Preview: FAU to take on No. 18 UCF in home opener

The Owls look to bounce back from their loss against Ohio State with a home game against UCF.

Junior+linebacker+Akileis+Leroy+was+dominant+on+defense+last+Saturday+as+he+totaled+six+tackles%2C+one+for+a+loss+and+recorded+a+sack.+Photo+courtesy+of+FAU+Athletics.+
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Preview: FAU to take on No. 18 UCF in home opener

Junior linebacker Akileis Leroy was dominant on defense last Saturday as he totaled six tackles, one for a loss and recorded a sack. Photo courtesy of FAU Athletics.

Junior linebacker Akileis Leroy was dominant on defense last Saturday as he totaled six tackles, one for a loss and recorded a sack. Photo courtesy of FAU Athletics.

Junior linebacker Akileis Leroy was dominant on defense last Saturday as he totaled six tackles, one for a loss and recorded a sack. Photo courtesy of FAU Athletics.

Junior linebacker Akileis Leroy was dominant on defense last Saturday as he totaled six tackles, one for a loss and recorded a sack. Photo courtesy of FAU Athletics.

Trey Avant, Contributing Writer

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Fifth-ranked Ohio State defeated FAU in week one, but now they look to redeem themselves in their home opener against No. 18 UCF. The two teams play this Saturday at 7 p.m.

The Owls surrendered a 28-0 lead to Ohio State in just eight minutes, but FAU stormed back in the second half and outscored the Buckeyes 21-7. FAU gave up 469 yards to the Buckeyes while putting up just 228 yards of their own. 

The Knights produced a lopsided win against FAMU last Thursday. The Knights put up 694 yards of offense while holding the Rattlers to just 96 total yards and only four rushing yards.

The Owls will open the game as the +10.5 underdog, but this game has serious upset potential. Last year, UCF defeated FAU on the road, but things are different now. The Owls are at home and were 4-2 last season when playing in Boca Raton.

Last week, the Knights debuted new QB Brandon Wimbush and he threw for 168 yards and two touchdowns. While Wimbush did play well, he played an less-skilled opponent in FAMU. While they were overmatched against Ohio State, FAU played admirably and held them to a mere 17 points in the final three quarters. 

Wimbush was slightly inaccurate as he only completed 12 of his 23 passes during the Ohio State matchup. That is something that the FAU defense will surely want to test this weekend.

FAU’s own passing game was stifled by Ohio State’s defense last week, but that was mainly due to the poor showing from the offensive line. Quarterback Chris Robison showed that he can make throws against a Buckeyes defense that presents a multitude of NFL draft prospects — and UCF doesn’t possess that same reputation. So look for him to exploit any lapses in UCF’s defense. 

The Owls backfield has taken a hit this week as starting RB BJ Emmons broke his ankle. Now, head coach Lane Kiffin must turn to junior RB James Charles and freshman Larry McCammon to lead the backfield, who showed flashes last week.

The Knights defensive line is a bit questionable this season as senior Brendon Hayes is the only returnee with any notable experience, so look for the ground game to perform better this week now that they don’t have a significant speed disadvantage.

FAU’s defensive line on the other hand has their work cut out for them as UCF fields one of the most explosive rushing attacks in the nation. Running backs Greg McCrae, Adrian Killins Jr. and Otis Anderson, each brings a different skill set that could prove problematic for the Owls.

Junior linebacker Akileis Leroy and senior safety Da’Von Brown, were the catalyst for a late Owls comeback attempt last week. They helped the defense force two turnovers versus Ohio State, so look for them to be incredibly active once again against UCF.

For the Owls to win this game, they need to start faster than UCF. The Knights will start fast, so FAU needs to try to outscore them early. FAU went down 28-0 against Ohio State quick last week, and they cannot let that happen again.

Finally, FAU has to apply all the pressure on UCF. Brandon Wimbush is still learning the offense and made some bad throws last week, so look for him to be tested early.

FAU can win this game. They’ll be at home against a QB who struggles with accuracy and will be starting against a consistently tough home team, so look for this game to be closer than many expect.

Trey Avant is a contributing writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @TreyAvant3.