After an abysmal season opener against No. 6 Oklahoma, FAU looked more like the explosive team we became familiar with in 2017 as the Owls defeated Air Force 33-27. Unlike 2017 where FAU’s explosive offense was a product of Devin Singletary runs, yesterday we saw the passing offense take a huge step forward.
Chris Robison threw for 471 yards and three touchdowns, breaking FAU’s single-game passing yards record. In the offseason I believed FAU would enter the 2018 season with the most talent they have ever had at receiver and on Saturday that certainly looks like that will be the case.
Jovoan Durante had 12 catches for 174 yards and two touchdowns. Tavaris Harrison had seven catches for 138 yards. Willie Wright, six catches for 75 yards and two touchdowns. Lane Kiffin constantly tried to exploit Air Force’s lack of speed in the secondary with jet sweeps, screen plays and vertical routes. It worked in large part due to Robison’s much improved accuracy.
Devin Singletary was bottled up for most of the day, rushing for 57 yards and one touchdown. The Falcons made Motor the focal point of their strategy by stacking the box, preventing the All-American back from getting into a rhythm. If it wasn’t for Robison’s career day the Owls might be 0-2.
Defensively, FAU struggled to defend the option offense. Limiting an option offense to 3.7 yards per rush is fine. Allowing Air Force to pass for over 150 yards however, is not.
Rashad Smith was fantastic with a career-high 16 tackles and had the game-sealing interception, but the secondary has yet to transition smoothly into Tony Peccaro’s scheme two games in. Being that the option offense is rarely something FAU sees, it’s hard to cast judgements from yesterday’s performance. The front seven certainly looked better and tackling improved a ton, but there’s still a lot of work to do before the UCF game.
Speaking of work to do, FAU’s special teams continues to be a concern. For the second straight week freshman punter Sebastian Reilla had a his punt blocked and returned for a touchdown. The play happened at a critical juncture of the game as FAU was on the verge of putting the game away, leading 33-20 with less than a minute left in the game. A few plays later Air Force recovered an onside kick, forcing the defense to make a stand to win the game.
FAU is still a work in progress, but I’ll take a win over a solid G5 program any week. Two weeks into the season and FAU’s goals are still on the table. However, if the Owls are to redeem themselves on the big stage against UCF, the team needs to look a lot more crisp in the next two weeks to have a chance.