Football Preview: Two struggling conference foes meet Saturday when FAU visits Marshall

The Thundering Herd leads the all-time series against the Owls 3-0.


Owls quarterback Daniel Parr (13) throws a pass before 49ers redshirt senior defensive end Brandon Banks (5) can tackle him. Mohammed F. Emran | Staff Photographer

Hans Belot Jr., Contributing Writer

Five losses in a row has Florida Atlantic University in a tough spot, however time still remains for the Owls (1-5, 0-2 Conference USA) to get their season back on track, although the window is small and closing quickly.

Coming off a 28-23 home loss to Charlotte, the Owls are just two losses away from any bowl aspirations being wiped away, and any kind of season-saver starts this weekend when they visit Marshall University.

The Thundering Herd (1-4, 0-1 Conference USA) is struggling just as the Owls are, having suffered four straight defeats after winning its season opener 62-0 versus Morgan State University.

Here’s everything you need to know about both teams:

Marshall Thundering Herd:

Marshall, who has already lost more games this season (4) than they did all of last season (3), is one of the worst defensive teams in the country.

The Herd currently allows 41.points per game, which is ranked 124th out of 128 Football Bowl Subdivision teams and last in Conference USA.

Marshall gives up 485 yards per game, which is also ranked last in the conference.

Its defense has been unable to stop the rush or the pass, allowing 193.8 yards per game on the ground and 291.4 yards through the air.

The Herd’s offense, however, ranks fifth in the conference, averaging 35.2 points per game.

Marshall’s quarterback Chase Litton has been a huge part of that offense, throwing for 305 yards per game, which is ranked fourth among quarterbacks in Conference USA.

Although he distributes the ball well among his wide receivers — five receivers have 10 or more catches on the season — his favorite target has been Michael Clark, who averages 76.8 yards per game and has scored four touchdowns.

The Herd’s rushing offense has not been able to keep up with its passing attack, averaging just 119.2 yards per game which is last in the conference.

Florida Atlantic Owls:

The Owls defense has also been struggling like the Herd, giving up 37.2 points per game which is ranked ninth in the 13-team conference.

FAU has had a big problem stopping the run, allowing 245.5 rushing yards per game, the worst in the conference.

In total, the defense is giving up 482 yards per game, ranked 11th in the conference, and has allowed a total of 29 touchdowns on the season.

However, the Owls have been able to put pressure on opposing quarterbacking, forcing six interceptions which is tied for the most in the conference.

FAU’s offense averages 22.7 points per game, only good for 10th in the conference, and has been mostly kept afloat by two players.

Junior running back Greg Howell and junior wide receiver Kalib Woods have offered rare bright spots for the team.

Howell is currently averaging 84.2 rushing yards per game — ranked eighth among running backs in the conference — and is tied for second with eight touchdowns on the season.

Woods had another solid outing versus Charlotte last game, finishing with 11 catches for 105 yards. He raised his average to 82.7 yards per game, setting his average for the season 82.7 yards per game, ranked sixth in the conference among receivers.

Despite the struggles of sophomore quarterback Jason Driskel, head coach Charlie Partridge has maintained that Driskel will be the starting quarterback this week.

Driskel is currently averaging 192 passing yards per game on 59 percent completion rate, along with four touchdowns and five interceptions on the year.

Redshirt freshman Daniel Parr was able to get on the field last week versus Charlotte, completing 5-of-10 passes for 50 yards.

Partridge told FAU Owl Access that he’s confident Parr “could go in and do some good things, but he’s still not ready to be the starter at this point.”

Who has the edge?

In order for FAU to stop its current five-game losing streak, the Owls must take advantage of the Herd’s poor defense.

Howell will be one player who must feed off Marshall’s poor rushing defense, and the coaches should look into getting him, as well as the other running backs, the ball as often as possible.

Defensively, FAU has to contain Litton and Clark in order to give themselves a chance in this game.

Senior defensive end Trey Hendrickson and the rest of the defensive line will look to dominate the line of scrimmage and put some pressure on the quarterback, hoping to force Litton into mistakes.

Defensive coordinator Roc Bellantoni said that the 6-foot-7 Clark will be covered depending which side of the field he lines up on, but did make mention that sophomore Herb Miller could be the best matchup because of his length.

Marshall will look to finally get its running game going against FAU’s poor rushing defense. The Herd’s leading rusher Keion Davis will look to open the passing game as he tries to get going.

Davis currently averages 50 yards on the ground for the season.

Defensively, Marshall will try to contain Howell and the running game, hoping to force the Owls offense into a one-dimensional passing attack.

The game will kickoff at 7 p.m. inside Joan C. Edwards Stadium, in Huntington, West Virginia.

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