CFN Take: FAU Falls To Middle Tennessee
2014 Florida Atlantic Owls ...
Head Coach: Charlie Partridge
Nov. 22 at Middle Tennessee 35, Florida Atlantic 34
2014 Schedule |
Aug. 30 at Nebraska L 55-7
Sep. 6 at Alabama L 41-0
Sep. 13 Tulsa W 50-21
Sep. 20 at Wyoming L 20-19
Sep. 27 UTSA W 41-37
Oct. 2 at FIU L 38-10
Oct. 11 OPEN DATE
Oct. 18 WKU W 45-38
Oct. 25 at Marshall L 35-16
Nov. 1 UAB L 31-28
Nov. 8 at North Texas L 31-10
Nov. 15 OPEN DATE
Nov. 22 at Middle Tenn
Nov. 29 Old Dominion
And You Care Because … Marcus Henry caught a 12-yard touchdown pass on fourth and goal with 19 seconds to play to tie it, and Cody Clark’s extra point gave Middle Tennessee the lead for good after rallying back from down 13 in the third. Florida Atlantic started out the scoring on a Lucky Whitehead 80-yard touchdown run on the first play of the game, and got two Jaquez Johnson touchdown passes in the second half and a one-yard scoring run in the second quarter, but Reggie Whatley brought the Blue Raiders back on a 75-yard touchdown run in the third and a nine-yard dash late in the fourth. The Middle Tennessee struggled all game long to come up with a key stop until it absolutely had to in the final few minutes.
What Else? Total yards: Florida Atlantic 540 – Middle Tennessee 470
- Middle Tennessee RB Reggie Whatley ran 19 times for 190 yards and three scores
- Florida Atlantic QB Jaquez Johnson completed 21-of-33 passes for 304 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions, and ran 11 times for 53 yards and a score
- Middle Tennessee QB Austin Grammer completed 20-of-27 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns with a pick ,and ran ten times for 47 yards
Game Rating: B+
Nov. 8 at North Texas 31, Florida Atlantic 10
And You Care Because … Antoinne Jimmerson ran for a 41-yard touchdown and Andrew McNulty threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Smith and ran for a four-yard score on the way to a 21-3 North Texas lead. FAU’s offense struggled and sputtered all game long outside of a third quarter drive finishing with a 34-yard Alex Deleon touchdown catch. UNT scored ten unanswered points in the fourth to put it away.
What Else? Total yards: North Texas 342 – Florida Atlantic 197
- North Texas RB Antoinne Jimmerson ran 17 times for 111 yards and a score
- FAU QB Jaquez Johnson completed 14-of-25 passes for 99 yards and a score with a pick
- North Texas QB Andrew McNulty completed 12-of-16 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown with an interception, and ran four times for 14 yards and a score
Game Rating: C-
Nov. 1 UAB 31, at Florida Atlantic 28
And You Care Because … Ty Long hit a 24-yard field goal with two seconds to play to break the 28-28 tie and give UAB the win. The Blazers appeared to have things in hand with a 28-7 lead in the fourth quarter, helped by two Jordan Howard touchdown runs and a 78-yard Jamarcus Nelson scoring grab. But FAU roared back in the fourth with 21 straight points on three long drives. Jaquez Johnson threw two touchdown passes and Tony Moore ran for a five-yard score, but UAB had the ball with just over four minutes left, and made the most of it going 64 yards in 12 plays leading the Long’s game-winner.
What Else? Penalties: UAB 11 for 90 yards – FAU 3 for 30 yards
- UAB RB Jordan Howard ran 35 times for 167 yards and two scores
- FAU WR Lucky Whitehead caught eight passes for 83 yards and two scores
- UAB WR Jamarcus Nelson caught six passes for 125 yards and a touchdown
Game Rating: A-
Oct. 25 at Marshall 35, Florida Atlantic 16
And You Care Because … Marshall struggled early, down 13-7 late in the first half as FAU got two Greg Joseph field goals and a 16-yard Alex Deleon touchdown catch to balance out a 56-yard Devon Johnson run. Johnson was at it again for the Herd, taking off for a 16-yard touchdown, but FAU had the lead going into the locker room on a 24-yard Joseph field goal. It was all Marshall in the second half scoring 21 unanswered points on a 21-yard Tommy Shuler touchdown catch and two more Johnson scoring runs from 66 and seven yards out.
