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Football: Preview versus Wisconsin Badgers

Lane Kiffin and company look to improve upon their season opening loss to Navy.

FAU%E2%80%99s+defensive+line+prepares+for+a+Navy+offensive+play+during+the+third+quarter+of+their+game+last+Friday.+Navy+won+42-19.+Alexander+Rodriguez+%7C+Photo+Editor
FAU’s defensive line prepares for a Navy offensive play during the third quarter of their game last Friday. Navy won 42-19. Alexander Rodriguez | Photo Editor

FAU’s defensive line prepares for a Navy offensive play during the third quarter of their game last Friday. Navy won 42-19. Alexander Rodriguez | Photo Editor

FAU’s defensive line prepares for a Navy offensive play during the third quarter of their game last Friday. Navy won 42-19. Alexander Rodriguez | Photo Editor

Ryan Lynch, Business Manager

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After dropping its home opener to the Navy Midshipmen last Friday 42-19, FAU will have to prepare to travel for the first time this year to play the Wisconsin Badgers. Facing a team that cruised to an easy 59-10 victory over the Utah State Aggies, the Owls and head coach Lane Kiffin have plenty of adjustments they will need to make going into the week.

Here’s what you need to know heading into this week’s matchup:

Who’s the quarterback?:

During the Navy game, both redshirt sophomores Daniel Parr and De’Andre Johnson received playing time as the starting quarterback, while redshirt junior Jason Driskel sat out the game.

Parr was the first into the game and was inconsistent throughout, throwing an interception, despite racking up 281 pass yards and two touchdowns on the night. Johnson came in midway through the third quarter and immediately rushed for two first downs and had a completion, but a mishandled snap set back the forward progress he had made and the team settled for a field goal.

Starting this week, Kiffin has said he will give all three a chance to take the job.

“There will be an evaluation,” Kiffin said to Matthew DeFranks of the Sun Sentinel on Monday. “It started today already in practice today. We gave all three guys some reps today. We’ll continue to evaluate it.”

Whoever takes the field will face a Badgers defense that allowed 219 pass yards, no touchdowns, and forced three interceptions against Utah State quarterback Kent Myers. To stay in this game, the offense will have to get on the same page and string together drives more consistently than its first effort of the year.

Can’t Run Amok:

Navy’s triple option attack did little to prove FAU’s defense had improved from last year as it ran for 418 yards and five scores on the night. The defense that finished 123rd out of 128 teams in points given up looked unchanged.

After that barrage of run attempts they took, the Owls will have their first look at a more common offensive scheme with the Badgers.

Four separate running backs scored for Wisconsin during their game while the team racked up 234 rushing yards. That total included running backs Jonathan Taylor (87 yards, one touchdown) and Bradrick Shaw (84 yards and one score, listed as questionable after injuring his right leg in the opening game).

Wisconsin rushed 45 times compared to 23 pass attempts during its game against the Aggies, so the Owls will have to prepare for a decent amount of carries. If they can make stops through the middle on the back of junior linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair and sophomore linebacker Rashad Smith, that can set up the secondary for more chances at turnovers such as sophomore cornerback Chris Tooley’s interception.

Breaking in their Backs:

On the flip side, FAU’s run game didn’t help itself make offensive progress, as the team rushed for a grand total of 40 yards for the whole game. No running back got more than six carries for the game and the team averaged only 1.7 yards per rush.

The main reasons for the low total were the three mishandled snaps that caused 47 lost yards for the Owls. Without those errors, the duo of running backs in redshirt sophomore Kerrith Whyte and sophomore Devin Singletary plus Johnson would have totaled 93 yards.

The Owls still beat out Utah State’s total of 85 yards, but it seems they need to work their running backs into the game more. Expect more carries from the unit in the game.

Ryan Lynch is the business manager of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email ryanmlynch77@gmail.com or tweet him @RyanLynchwriter.

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