When: Saturday, September 6, 12:00 PM EST
Where: Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Television: SEC Network
Series: 2012: 40-7 Alabama
Ahh, Week Two. Another glorious week of college football and another Power 5 opponent for Florida Atlantic. This weekend, the Owls take a 12 hour drive north to Tuscaloosa for a match-up with head coach Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Saturday's game is the second of a two-game series between the Owls and Crimson Tide that saw AJ McCarron throw for 212 yards and three touchdowns in the first leg. This time around, Alabama faces a conundrum of sorts in the quarterback department and all signs point towards a QB contest, until a winner can separate themselves. Blake Sims and Jacob Coker will take turns behind center against the Owls and I briefly touched on their match-up possibilities here.
The Crimson Tide are coming off an unsettling victory over West Virginia that saw T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry both rush for over 100 yards each. Unfortunately for FAU, the production does not stop there as Amari Cooper, a south Florida native, reeled in 12 catches for 130 yards. Alabama can beat you in multiple facets and there is no way Nick Saban lets the Owls off easy with their putrid run defense.
Florida Atlantic will look to rebound against an angry Alabama team that struggled to match Nick Saban's standards in their opening week match-up. Further hindering the already tall task, Charlie Partridge has yet to announce the injury status of Jaquez Johnson and D'Joun Smith. If Johnson and Smith are unable to go, look for Greg Hankerson and Reggie Brown to fill in their roles, respectively. With a rout surely on the horizon for FAU, expect the plays to remain vanilla and the benches to be tapped early.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Jaquez Johnson and D'Joun Smith were both pulled from the Nebraska game early after sustaining injuries. The last we heard from coach Partridge is that their status should be considered day-to-day. If neither of them can start, the Owls will be forced to reach into their overmatched reserves.
The sophomore quarterback already has one start under his belt in last year's heartbreaking loss to Rice. Hankerson looked like a freshman QB then and continued to look like a freshman QB against Nebraska. Something's got to give and I just don't see it happening against Alabama.
One of the few positives from the shellacking last Saturday was the emergence of Lucky Whitehead. Every aspect of Whitehead's game blossomed in front of our eyes. The Owls need to get Lucky the ball and let him do his thing.
Dukes was supposed to be the big-time receiving threat for this Owl team but left Nebraska with a big fat goose egg. He was a complete non-factor against the Huskers and will need to get involved with the passing game if FAU wants to make a splash on offense.
Florida Atlantic's defense let up 779 yards of total offense (a school record) against Nebraska. Surrendering an amount of yardage anywhere close to that should be unacceptable for a team that prided itself on defense last season.
Opening week was a reality check for an FAU team that had high hopes for 2014. Now, don't get me wrong, I still believe Florida Atlantic can turn their season around and go bowling (fingers crossed for the Bahamas), but the Owls just don't have the depth to compete with an SEC powerhouse like Alabama. #OwlNation should be satisfied if Dukes can get it going and this one is still close by halftime. Yeldon and Henry take a backseat to Sims and Coker as FAU's secondary goes up against the toughest competition they will face all season. Unfortunately, unless the Owls play perfect football, this game will look a lot like last week.