Owls stumble out of the gate early, drop season opener to Ohio State, 45-21

Despite the loss, a lot can be learned from this season opener.

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Owls stumble out of the gate early, drop season opener to Ohio State, 45-21

Tight end Harrison Bryant was a huge part of the passing attack against Ohio State catching six passes for 79 yards. Photo by: Alex Liscio

Tight end Harrison Bryant was a huge part of the passing attack against Ohio State catching six passes for 79 yards. Photo by: Alex Liscio

Tight end Harrison Bryant was a huge part of the passing attack against Ohio State catching six passes for 79 yards. Photo by: Alex Liscio

Tight end Harrison Bryant was a huge part of the passing attack against Ohio State catching six passes for 79 yards. Photo by: Alex Liscio

Joseph Acosta, Contributing Writer

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The Florida Atlantic Owls came into this game as a 28 point underdog, and in the beginning, they sure looked the part. By the end of the first quarter, the Buckeyes (1-0) were up 28-0, and they never looked back, defeating the Owls (0-1) 45-21.

On the Owls side, quarterback Chris Robison threw the ball 34 times, completing 22 of his passes, and throwing a touchdown pass to senior tight end John Raine late in the game. Freshman back Larry McCammon III tacked on a rushing touchdown, the first of his career. McCammon and senior back James Charles carried the rushing load for the Owls after B.J. Emmons went down with what is feared to be a broken foot. 

Senior tight end Harrison Bryant struggled early, but finished the game with six receptions for 79 yards, and senior wideout John Mitchell added on four receptions for 57 yards.

For the Buckeyes, Quarterback Justin Fields, in his first start, ended completing 19 of his 26 passes for 229 yards and four touchdowns. Running back J.K. Dobbins ran for 91 yards and one touchdown. The Buckeyes defense was aggressive for most of the game, especially the defensive line that sacked Robison four times.

Despite the loss, there are many positives to take away from this season opener for the Owls, especially when compared to last year. After the first quarter, the defense really started to bring the fight to the Buckeyes, led by junior linebacker Akileis Leroy and senior safety Da’Von Brown, the latter leading the team with eight tackles. The Owls defense forced two turnovers, one on a backwards pass from Fields, and another on a forced fumble. These are adjustments expected to be seen with a new defensive coordinator in Glenn Spencer, and when at their best, this Owls defense will be a force later on in the season.

The offense struggled more to adjust to Ohio State than the defense. Ohio State has speed on every level of the defense, and Florida Atlantic couldn’t outrun them side-to-side. Credit to head coach Lane Kiffin and new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis Jr. on finding the soft spots in Ohio State’s cover three defense, allowing for playmakers like Bryant and Mitchell to get the ball in space. Chris Robison looked rattled early, as the offensive line struggled, but seemed to settle down and find his rhythm as the game went on.

Special teams stood out, with kicker Vladimir Rivas connecting on all of his extra point attempts and nailing both of his field goal attempts. Punter Matt Hayball had an excellent game, pinning Ohio State back in their own territory multiple times, including on a booming 70 yard punt.

All in all, the Owls didn’t quit when they were down early, something that didn’t happen last year at Oklahoma. They kept fighting, bringing intensity on both sides of the ball. Losing Emmons hurts, but with No. 17 ranked UCF coming into town for another big game, expect to see the FAU Owls from the second half more than the first.

Joseph Acosta is a contributing writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @acosta32_jp.