Getting closer

Running+back+Alfred+Morris+slams+into+a+group+of+ULL+defenders+last+year+in+a+game+FAU+won+24-23.++Photo+by+Ralph+Notaro.

JC Ridley

Running back Alfred Morris slams into a group of ULL defenders last year in a game FAU won 24-23. Photo by Ralph Notaro.

Zack Duarte

Running back Alfred Morris slams into a group of ULL defenders last year in a game FAU won 24-23. Photo by Ralph Notaro.

When: Sat. Oct. 1 2011
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: Cajun Field
TV: ESPN3.com
Radio: 760 AM

 

So the Owls have a pulse after all.

 

After failing to show up against the Florida Gators and Michigan State Spartans, FAU showed signs of life against the defending national champions, the Auburn Tigers, while losing 30-14. The offense was able to move the ball and totalled over 300 yards. The defense was able to contain the Tigers high powered offense. The Owls still lost, but the team picked up some momentum heading into conference play, which begins Saturday against Louisiana-Lafayette.The Ragin’ Cajuns (3-1) are no picnic either, though. They just beat the defending Sun Belt Champions, FIU, who were off to a hot 3-0 start and received votes to be placed amongst the Top 25 teams in the country.Louisiana’s offense features dual-threat quarterback Blaine Gautier, who threw for three touchdowns against FIU and isn’t afraid to go deep with his arm or try to make something happen with his feet.

Defensive end Kevin Cyrille disrupts a pass ULL quarterback Blaine Gautier tried to throw down the field in a game last year. FAU would go on to win 24-23. Photo by Ralph Notaro.

On defense, the Ragin’ Cajuns aren’t to be feared. They rank 95th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 31.3 points per game. Their strength on defense is causing turnovers. Louisiana is tied for 13th in college football for interceptions with six, and they have returned four of those for touchdowns.

If FAU wants to win this game, they have to get the running game more involved. The offense totalled 307 yards against Auburn but quarterback Graham Wilbert threw three interceptions, which gave Auburn prime field position each time. One even gave Auburn a touchdown.

The 108 rushing yards FAU had against Auburn is deceiving. It’s a nice number, but they only averaged 3.2 yards a carry. The Owls need to find ways – like they did against Auburn – to use the running game to their advantage in order to set up the passing game.

Alfred Morris ran the ball effectively against the Tigers. He averaged 5.7 yards per carry but only had 15 carries.

FAU is going to need to keep Blaine Gautier off the field, and the only way to do that is to keep the Ragin’ Cajuns defense on the field.

Graham Wilbert showed he could be an efficient passer against Auburn, just not when throwing down field. Offensive coordinator Darryl Jackson should dial up more screens, slants and 10 yards-or-less passing routes and, if the running game is as effective as needed, going down the field for bigger passing plays shouldn’t be a problem.

Expect FAU to take more steps in the right direction, but a win against Louisiana Lafayette still looks to be a bit more than the Owls can handle just yet.

Prediction: Louisiana-Lafayette 30 FAU 20