Hurricane Ian definitely dampened the mood during the week but there was still AAC football to be played.
While UCF’s home game against SMU was unable to be played this week — the game is moved to Wednesday, Oct. 5, and will be included in the week 6 recap — there was still a slate of five AAC games, including four conference games.
With that being said, congratulations to your winners on the scoreboard — Tulane, Memphis, ECU, and Cincinnati.
Now, let’s name our winners for the week.
The Big Winner: The Holten Ahlers to CJ Johnson Connection
The Holten Ahlers and CJ Johnson connection was alive and well in... *checks notes* Boca Raton, Fla.
It didn’t matter what stadium the game was held at because, throughout the game, Ahlers and Johnson were playing pitch and catch like a father and son in the backyard, connecting seven times during the game.
On those seven connections, the duo combined for 197 yards and four touchdowns. Among those touchdowns was a 74-yard touchdown grab by Johnson, where he snagged the ball and broke multiple tackles on the way to the end zone.
FIVE is going OFF in Boca right now pic.twitter.com/V6P5W8AYpA— ECU Football (@ECUPiratesFB) October 1, 2022
CJ Johnson has always had the talent and potential and even posted 908 yards as a true freshman in 2019 and this season, he seems to be putting it all together.
Obviously, Johnson has the 197-yard performance but he’s also put together performances of 90 yards against NC State and 91 yards against Campbell, while also scoring a touchdown in both games.
If Johnson can find that next level, watch out for this ECU offense because it can be incredibly dangerous.
The Big Loser: USF
We’re sticking in Boca Raton because the performance by USF — ECU’s opponent — was far from acceptable.
Yes, at first glance the 48-28 scoreline was unacceptable in itself but a deeper look at some of the numbers is not where they need to be.
While USF’s offense was good throughout the night — gaining 455 yards of offense — the Bulls’ defense struggled to keep ECU’s offense off the field.
We talked about the Ahlers and Johnson connection but Ahlers finished with 465 yards, finding Isaiah Winstead and Ryan Jones for touchdowns. ECU was also 6-of-13 on third down attempts and also converted all three of their fourth down attempts.
While there is still time remaining this season, USF needs to find their breakthrough and they need to find it soon. Not only have they not won a game against an FBS opponent in 1,072 days but they also have not won a road game in that same time.
With the talent that the Tampa area has in high school football, that’s unacceptable. No other way around it.
Winner: The Memphis defense
Is the Memphis defense going to be good all season? I don’t know, I’m not a prophet!
What I do know is that in Memphis’ 24-3 victory over Temple, that Memphis defense was having their way. If you need any indication of this, just take a look at the second-half drive chart.
Temple's offense couldn't get anything going in the second half lol pic.twitter.com/2MpyuVSlmW— Kevin Fielder (@TheKevinFielder) October 4, 2022
Don’t focus on Memphis’ offense — that’s not the point of this! — but focus on that defense. In the second half, Temple went three-and-out on their first three drives out of the half, threw two interceptions, and had two turnovers on downs.
Overall, Temple threw three interceptions, averaged just 2.4 yards per rush, and converted just 2 of their 16 third down attempts, all while scoring just three points.
I’m not a football mastermind but I think that’s not good for an offense but it is really good for a defense.
Credit to Memphis defensive coordinator Matt Barnes who might have found something with this defense.
Loser: Navy’s run game
Everyone and their dog knows that Navy wants to run the football and they have, normally, done well at running the football.
Well... Navy didn’t run the football well against Air Force. They were actually incredibly inefficient in the running game and it put their offensive behind the eight ball from the get-go.
The Midshipmen ran the ball 36 times against Air Force but gained just 114 yards, averaging just 3.4 yards per attempt. Their leading rusher on the day was quarterback Tai Lavatai, who finished with 34 yards on the ground.
Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem. Every team, even the surface academies, are allowed bad games on the ground but Navy just has not been efficient all year.
Through five games, Navy is averaging 176 rushing yards per game and 3.2 yards per carry. The inconsistency on the ground combined with an often poor game script has meant that the Midshipmen have had to throw the football more often, which they don’t want to do.