I think a certain segment of people are convinced that Florida Atlantic football is doing worse than last year.
From the team’s first game at no. 5 ranked Oklahoma to a 56-36 loss to the no. 16 ranked University of Central Florida on Friday, there has been a little talk of the team underperforming. I’m unsure if that case can be made.
First, the team has done slightly better in Out of Conference play record-wise. Last year’s OOC scheduling was similar to this one in makeup, with at least one ranked Power 5 team, the same FCS team in Bethune-Cookman and a service academy, with the only difference being the strength of the final opponent (no offense, Buffalo.)
Through its first four games, FAU was 1-3 last year and 2-2 this year. I would call that a progression in record, especially considering how similar the team’s play has been to the previous year.
Think about it: the offense last year suffered from the same inconsistency, with running back Devin Singletary being one of the few bright spots through that time. The quarterback who started for much of the early part of the season, Daniel Parr, wasn’t even the starter by the end of OOC play.
We see that again now. DeAndre Johnson has gotten more second-string attempts at quarterback, which could mean he would get more reps if Chris Robison continues to turn the ball over or has other issues.
Defense has been one of the main differences. With large losses to the Sooners and Knights, the Owls this year average 43.5 points given up per game. Last year, along with a shutout of Bethune-Cookman, they averaged 26.75 points surrendered per game.
A lot of that has had to do with the secondary. In four games, they have given up pass yard totals of 334, 164, 213 and 306 to go with 10 pass touchdowns. In the only exception under 200 yards against Air Force, they still gave up 209 rushing yards.
The defense returned 10 starters, so the inconsistency has kind of appeared out of nowhere. Missed tackles and receivers getting wide open in the middle of the field have made this the team’s biggest question so far besides quarterback.
Take the UCF loss as an example of all those factors. Robison threw three interceptions, including one for a touchdown, while the defense gave up 545 total yards and seven touchdowns. That was all while the Owls had success rushing the ball, with 320 yards and four touchdowns.
Change only the second half play for FAU and we may have had a much closer game on our hands.
Keeping that in mind, conference play will obviously be the true measuring stick for the team. Obviously, it’s not going to be easy to repeat an undefeated conference schedule, but there is a chance.
Games against Marshall, North Texas and Florida International, will go the furthest to deciding whether the team truly regressed. All the opponents mentioned have had a solid start coming through OOC play, so they will be ones you want to track.
All in all, there plenty of takeaways from FAU’s first four games. Does the secondary need to tighten up and stop giving up a ton of big pass gains? Yes. Will Devin Singletary break his own touchdown record? Potentially.
But will the world end because FAU lost to two ranked opponents? I don’t think so.
If FAU starts losing a lot in conference play, that’s when you hit the panic switch. But for now, you have to view this team as it is: one with a new quarterback only in its second year under a new head coach.