Analysis: 3 keys to FAU football winning against Ball State

The Owls look to improve on their 0-2 start to the season.


To win Saturday against Ball State, the rushing game, led by freshman Larry McCammon II, needs to be explosive. Photo by: Michael Hoyos

Jensen Jennings, Contributing Writer

Head coach Lane Kiffin and the Owls are looking to collect their first win of the season after opening the season against two teams ranked in the AP Top 25.

Here are three things to watch as the Owls take on the Ball State Cardinals:

1. Defense needs to stop giving up big plays

Over the past two games, FAU’s defense has allowed their opponent to score with big play after big play. The Owls allowed UCF starting quarterback Dillon Gabriel to complete only seven of 19 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns. That was good enough for 35 yards per completion. 

The Owls also struggled against the run allowing 312 yards and five touchdowns against UCF. If the Owls are going to beat Ball State, the defense will need to stop their quarterback, Drew Plitt. He has thrown for 737 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions against Indiana and Fordham. FAU will need linebackers Akileis Leroy and Rashad Smith, to continue making big plays for the defense.

2. Rushing attack needs to improve 

FAU hasn’t had much success moving the ball on the ground this season. After relying heavily on the ground game last season, the Owls are averaging just two yards per carry and 79.5 yards per game. The offensive line needs to create rushing lanes for running backs Larry McCammon II, James Charles and Malcolm Davidson. 

Doing so will take some of the pressure off quarterback Chris Robison and allow for the run game to set up the play action pass. Ball State is allowing 126.5 rushing yards per game. Getting the running game going will be key if the Owls are going to have success the rest of the season.

3. Special teams must continue their strong play

The special teams unit for the Owls has greatly improved after last season. Kicker Vladimir Rivas struggled last season, going 10 of 17 on field goals with a long of 44 yards. 

So far this season, Rivas is 4 of 5 with a long of 48 yards. Punting has also been an area of improvement for the Owls. Punter Matt Hayball has averaged 43.5 yards per punt with a long of 70 yards. If the specialists continue their steady play, it will be a big boost after the struggles of last season.

Kickoff is set for Sept. 14th at 2 p.m. in Muncie, Indiana and will be broadcasted on the streaming service ESPN+.

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