What Else? Marshall RB Devon Johnson ran 24 times for 272 yards and four touchdowns
- Florida Atlantic WR Lucky Whitehead caught 11 passes for 102 yards
- Marshall QB Rakeem Cato completed 13-of-24 passes for 218 yards and a touchdowns
- Florida Atlantic QB Jaquez Johnson completed 19-of-37 passes for 179 yards and a score, and ran 16 times for 61 yards
Game Rating: C
Oct. 18 at Florida Atlantic 45, WKU 38
And You Care Because … FAU roared back in the fourth quarter with 17 unanswered points on a Greg Joseph field goal and a four-yard Greg Howell run to tie it, and less than a minute later, after a WKU three-and-out, Jaquez Johnson found Lucky Whitehead for a 61-yard touchdown to take the lead for good. The FAU recovered a fumble on WKU’s final shot, and the comeback was complete. WKU was rolling early, with Brandon Doughty throwing three touchdown passes and Leon Allen running for two scores, but FAU stayed alive with two Johnson touchdown passes – including a 20-yarder to Whitehead – and a one-yard run before the wild fourth quarter rally.
What Else? Total yards: Florida Atlantic 619 – WKU 402
- FAU QB Jaquez Johnson completed 23-of-34 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns, and ran 17 times for 95 yards and two scores
- FAU WR Lucky Whitehead caught eight passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns
- WKU QB Brandon Doughty completed 28-of-44 passes for 335 yards and three touchdowns with an interception
Game Rating: A-
Oct. 2 at FIU 38, Florida Atlantic 10
And You Care Because … FIU took advantage of four FAU turnovers including a game-turning fumble return for a score, and came up with 28 unanswered points in the second half on the way to the Shula Bowl win. Anthon Samuel ran for scores from one and nine yards out for the Golden Panthers, but FAU had a chance to tie it up at 17 late in the third quarter, but fumbled on the goal line, Richard Leonard, who also had an interception in the end zone, scooped it up, weaved his way for a 100-yard touchdown that turned the tide of the game. FAU only got into the end zone once on a 31-yard Jay Warren score.
What Else? Total yards: FAU 383 – FIU 345
- Florida Atlantic QB Jaquez Johnson completed 19-of-42 passes for 225 yards and a pick, and ran ten times for a team-leading 64 yards
- FIU QB Alex McGough completed 18-of-29 passes for 160 yards and ran seven times for 28 yards and a touchdown
- Turnovers: FAU 4 – FIU 1
Game Rating: C-
Sept. 27 at Florida Atlantic 41, UTSA 37
And You Care Because … Down ten with five minutes to play, Florida Atlantic rallied with a 75-yard drive culminating in a 21-yard Lucky Whitehead touchdown catch, and after getting the ball back, went 93 yards in nine plays with a 15-yard Nate Terry scoring grab with 20 seconds to play for the win. UTSA couldn’t put the game away, settling for two Sean Ianno field goals in the fourth quarter. FAU got back in the game in the second quarter on a Cre’von LeBlanc pick six, and took the lead with a 24-yard Jaquez Johnson touchdown dash with 22 seconds to play in the first half, but UTSA had all the momentum with a 53-yard Kenny Harrison touchdown catch with four seconds to play in the first half and the second of two Tucker Carter touchdown runs in the third. But that was it – the Roadrunners couldn’t get back into the end zone.
What Else? FAU QB Jaquez Johnson completed 24-of-34 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns, and ran 15 times for 37 yards and a score
- UTSA QB Tucker Carter completed 20-of-39 passes for 272 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions, and ran seven times for 12 yards and two touchdowns
- The two teams combined to convert 18-of—32 third down chances.
- UTSA RB David Glasco II ran 18 times for 85 yards and a score
Game Rating: A-
Sept. 20 at Wyoming 20, Florida Atlantic 19
And You Care Because … Florida Atlantic was up two and could’ve run out the clock, but a Jaquez Johnson lost a fumble and Wyoming capitalized with an improbably 88-yard pass play to Dominic Rufran to set up a game-winning 18-yard Stuart Williams field goal. In a tight battle, FAU’s Greg Joseph hit four field goals and Johnson took off for a 14-yard scoring dash, while Wyoming got short touchdown runs from Shaun Wick and D.J. May to keep pace. Joseph’s 33-yard field goal with just over eight minutes appeared to hold up until the wild ending.
