The atmosphere at FAU Stadium was unlike anything you’d feel, hear, or see, if you’re accustomed to attending FAU games in Boca Raton. The stadium was packed in anticipation of the official start of the Lane Kiffin era. For the first time in years, it felt like a new FAU football program was going to take the field and showcase to fans that the program is about to realize their potential.
Nope. More of the same. In a game that ended up lasting far too long than it should have because of three long lightning delays, Navy dominated FAU 42-19 thanks to Zach Abey’s tremendous command of the triple-option offense as he finished the night with 235 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
In the words of Lane Kiffin, it was an embarrassing defeat. The offense dealt with errant snaps, a lack of cohesion, and most notably, no significant rushing plays. Devin Singletary and Buddy Howell received six carries and one carry respectively. Seven running plays for the two best weapons on offense is terrible.
Kendall Briles called the game Friday night. Let’s hope Kiffin gets in his ear about giving the ball to his best players a lot more often going forward.
Daniel Parr got the surprise start and looked decent. Parr passed for 281 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. 95 Of those yards came on a touchdown pass to Willie Wright which gave FAU a 10-7 lead in the second quarter.
It was one of the few moments in which the stadium was alive during the game. From that point on, Navy did what they usually do under Ken Niumatalolo: put their head down, and execute the option-offense with deadly precision.
On the ensuing drive, Zach Abey marched the Midshipmen down the field and capped the drive with a 40-yard touchdown run. On the next drive right before the half, Abey would find Tyler Carmona for a 56-yard completion that would conclude with a four-yard touchdown run from Joshua Walker to give them a 21-10 lead at the half.
On the first drive of the second half Walker would score again, this time from 48-yards out to give Navy a 28-10 lead.
There was a slight spark from De’Andre Johnson as Briles finally started to call running plays but one of many high snaps from Antonyo Woods caused the drive to end with a 54-yard field goal from Greg Joseph to make it 28-13 halfway through the third quarter. But even the most optimistic FAU knew it was game, set, match, at that point.
The defense wouldn’t get the stops they needed to get closer as they allowed Navy to rush for 416 yards with an abysmal 6.1 yards per carry. There were many times where FAU defenders had Abey and other Navy ball carriers near the line of scrimmage but were unable to wrap up. Tackling was an issue last season and it was one of many issues last night.
How the FAU community reacts to another let down performance from their Owls going forward will be interesting. In a night filled with hope, the conclusion was an all too familiar result. Another let down performance from FAU.
It’s only one game, but the start of the Lane Kiffin era could not have had a more discouraging start.