added 28 carries for 115 yards and a score with a more workmanlike effort.
- FAU has its playmaker in quarterback Jacquez Johnson. The 6-1, 225-pound sophomore might not have gotten the win, but he brought the team back in the clutch. The two interceptions were a problem, but he threw for 321 yards and three scores and ran 15 times for 34 yards and two scores.
- Middle Tennessee’s defense might have been gashed, but it made up for several problems with lots and lots of big plays forcing five turnovers including the game-sealer in overtime. While Logan Kilgore threw two picks, the team only committed one penalty.
- It was a loss, but FAU showed that it can play. Carl Pelini is turning the program around, and now it’s more than just competitive.
Florida Atlantic 28, at USF 10, Sept. 14
Basically … Florida Atlantic started out the scoring with a ten-yard fumble return for a touchdown from Cory Henry, and ended it with a 65-yard interception return for a score from D’Joun Smith. South Florida took a 10-7 lead in the first quarter on a 25-yard Ryan Eppes touchdown catch, but FAU scored 21 unanswered points helped by short touchdown runs from Jaquez Johnson and Jonathan Wallace before Smith’s big play late.
- The South Florida offense got a huge day out of running back Michael Shaw – 22 carries for 159 yards – but the passing game continues to be non-existent. Steven Bench completed 8-of-23 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown with a pick six. He’s not getting any help from his receivers.
- FAU might not have found much on offense, but it didn’t have to. The defense came up with three takeaways and two scores, and it managed to come up with stop after stop. It wasn’t pretty, but the Owls will take it.
- Owl linebacker Randell Johnson was everywhere, making eight tackles with three tackles for loss. Aldarius Glanton was a force with ten tackles, but it was Johnson who was the disruptive force. D’Joun Smith wasn’t bad, either with a key forced fumble and his big interception.
- When is Aaron Lynch going to explode? The Notre Dame transfer only came up with a tackle with a half a tackle for loss. The USF defense came up with a good game, but the pass rush wasn’t there.
at East Carolina 31, Florida Atlantic 13, Sept. 5
Basically … East Carolina took advantage of three turnovers and two touchdown passes from Shane Carden to jump out to a 31-6 lead after three quarters. Florida Atlantic managed two come up with two Mitch Anderson field goals early, but was held to a two-yard William Dukes touchdown catch in the final minute. Justin Hardy and Chris Hairston each ran for short scores for the Pirates.
- It wasn’t exactly the smoothest day from East Carolina. There were too many mistakes with seven penalties and two turnovers, but Shane Carden was effective through the air, even if the passing game wasn’t explosive. It was a good midrange attack, but it wasn’t dominant.
- Florida Atlantic had a nightmare of a time in pass protection. Greg Henderson and Jaquez Johnson didn’t have any room or time to operate as ECU was camped out in the backfield all game long.
- ECU’s Lee Pegues came up with a whale of a performance. The senior end made three sacks and was the leader of a good day from the defensive front.
- Neither team ran the ball all that well. FAU was able to keep the ECU ground attack in check, but the offense wasn’t able to take advantage of opportunities. Mitch Anderson missed field goals from 37 and 40 yards out.
at Miami 34, Florida Atlantic 6, Aug. 30
Basically … It was the Duke Johnson show as the Miami star tore off 186 yards and a score on 19 carries, highlighted by a 53-yard scoring dash, but he wasn’t alone. Stephen Morris threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Clive Walford late in the second and Herb Waters ran for a 63-yard score in the third. FAU only managed two Mitch Anderson field goals.
- The Miami defense still might be the big question mark going into the season, but it came up big in the opener with five sacks and allowing just 250 yards of total offense.
- Stephen Morris and the Miami offense didn’t exactly take many chances; they didn’t have to. They ran the ball and let the defense do the work.
- Pass protection was FAU’s problem, but Jaquez Johnson hung in there completing 11-of-20 passes for 83 yards. Greg Hankerson didn’t fare much better, but he got loose a little bit when he took off.
- Miami averaged eight yards per carry, FAU averaged 3.1.
