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A slow first quarter dooms FAU to a 45-21 loss to Ohio State

Despite the blowout result, there was a lot of positives for the Owls.

NCAA Football: Florida Atlantic at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State defeated FAU 42-21 thanks in large part to the first quarter of the game. The Buckeyes outscored the Owls 28-0. If this start sounds familiar for the Owls, it’s because it was.

Last year FAU opened against the Oklahoma Sooners and the Owls faced the same deficit following the first quarter.

However unlike last year’s game against the Sooners, the Owls battled back. That alone is a positive sign for the Owls. But there were other positive takeaways too.

Behind the stingy play of the defense, FAU won the second quarter 3-0, as the Buckeyes failed to reach the end zone. The Owls forced two turnovers in the quarter, as Rashad Smith and Quran Hafiz each recovered a fumble.

Special teams was also a positive development in the second quarter. After an uneven season, Vladmir Rivas knocked in a short field goal before halftime to put the Owls on the board. Rivas finished a perfect 2-for-2 on field goals today.

After struggling with punts all last season, new punter Matthew Hayball had a 70-yard punt and pinned the Buckeyes inside the 20. Defense and special teams both looked much improved from last season. Glenn Spencer might really be capable of fielding a special unit this season and special teams don’t appear to be an outright disaster.

Unfortunately, the offense failed to inspire too many vibes that 2019 will be much better than 2018. In that abysmal first quarter, FAU had -4 total yards, -1 passing yards, and only had one first down. Alabama transfer BJ Emmons suffered a gruesome ankle injury and everything went downhill from there. Drops ruined Chris Robison’s confidence, James Charles was unable to generate anything on the ground due to an outmatched offensive line, and the play-calls still lacked imagination. Not to mention miscommunication was rampant among Robsion and his receivers throughout the game.

In the final quarter the offense finally woke up as the Owls recorded back-to-back touchdown drives. The scores were in garbage time, but these are the type of drives that can generate momentum into the next game.

As poor as Robison looked to start the game, he finished 22-of-34 for 178 yards with a touchdown pass to John Raine. He played much better in the second half versus the second one. The rushing offense is going to be a work in progress, but James Charles and Larry McCammon each had their moments, combining for 47 yards on the ground and a McCammon score.

Even with the blowout result, there were good things to takeaway from the game and I look for Lane Kiffin and co. to lean on this message.

Next week FAU will welcome the UCF Knights. The atmosphere is sure to be electric at FAU Stadium as the Knights are expected to be one of the best teams in the country.

FAU will have a great opportunity to make amends for last year’s loss and put a stamp on this season being much different than last year.