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Florida Atlantic Owls 2014: Mid-Season Recap

Six games in and I have no idea if FAU football is any good. I take a look back at the Owls so far and try to make sense of everything we've seen.

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"It is the plain and very sobering truth that before great moments, certainly before great spiritual moments, there can come adversity, opposition, and darkness. Life has some of those moments for us, and occasionally they come just as we are approaching an important decision or a significant step in our life." - former BYU president, Jeffrey R. Holland

College football can sometimes provide us with these adverse, sobering moments.

Some weeks, you lose to your rival in a lightning-soaked blowout that saw your team turn the ball over three times in the red zone. But, lost in that result, was the dark clarity of David Lozandier's potentially career-ending injury. Other weeks, you can witness an incredible, season-saving victory against a more experienced team in front of your home crowd. But, forgotten in the game's final moments, was Brandin Bryant's second knee injury that will keep him out for the rest of 2014.

I truly believe that this team's best football is still ahead of them. Florida Atlantic has already seen some terrible losses on the field and now their misfortune is beginning to appear via the injury bug. This bye week couldn't have come at a better time.

The Owls have faced their opposition and now wait in sports purgatory - a location reserved strictly for teams that lose terribly to a rival. But, no matter how many of these moments of great adversity continue to present themselves to our mighty Owls, they know that their next decision will be the most important. Do you pack it in for the year and build for the future? Or, do you turn to your fallen teammates, regroup and play the best football Boca Raton has ever seen?

WHAT WE KNOW:

Lucky Whitehead

The senior from Manassas, Virginia never seemed to get off the ground in 2013. Whether it was injuries or play-calling, we all began to have our doubts about the ninja-fast kid with red dreads. Luckily, this season has been a complete change of pace. Whitehead has already doubled up on last season's rushing totals with 14 carries for 80 yards. While the jet sweep play in offensive coordinator Brian Wright's book of tricks seems tailor-made for Lucky, the real spark has been provided through the air. Whitehead is up to 311 yards off 36 receptions and has already matched last year's total of two touchdowns. There is no doubt that Lucky is the most dynamic player on FAU's team and we can only continue to expect great things for the second half of the year.

Jaquez Johnson

As Quez goes, so go the Owls. It is his team. His offense, his leadership, his carries, his touchdowns. While the offense moves with pristine fluidity and a lack of distinguishable pace, it is Johnson that truly stifles defenses. Sometimes, the Owl offense appears lost in their own sea of misdirection. Jaquez always attempts to right the ship against these violent waters, but when he is tasked to do it all, it usually ends up poorly for FAU. While Johnson is right on track to match last year's passing total (998 yards), it is the rushing yards that seem to be a bit suspect so far. 182 yards is rather low for a quarterback built like Jaquez, but Owl fans can still take solace in his three rushing touchdowns.

This Is Not The Same Defense

FAU finished last season ranked 11th in the country in total defense. While this is a great number and everything, the true sticking point was how aesthetically dominant every defensive unit was in 2013. From the defensive backs to the front line, every position unit experienced a break-out performance that passed the eye test. Statistically and visually, this season's defense has been a completely different monster. Opponents averaged just over 22 points per game last season, while they are averaging a hair over 35 this year. After six games, opposing offenses have already racked up 146 first downs and are converting on third downs 47.7% of the time. Compare that to last year's 207 first downs and 33.3% conversion rate and you can see just how far this defense has fallen.

OUTLOOK:

There is still time for Florida Atlantic to turn their season around. There is also still time for the Owls to majestically burn to the ground in a fireball of empathy and third-down conversion rates. Six games, all against C-USA opponents, remain for FAU this season. A quick glance at the matchups reveals four winnable contests for the Owls, with three of those taking place in Boca Raton. Charlie Partridge has already proven he can convince recruits to come to FAU and represent #OwlNation, but can he motivate his own players and reach the oasis of bowl eligibility?