Why To Get Excited … of the nine players to catch at least 10 passes last year, just one was a senior. The Owls are loaded with good hands and fleet feet, led by Second Team All-Sun Belt pick William Dukes, who caught 63 balls for 979 yards and four touchdowns as a budding sophomore.
Why To Be Grouchy … who’ll get the ball to all of those experienced wideouts? With the graduation of underrated QB Graham Wilbert, second-year head coach Carl Pelini is staring at a five-man battle to become the new starter. None of those contenders has ever thrown a touchdown pass at this level.
The Number One Thing To Work On Is … improving the efficiency of the running game. Pelini wants the identity of his offense to hinge on a power running game that can control the clock and the tempo of the game. However, a year ago, Florida Atlantic ranked 107th nationally on the ground, while averaging only 3.3 yards per carry.
Non-Conference Games: at Miami, at USF, at Auburn, New Mexico State
Games Against the West: at Rice, Tulane
Realistic Best Case Record: 5-7
Worst Case Record: 1-11
Likely Finish: 2-10
Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: New Mexico State, FIU
Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at Miami, at East Carolina, at USF, Middle Tennessee, at Rice, at UAB, Marshall, at Auburn, Tulane, at Southern Miss
Schedule Analysis: Get used to life on the road – again. The Owls are used to being everyone’s guests, and this season isn’t any different starting out with five road games in the first six with only a home game against Middle Tennessee to break up the run. If that wasn’t bad enough, going to Auburn and Southern Miss means seven of the first ten games are on the road, but there’s a break in the end staying home to face New Mexico State before closing out with rival, FIU. From the West, having to face Rice on the road isn’t going to be a plus this season, while the Tulane game will be a must win to have any hope of coming up with a strong finishing kick.
Team Concerns For 2013: The Owls have to find ways to score against the stronger defenses. The pass rush was miserable with a mere 12 sacks on the season, and the special teams were abysmal, but the defense will come around under Carl Pelini. FAU has to start putting points on the board and it has to start with a better ground game. The O started to work over the second half of the season, but it needs to keep the chains moving.
The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Players from outside of Florida. Carl Pelini is starting to settle in a bit, but he's not exactly putting a fence around the State of Miami. JUCO transfer Jacquez Johnson is a smallish quarterback from Mississippi who'll try to get the woeful offense going, while guard Austin Bland and JUCO transfer Braden Lyons will get a long look for the O line. Defensive tackles Lance Burlingame from Massachusetts and Derek Butcher from North Dakota are JUCO transfers brought in to fight for time in the interior. The best players in the class, though, are at linebacker with Robert Relf and Andrew Curtis both coming in from Brophy College Prep in
2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking:
111. That Class Was Heavy On ... It’s Carl Pelini taking over the head coaching job, so the defense is going to be a primary focus with the secondary a major need and outside linebacker needing to be addressed. However, the offense was miserable last year and needs an upgrade in talent level. The quarterbacks came in a few years ago, with Stephan Curtis soon to be a factor, but playmakers across the offensive board will be used.
2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 120. That Class Was
Heavy On ... Outside linebacker. This is yet another soft recruiting class as Howard Schnellenberger didn’t load up on too many strong prospects from around the area. As always, everyone is local, but the only player of note is undersized linebacker Damian Parms, who isn’t big, but can stick. The receiving corps gets a little help with William Dukes and Hakeem Ishmar two big, promising targets.
2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 119. That Class Was
Heavy On ... Quarterbacks. It
wasn't exactly the old Howard Schnellenberger wall
around Miami to get the top talent from the area. A
class that lacked star power also lacked any one
area of beefing up, but there were two decent
quarterback prospects to build on for the next few
years with 6-3, 210-pound Nick Bracewell and
strong-armed Stephen Curtis to battle it out to be
the future of the program. Bracewell is the better
of the two.
2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 101. That Class Was
Heavy On ... Cornerback. By far the best prospects of this year’s class are in the secondary where De’Andre Richardson and Keith Reaser are two really fast, really good corners who should be fixtures in the FAU defensive backfield for years. Winfred Strickland and Treon Howard aren’t as fast or as good, but they should provide decent depth down the road.