What Else? Wyoming RB Shaun Wick ran 14 times for 111 yards and a score, and D.J. May added 71 yards and a score on 15 carries
- Florida Atlantic QB Jaquez Johnson completed 14-of-28 passes for 99 yards and ran 11 times for 44 yards and a touchdown
- Turnovers: FAU 3 (all fumbles) – Wyoming 1
- Wyoming QB Colby Kirkegaard completed 10-of-23 passes for 161 yards – 88 in on play to Dominic Rufran
Game Rating: A
Sept. 13 at Florida Atlantic 50, Tulsa 21
And You Care Because … FAU got its first win of the year as Jacquez Johnson completed 15-of-20 passes for 318 yards and three touchdowns and he ran for a score. Tulsa turned it over three times and was never in the game. FAU took a 17-0 first quarter lead and got up 33-7 going into halftime on a 59-yard touchdown catch from Henson Stoshak. Tulsa was outgained 518 yards to 363 and couldn’t stop giving up the really big pass play – FAU averaged 14.8 yards per pass.
Game Rating: D
Sept. 6 at Alabama 41, Florida Atlantic 0
And You Care Because … Alabama did whatever it wanted, getting up 21-0 in the first quarter on two Blake Sims touchdown passes and a seven-yard scoring run. Jake Coker came in and connected with Jalston Fowler for a three-yard touchdown late in the first half, and Adam Griffith nailed two field goals. The game was called halfway through the fourth due to lightning.
What Else? The quarterback battle for Alabama might have been settled with Blake Sims completed 11-of-13 passes for 214 yards and two scores, and running three times for 14 yards and a score. Jacob Coker wasn’t bad, but completing 15-of-24 passes for 292 yards and a score, but Sims was better.
- Amari Cooper was unstoppable, catching 13 passes for 189 yards and a score. Healthy, compared to early last year, he’s looking unstoppable.
- FAU wasn’t able to do anything to keep the chains moving, converting on just two of ten third down chances and getting stuffed for 145 yards of total offense.
- Owl LB Andrae Kirk had a nice day making seven tackles and a sack, but for the most part, FAU wasn’t able to provide any pressure.
Game Rating: D
Aug. 30 at Nebraska 55, Florida Atlantic 7
And You Care Because … Ameer Abdullah ripped off 232 yards with a 47-yard touchdown dash, and the Nebraska offense cranked out a school-record 782 yards in the blowout. FAU tied the game at seven in the first quarter on a 20-yard Lucky Whitehead touchdown catch, but then it was all Huskers the rest of the way in a devastating performance. Terrell Newby ran for two touchdowns and Tommy Armstrong threw two scoring passes and ran for another.
What Else? You don’t think one Pelini brother is providing a little bit of payback for another Pelini brother? Bo didn’t exactly take it easy on his brother Carl’s old team.
- Ameer Abdullah put up a huge day with 232 yards and a score on 21 carries, and Terrell Newby came up with 16 carries for 107 yards and two touchdowns.
- There wasn’t much of a Husker pass rush, but the D came up with nine tackles for loss. FAU didn’t generate a sack or a tackle for loss – the Husker O line did its job.
- FAU got an okay day from RB Jay Warren – he ran 14 times for 77 yards averaging 5.5 yards per carry – but the Owls ran into a buzzsaw. They weren’t able to get anything going after the first quarter.
Game Rating: D
After a most unusual season, things are actually looking up for the Owls.
Last year was an odd one for Florida Atlantic, which abruptly fired Carl Pelini on Oct. 30 for non-football reasons, only to rally down the stretch to finish at .500. New head coach Charlie Partridge, who knows the Sunshine State from his many years of recruiting as an assistant, inherits a team that’s won four in a row and has a solid base of talent on which to build a little further in 2014.
The 40-year-old Partridge has quickly ascended up the ranks, using stops at Pittsburgh, Wisconsin and Arkansas to become the third head coach in Florida Atlantic history. His first Owl team is going to feature leading men on both sides of the ball, including nine of the 14 players to earn at least honorable mention All-Conference USA in 2013.
The offense will sport a dangerous triggerman, second-year QB Jaquez Johnson, and a veteran big-play target in WR William Dukes. What the Owls now need is more playmakers, especially out of the backfield, to prevent Johnson from shouldering the load on his own. Last year’s top rusher and pass-catcher are gone, creating voids that a handful of former backups are hoping to fill this summer.
Defense was a huge surprise in Boca Raton last fall. Florida Atlantic headed up Conference USA in total D, while holding six opponents under 20 points. New coordinator Roc Bellantoni will naturally want to add his own tweaks and formations to the playbook, but he might as well just turn his kids loose in September. Since the Owls have a star at each level, DT Brandin Bryant, LB Andrae Kirk and CB D’Joun Smith, repeating last season’s results is where the bar will be set.
