FAU Football: Owls seek crucial road win at Ohio

This marks FAU’s first matchup against Ohio in program history.


Nicholas Windfelder

Quarterback N’Kosi Perry (#7) celebrates with wide receiver Je’Quan Burton (#8), who scored the touchdown against Charlotte on Aug. 27, 2022.

Maddox Greenberg, Staff Writer

Ahead of Saturday night’s showdown against the Ohio University Bobcats, football head coach Willie Taggart talked with the media about the team’s plan prior to FAU’s first road game of the season. 

One big headline heading into the game taking place this Saturday at 6 p.m. at Peden Stadium is FAU’s struggles on the road the past two seasons. Overall, under Taggart, FAU has been 2-8 on the road and just 8-2 at home. 

“In the past, that’s what we’ve done on the road,” said Taggart. “Go out and turn the ball over or have selfish penalties and those things you can’t–it happened, you know. A lot of those things give the opposing team a lot of momentum. It got their fans into the game and that just takes a lot out of you when you are on the road.”

According to Taggart, the solution to this problem is overcoming adversity, knowing how to respond when a mistake occurs in the game, and sticking to the plan set out.

In Taggart’s 11 losses at FAU, opponents outscored FAU 264-111, with the Owls averaging about 14 points while opponents averaged 33 points. This, however, will be the Owls’ first matchup against the Bobcats.

Ohio has a new defensive coordinator in Spencer Nowinsky from last year following the retirement of Ron Collins. Ohio will also be without some of their star offensive weapons including Armani Rogers, who officially made the 53-man roster for the NFL’s Washington Commanders. 

FAU did, though, have some downsides to its dominant 43-13 victory over the Charlotte 49ers. The team was without its star running back Johnny Ford, who averaged six yards per rush in the 11 games he started last season. He scored five touchdowns and gained 861 yards on 131 attempts. 

Taggart provided some optimism on the statuses of running back Johnny Ford, outside linebacker Chris Jones, and defensive lineman Decarius Hawthorne. “I expect for them to play this week,” he said.

Even with a 30-point margin of victory, Taggart said he wasn’t impressed with the victory. 

“We threw the ball down the field quite a bit and then executed as much as we’d like to,  so we got to be consistent with our execution when throwing the ball down the field,” Taggart said.

Despite the fact that there were some downsides to last Saturday’s win, Taggart praised kicker Morgan Suarez, who went 3-for-3 on field goals and 4-for-4 on extra points, something that hasn’t been seen from a kicker at FAU in a while.

“We all believe in what Morgan was capable of doing. One thing I love about the kid is he never gets rattled…He’s a mentally tough individual and you gotta be when playing a kicker,” Taggart said. “As much as I try to make it a competition in practice, he was harmonious, he was someone else out there. He was ready to get back in [like], ‘Coach I need another kick.’”

Another upside for FAU was the run game. Running backs Larry McCammon III, who had 14 carries for 118 yards and a touchdown, and Zuberi Mobley, who had 11 carries for 22 yards and a touchdown, both took over during Ford’s absence.

One key motivation for Taggart and the Owls was the “massive” student section  in the home opener. 

“You know, we want to pack the stadium. It starts with the students, you know, and that environment and that energy they brought in that stadium is what brings everybody else back,” Taggart said. “I think it played a big factor in our football team and the way they played and hearing them cheer and being excited for us.”

Maddox Greenberg is a staff writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or DM via Facebook @maddox greenberg