Well, that wasn't how I imagined this game would end. The Florida Atlantic Owls fumbled away a victory against Wyoming late and #OwlNation is left heart-broken. Some units performed well and others barely squeaked by. Here is this week's report card for FAU against Wyoming:
You may consider this a cop out, but I just cannot find a way to properly grade Jaquez Johnson's performance. Throughout the majority of Saturday's contest, Johnson teetered between efficient game-manager and explosive decision-maker. This would have been enough to secure a victory and a "B+" performance rating. Unfortunately, the last two minutes happened and every play leading up to the fumble was wiped away. I am thoroughly expecting a better performance by Quez against UTSA at home, but for this game, you can't help put place some of the blame on the quarterback.
Running Back: B-
Jay Warren has finally affirmed his spot atop the depth chart after his performance on Saturday. 22 carries for 108 yards will definitely give you a concrete argument for playing time, but it was the way Warren was used that gave me hope for the position. The Owls utilized an "Auburn-esque" read option attack a few times throughout the game that saw success for both Jaquez Johnson and Warren. With a scheme that seems tailored for his running style, Warren took advantage of the few holes the offensive line provided and sparked more than a few drives for FAU.
Wide Receiver: C
No FAU receiver surpassed 30 yards receiving. That pretty much sums up the performance for the receiving corps. The Owls couldn't get anything going through the air and while Jaquez Johnson's deep throws were lacking, the pass-catchers couldn't get much separation to begin with. Alex Deleon did look good on the three catches he made and Lucky Whitehead continued to show glimpses of the explosive playmaker he can become.
Offensive Line: C-
The offensive linemen started off slow against the Cowboys but eventually found their footing in the second quarter. Their sluggish performance was less than desirable, but I will commend them on picking up the pace when the Owls needed to score. The waning minutes of the game showed a different side to the line, and they will need to offer more protection if FAU wants to make anything happen in conference play.
Defensive Line: C+
Well, to put it lightly, the entire defense was pretty bad. This poor showing started with the defensive line. A first half that saw the Cowboys run all over the Owls has become the standard for the FAU this season. The defensive line did buckle down for the second half (whoa, Trey Hendrickson!) that allowed Florida Atlantic to creep back into contention, but their positives were squandered again with a huge performance by Wyoming running back Shaun Wick.
This has to be the most consistently inconsistent group on defense. Andrae Kirk displayed a few bright spots for the unit and David Lozandier had his name mentioned a few times, but overall, this was a bad showing. The Cowboys got whatever they wanted in the middle of the field and this group is the one to blame.
All Wyoming receivers not named Dominic Rufran looked pedestrian compared to the FAU secondary. Unfortunately, Rufran single-handedly put them back in their place. Christian Milstead put up a solid performance and D'Joun Smith is beginning to get back into the rhythm that saw him lead one of the better defensive units in the country last season. I have faith that these guys will turn it around in conference play.
Special Teams: A-
The FAU kickers and returners won the special teams battle outright. Greg Joseph is beginning to gain back some confidence points in my book and Lucky Whitehead was only a few trip-ups away from bringing one or two kicks back to the house for 6. I expect this facet of FAU's game to be amplified at home this season, but I am glad to see they can turn it on on the road as well.
Besides the terrible play-calling that led to the game-changing fumble, this wasn't a terrible performance. I think we all knew that the Owls would have to muscle out a victory in Laramie and they appeared ready to answer the call. Jay Warren was a workhorse and I'm glad to see his game expand beyond dive runs up the middle. The outcome still stings, but this is a solid Wyoming team that will do great things under coach Craig Bohl. The Owls return home to take on Larry Coker and UTSA on September 27th. Florida Atlantic will look to continue their undefeated home record and pick up their first conference win against the Roadrunners.