Florida Atlantic suffered an unexpected setback in 2013, losing the coach that was supposed to lead the program to perennial stability and prosperity. All things considered, the Owls have rebounded rather well from the Pelini mess. Not only do they believe in Partridge’s vision for the future, but the future might be now. FAU is built to compete in the East Division and snap its six-year bowl drought.
What to watch for on offense: Junior Jenson Stoshak will benefit when William Dukes is double-teamed. Dukes is FAU’s most dangerous target in the passing game, which will make him a DB magnet. Stoshak is ready to pick up the slack. As a sophomore last season, he came off the bench to catch 23 balls for 298 yards. The former walk-on has packed on close to 20 pounds and improved his route-running to take the lead at “X” receiver. Stoshak is capable of catching 45-50 balls this season as the possession receiver complement to Dukes.
What to watch for on defense: The battle at defensive end. The Owls are set on the interior with Brandin Bryant and Trevon Coley. The edge is a very different story. The graduations of Cory Henry and Martin Wright will force the new staff to mine pass rushers out of the holdovers. Robinson Eugene and Trey Hendrickson are the favorites to start after lettering as members of the 2013 rotation. While Eugene is an every-down player, the 222-pound Hendrickson has the size and the speed of a situational lineman.
This team will be far better if … it defends the run with greater consistency. The Owls were stout on defense a year ago, but no one was happy about yielding 4.4 yards per carry. Yes, the numbers were skewed by visits to Miami and Auburn. But Florida Atlantic also gave up more than 200 yards on the ground Middle Tennessee and Rice, which were both losses. While the team is sound up the middle, it still needs to improve at clogging lanes and preventing yards after contact.
The Schedule: Well this should be fun. Welcome to the 2014 season, Florida Atlantic, now play at Nebraksa and at Alabama to kick things off. After getting the home opener against Tulsa, it's back on the play to Wyoming. If that wasn't enough, there's a run of three home games in four before closing out against Old Dominion. There aren't any real breaks in conference play, either, having to go on the road to deal with Marshall in division play, and needing to face a strong North Texas team on the road from the West to go along with interdivisional games against UTSA and UAB.
Best Offensive Player: Junior QB Jaquez Johnson. Florida Atlantic has a franchise quarterback, and not a moment too soon. In his debut out of junior-college, Johnson led the Owls in rushing, while steadily evolving as a pocket passer. The 6-1, 225-pound bruiser can do it all from behind center, from running over tacklers in the open field to being the vocal leader in the huddle. FAU has its centerpiece of the offense, and it’ll have him running the show for the next two seasons.
Best Defensive Player: Senior CB D’Joun Smith. Now that his reputation as a ball-hawk has made its way throughout Conference USA defensive meeting rooms, Smith will cut off half the field for opposing quarterbacks. He’ll stick to the other guy’s best receiver, forcing passers to check down and survey the field in order to find an open man. That extra second or two that Smith will give to his line could result in a spike in FAU sacks in 2014.
Key player to a successful season: Sophomore RB Jay Warren. The offense is liable to take another step forward, but only if balance and diversity can be achieved. Warren is the key to making the Owls very difficult to defend this season. The team is set at quarterback with dual-threat Jaquez Johnson. If Warren can victimize defenses that lock into Johnson, Florida Atlantic could become Conference USA’s top attack this side of Huntington, W.V.
The season will be a success if ... the Owls bowl. Florida Atlantic is slowly moving up the Conference USA pecking order. It can really make a statement in 2014 by nabbing one of the league’s automatic bowl berths. The road schedule is nasty, highlighted by trips to face Nebraska, Alabama and Marshall. However, the Owls will be competitive in every other game, making bowl-eligibility for the first time since 1998 a realistic pursuit.
Key game: Sept. 13 vs. Tulsa. Barring a historic upset, the Owls are going to be 0-2 following season-opening trips to Lincoln and Tuscaloosa. The goal in September will be to use the first two weeks as learning experiences, but that’s only if Florida Atlantic can rebound with a win in its home opener. Seasons hinge on runs and momentum, and FAU can ill-afford to let a rocky first month derail the gains Charlie Partridge’s staff has made this offseason.
2013 Fun Stats:
- Passing yards per game: Florida Atlantic 199.2 – Opponents 161.1
- Third-down conversions: Florida Atlantic 40% – Opponents 33%
- Second-half scoring: Florida Atlantic 171 - Opponents 104
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