Football Preview: Buffalo

The Owls host Buffalo Saturday, looking for their first win of the season.

FAU+junior+running+back+Jay+Warren+%2825%29+rushes+past+UM+senior+linebacker+Raphael+Kirby+%2856%29+and+UM+junior+defensive+back+Jamal+Carter+%286%29+for+a+nine+yard+run+with+9%3A46+left+in+the+first+half+of+Friday%E2%80%99s+44-20+loss+versus+Miami.+Warren+ended+the+game+with+one+touchdown.+Brandon+Harrington+%7C+Contributing+Photographer

Brandon Harrington

FAU junior running back Jay Warren (25) rushes past UM senior linebacker Raphael Kirby (56) and UM junior defensive back Jamal Carter (6) for a nine yard run with 9:46 left in the first half of Friday’s 44-20 loss versus Miami. Warren ended the game with one touchdown. Brandon Harrington | Contributing Photographer

Josh Talero, Contributing Writer

With the season moving into its third week, Florida Atlantic football is still searching for its first win. One week removed from a 44-20 defeat against the University of Miami, the Owls face off against the University of Buffalo (1-1) at home this Saturday at noon.

Here’s what you should keep in mind for this week’s game:

Despite losses, FAU rides momentum and knows who its playmakers are after their first two games.

In their week one loss against Tulsa, FAU’s offense hung up 44 points and a total of 563 yards.

Producing a balanced attack in the team’s first appearance of the year, Jaquez Johnson passed for 263 yards and two touchdowns, while running backs Jay Warren and Greg Howell combined for 205 yards and three touchdowns. Jenson Stoshak and Kalib Woods each caught a touchdown, while Stoshak had over 100 yards receiving.

Their defense was able to force four turnovers (two interceptions and two fumbles) but allowed Tulsa’s offense to gain 618 yards — 424 of which came via passing attack.

Their second game against Miami was seen on national television under Friday night lights.

It was also the first time FAU has hosted a Power Five conference opponent (a team belonging to the ACC, BIG Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 or SEC) at FAU Stadium. According to the school’s athletic website, the game drew so much attention that FAU’s athletic department was forced to sell more tickets than they had anticipated due to additional student ticket requests.

After two games, FAU knows who its playmakers are: Warren, Howell, Stoshak and Woods are all capable of breakout games.

So far, the team’s top rushers, Howell and Warren, have dominated the run game. Howell has compiled 216 yards on 35 carries, averaging 6.2 yards per carry and two touchdowns, while Warren is averaging eight yards per carry with 199 yards on 25 carries and two touchdowns.

Receivers Stoshak and Woods have caught the majority of the team’s passes (10 and nine catches, respectively). Tyler Cameron, who arrived in Boca this past offseason after transferring from Wake Forest and moving to tight end, offers more versatility to the offense as he can lineup in the backfield, and has shown flashes of his ability to run after the catch — and flex. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWIaYfToYCA&feature=youtu.be

Jaquez, a seasoned starter, can keep defenses unbalanced with his running ability. If Johnson is unable to play due to the ankle injury he suffered in last week’s game, FAU has reliable options behind him, including backup quarterback Jason Driskel. Driskel took over for Johnson after he was injured in the first quarter of the Miami game and threw for 155 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions in his first appearance for the Owls.

What will Buffalo bring to FAU’s house this Saturday?

The Buffalo Bulls currently sit in the middle of the MAC East standings at 1-1. The Bulls’ offense averages 370.5 yards per game while allowing 298.5 yards per game.

Buffalo won big in its first game of the year against FCS team Albany, 51-14. The Bulls controlled the flow of the game, forcing four Albany turnovers and compiled 476 yards of total offense.

Their defense allows an average of 20.5 points per game and is coming off a loss at Penn State University, in which they kept Heisman hopeful Christian Hackenberg and the offense off-sync for a majority of the game before losing 27-14. The Bulls managed to keep Hackenberg at bay, with the quarterback going 14-for-27 on pass attempts with a touchdown, while finishing with a quarterback rating of 58.6.

As for team leaders, senior quarterback Joe Licata heads the team. Licata has thrown for 451 yards, four touchdowns and a 72.1 completion percentage during the start of this season. He currently sits fourth in program history for career passing yards with 6,762 yards, and has seen the field in all four of his years with the Bulls.

Running back Anthone Taylor averages 98.5 rushing yards per game this year and has found the end zone twice so far on rushes. Taylor is third all-time in rushing yards in the history of the program. Against Albany, Taylor ran the ball on 17 occasions for 104 yards and two touchdowns.

Senior wide receiver Ron Willoughby currently sits tied at seventh all time in receiving touchdowns in the program’s history with nine. Through the season, Willoughby has caught 11 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown as one of the Bulls’ primary receivers.

The Bulls will look to test FAU’s defense with their core of offensive players in Licata, Taylor and Willoughby. Licata should test a vulnerable FAU secondary with his 6-foot-4, 210-pound receiver Willoughby. And after holding Hackenberg to a 58.6 rating, Buffalo’s defense will bring some confidence with them, whether FAU starts Johnson or Driskel.

FAU surprised a lot of people after holding their own against Miami.

FAU’s 44-20 loss to Miami was closer than the box score indicates. Of the 30,321 fans in attendance, and countless others who tuned into the nationally televised game, all saw an FAU football team who was keeping a historically strong team on its heels through the first half.

The Owls trailed Miami 20-17 at halftime and tied it briefly in the third quarter as they were able to get past Miami’s rushing defense, all thanks to Jay Warren, who finished with 11 carries, 132 yards and one touchdown.

Jaquez Johnson left the game after the team’s first drive with an apparent ankle injury. Johnson did not return for the rest of the game as Driskel was able to keep the team in a competitive position.

FAU’s defense did an exceptional job in stopping Miami on third down conversions, as the Brad Kaaya-led Hurricanes only converted on three out of 13 chances.

The second half was a different story for the Owls, where it seemed as though they had begun to commit one mistake after the other. By the end of the game, FAU had committed five turnovers, losing three fumbles and throwing two interceptions.

So who wins?

To win, Buffalo will have to concentrate on stopping FAU’s running attack (223 rushing yards) and avoid penalties that take away their big gains (the Owls have committed 21 penalties in the past two weeks alone).

At the same time, the Owls will have to stop Joe Licata and Buffalo’s passing attack with a secondary that is looking to prove itself. FAU has allowed 91 points in its first two games, and Buffalo has shown that they are more than capable of scoring.

In order to capture their first win of the year, Howell and Warren will have to succeed in rushing, while the defense has to force turnovers to make sure the momentum is on their side.

Josh Talero is a contributing writer for the University Press. To contact him on this or other stories, he can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter.