Football preview: FAU visits Kansas State in second straight road game

After having their longest winning streak in two years snapped, the Owls are looking to start a new one.


Junior running back Greg Howell contorts his body to fit through a hole in FAU’s loss at Miami on Sept. 10. Mohammed F. Emran | Staff Photographer

Hans Belot Jr., Contributing Writer


lorida Atlantic football has no time to dwell over its 38-10 loss to the University of Miami last Saturday and must quickly move on and prepare for Kansas State.

The Wildcats (0-1) are coming off a bye week following their 26-13 loss to Stanford University on Sept. 2.

FAU (1-1) hung around early against the Hurricanes, holding them scoreless in the first quarter one week after the they lit up Florida A&M University for 70 points in week one.

However, Miami’s offense started to get going and so did its running back Mark Walton.

Walton single handedly out rushed the entire Owls offense 155-47 and scored four touchdowns. Fellow running back Joseph Yearby was not too far behind, picking up 121 yards and a touchdown.

FAU and Kansas State met once in their history, back in 2006. The Wildcats shut out the Owls 45-0.

As the Owls get ready for a second straight road game, here’s what you need to know about their next opponent:

Keys to the game:

In his first collegiate start in week one of the 2015 season, Wildcats quarterback Jesse Ertz tore his ACL after only two plays and was eventually held out for the entire season.

Despite missing their starting quarterback, the Wildcats went on to average almost 30 points a game last season, which ranked seventh out of the ten teams in the high-scoring Big 12 Conference.

Ertz’s first game back from the knee injury proved to be a tough one. In the team’s opening game against Stanford, he connected on only 47 percent on his passes, threw one touchdown, one interception and finished with a 34.5 quarterback rating, which is a calculation of multiple passing statistics.

The Wildcats running game did little to help out their quarterback against the Stanford Cardinal. Kansas State collected 92 yards on 32 carries, led by Charles Jones’ 43 rushing yards.

A year ago however, the Wildcats averaged 157 rushing yards per game.

The Wildcats defense was no match for the high flying Cardinal offense, allowing 335 total yards of total offense. It was faced with the task of trying to stop Heisman candidate Cardinal, Christian McCaffrey, who collected 126 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

Kansas State was one of the worst defensive teams in the Big 12 last season, allowing 485 total yards per game, which ranked eighth among 12 teams. Of those 485 yards, 186 came on the ground.

A week after the Owls rushing offense exploded for 170 yards in their season opener, it took time for the running game to get going in week two against Miami. They ended up losing more yards than they gained in the first quarter and finished with 47 rushing yards.

Among the five qualified rushers, junior running back Greg Howell was one of only two FAU players who finished the game with positive yardage. He gained 75 yards on 19 carries while also scoring FAU’s lone touchdown of the game.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jason Driskel also struggled against Miami after a positive start to the season, connecting on 50 percent of his passes with no touchdowns and one interception.

The week prior, Driskel was 23-for-31 with 287 yards versus Southern Illinois and two touchdowns.

Redshirt junior wide receiver Kalib Woods was a bright spot in the loss, tallying 121 yards on nine catches, both career highs.

So who will win?

Offensive coordinator Travis Trickett’s offenses are known for their quick attack and the Owls will have to get back to doing just that.

They also must re-established the running game, which starts with the offensive line creating space and holes.

In week one, the carries were distributed almost evenly between Howell and redshirt freshman Kerrith Whyte Jr., allowing both players to stay fresh throughout.

However, Howell was handed most of the responsibilities versus Miami because of the struggles of Whyte — who finished with three yards on four carries —  and freshman Devin Singletary’s -4 yards on three carries.

Driskel will also have to use his mobility like he did in week one. The quarterback scrambled for 41 yards against Southern Illinois, but was crushed every time he got out the pocket versus Miami, finishing with -23 yards on the night.

For Kansas State, because Ertz is still weaving his way back from his injury, the team will hope its running game can get going early to open the passing game for the junior quarterback.

Senior defensive end Trey Hendrickson and the rest of the defensive line will hope to make it uneasy for Ertz in the pocket, who’s known for his ability to pick up first downs with his legs.

As most home openers are, the stadium will be loud, the crowd will be rocking and the Wildcats will try to feed off the energy from the fans to get their team going.

If the Owls can keep the running game from exploding, Ertz from being too comfortable in the pocket and keep the crowd out of it, FAU has a strong chance of coming out on top.

Kickoff is set to take place this Saturday, Sept 17 at 2:30 p.m. on Kansas State’s home field at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Hans Belot Jr. is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him at @Don_Phenom_.