Football Preview: Owls attempt to end season on high note at Old Dominion

FAU looks to ruin the Monarchs’ bowl chances with a win

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Redshirt senior quarterback Jaquez Johnson (32) throws to senior wide receiver Jenson Stoshak (88). Johnson had 148 yards passing against the University of Florida on Nov. 21. Mohammed Emran | Asst. Creative Director

Hans Belot Jr., Contributing Writer

After a spirited effort last weekend that saw the Florida Atlantic Football take the 10th-ranked University of Florida Gators to overtime but lose 20-14, the Owls will be looking to close out the season strong versus Old Dominion to spoil the Monarchs’ bowl hopes..

The Owls (2-9, 2-5 Conference USA) played possibly their best defensive game of the season, holding the Gators to only 252 total yards, having originally averaged 360.1 per game. However, the offense was never able to jump start, having 299 yards of total offense but only one score.

The Monarchs (5-6, 3-4 Conference USA), who are coming off a 56-31 loss to the University of Southern Mississippi last Saturday, are currently ranked fourth in the conference and are 3-3 at home this season.

The two teams have only played each other once during their respective history, with Old Dominion winning the only matchup 31-28 last season at FAU Stadium on a last-second field goal.

Here’s what you need to know for the game

Old Dominion ranks just above FAU in C-USA in scoring offensively, ninth and 10th respectively. The Monarchs have been back and forth between quarterbacks Shuler Bentley and wide receiver turned quarterback turned back into wide receiver David Washington.

Washington has played better in the four games he has been at quarterback than the five he has at wide receiver, throwing for three pass touchdowns against three interceptions.

Bentley, on the other hand, has had an inconsistent year so far, often being benched in favor of Washington. He has thrown for nine pass touchdowns and six interceptions, and only completed 51.1 percent of his passes.

The Monarchs’ offense has been their primary weapon this season, with running back Ray Lawry leading the way with 1,155 rushing yards on 190 carries, to go along with 11 touchdowns.

Old Dominion’s defense has also been inconsistent this season, ranking ninth in total defense and 12th versus the running game. The Monarchs are giving up an average of 199.5 rushing yards per game, including 310 yards last weekend in their 56-31 loss to Southern Miss.

Coming off last weekend’s loss to the Gators, the Owls’ defense only gave up 252 total yards and held quarterback Treon Harris to 122 passing yards.

“I thought the assistant coaches put together a great game plan and they gave us a chance to win,” said head football coach Charlie Partridge after last Saturday’s game.

Although FAU’s offense outgained the Gators, the Owls turned the ball over three times and senior quarterback Jaquez Johnson only completed 51 percent of his passes and had a passer rating of 13.6 out of 100.

With the Owls’ second leading rusher and leading touchdown rusher, freshman running back Trey Rodriguez questionable with a shoulder injury, sophomore running back Greg Howell led the way with 60 yards on 12 carries. The entire team finished the game with 140 rushing yards.

So who will win?

Trey Rodriguez (shoulder), Jenson Stoshak (hamstring), Henry Bussey (sternum bruise) and Kalib Woods (concussion) are yet to be fully cleared. With four of FAU’s offensive starters questionable for the game, defense will play a major role keeping the scoreline close.

The Owls will look to take advantage of the Monarchs’ defensive weakness by attacking early with the running game to open up the passing plays.

Although Bentley is coming off a strong game, FAU needs to take advantage of his turnover-high season by getting the defensive line to put pressure on him and force mistakes. The Owls rank second in C-USA in interceptions with 14 this season, with senior defensive back Cre’von Leblanc leading the way with four.

The Monarchs will mostly rely on their offense to outscore the Owls in order to win the game. Old Dominion has averaged 33.2 points in their five wins and only 15.6 points in their six losses.

Hans Belot Jr. is a contributing writer with the University Press. To contact him on this or other stories, email him at [email protected]