Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Preview: FAU vs. Western Kentucky in first home game

Who: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
When: Saturday Oct. 15, 2011
Time: 4:00 p.m. EST
Where: FAU Football Stadium (30,000)
Radio: 760 AM
Series Record: FAU leads 3-0

To say the past week has been rough on the FAU football team would be a massive understatement.

The team has been riddled with questions about the disappointing performance against North Texas and poked fun at by the national media with the little attention it gets.

ESPN.com‘s Mark Schlabach has FAU ranked as the second worst team in the nation.

Even fans have been puzzled about why their team has been so bad. And now they’ll get the chance to finally see their Owls in person, as FAU will play its first home game of the season and second conference game on Saturday, against the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky (1-4, 1-1).

WKU is coming off its first victory of the season last week, in a double overtime game against fellow Sun Belt opponent Middle Tennessee State.

FAU (0-5, 0-2) is coming off an embarrassing loss to North Texas that provided the team with more questions than answers, as it enters arguably what is the most important game in program history.

David Kooi will get the start in place of Graham Wilbert, who was listed as “doubtful” on Tuesday. Wilbert hyper-extended his right elbow in the loss to North Texas. This puts even more importance on what I have preached all season in these game previews: For the Owls to land a victory they must run the football.

Their most explosive weapon on offense is running back Alfred Morris. Last week against UNT, Morris carried the ball 23 times for 162 rushing yards and a touchdown. The stat that gets the spotlight, though, is Wilbert’s 30 pass attempts. How does an inexperienced and mistake-prone quarterback get 30 pass attempts in just three quarters of play (Wilbert was pulled in the fourth quarter in favor of backup David Kooi), while the star running back only gets 23 carries?

Kooi led two fourth quarter scoring drives last week (one was capped off by a Morris 28-yard TD run), but was sacked four times in his one quarter of play. Kooi is a brash quarterback who plays for the extra yard instead of the next play.

WKU’s defensive weakness their run defense. Last week in a win against MTSU, they still allowed 200 yards on the ground. In week two against Navy, they gave up over 400 rushing yards.

On defense, the Owls made significant strides last week against UNT. The Mean Green only managed 237 yards (but 31 points, due mostly to interceptions) and star running back Lance Dunbar was shut down, as he averaged a measly 3.6 yards per carry.

WKU’s offense ranks at the bottom of most categories in college football. The Hilltoppers average 18.2 points per game (108th in the nation.) But they still have a dangerous weapon — running back Bobby Rainey.

Rainey already has 573 rushing yards this season, and is coming off a tremendous 2010 campaign that saw him run for over 1600 yards and 15 touchdowns, while averaging 4.9 yards a carry.

Unlike the Owls, the Hilltoppers aren’t afraid to ride their star running back to victory. In WKU’s victory last week, Rainey carried the ball 36 times out of the backfield for 147 yards and a touchdown. Rainey also caught 6 passes for 57 yards and a touchdown.

Put those two together and you have 42 touches, 204 all purpose yards and two touchdowns.

For FAU to see a shift in momentum, they’ll need stop Rainey and quarterback Kawaun Jakes. Jakes is an inefficient quarterback who can makes mistakes (8 interceptions this year), but can also make plays with his feet.

On offense, it’s simple: Alfred Morris here, Alfred Morris there, Alfred Morris everywhere.

Look for a boost in morale as the FAU football squad will be home and hopefully in front of a packed house Saturday afternoon. If the coaching staff can give Alfred Morris the ball more, instead of David Kooi, then the Owls will finally be out of last place in the Sun Belt Conference standings.

Prediction: FAU 31 WKU 21

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