FAU Football: Owls take on North Texas as conference play resumes

FAU last met North Texas in a 41-38 loss in 2018.


Branden Connelley

University Press stock photo of redshirt sophomore safety Dwight Toombs II.

Trey Avant, Staff Writer

The Florida Atlantic University Owls (2-3, 1-0 C-USA) will take on the University of North Texas Mean Green (2-3, 1-0 C-USA) in Denton, Texas, on Saturday, Oct. 1. FAU looks to bounce back after dropping the first of their two-game road trip last week against Purdue. 

FAU is currently 0-2 in road games this season with losses to Ohio and Purdue. As the team resumes conference play, the hope is that the familiarity with their opponents eases the team’s road woes going forward.

“We just have to go win the game,” head coach Willie Taggart said. “It’s football, no matter if it’s here in Boca or on the road, it’s a 100-yard field with hash marks and numbers and a goal-post. That’s all it comes down to. There’s no secret or anything like that, we just have to go and play winning football.”

High-scoring offenses and lackluster defenses characterize both teams.

Sophomore running backs Oscar Adaway III and Ayo Adeyi lead the way for North Texas, combining for 704 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns on 123 carries this season. 

“[Adaway and Adeyi] are big backs that can run. They’re going to commit to the run offensively… They don’t have to change up what they do because of the back that’s in the game, they continue to run their offense,” Taggart said. “You see who and what their identity is as a football team, and they’re going to try to run the football. We have to do a great job of trying to stop the run in this ball game.”

Through five games, FAU has given up 147.8 rushing yards per game. On the other hand, North Texas is averaging 196.8 rushing yards per game, which is good for 30th in the nation.

Not to be outdone, FAU has a very potent run game. The team ranks 21st in rushing offense in the nation, as junior running back Larry McCammon III has been a pivotal part of that success. 

This season, McCammon III has 439 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns on a staggering 6.3 yards per carry. Freshman running back Zuberi Mobley has also played a key role on the ground with 292 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns on 5.3 yards per carry.

The dual-threat ability of quarterback N’Kosi Perry and the return of junior running back Johnny Ford also figures to bolster an already dangerous run game. 

Both teams are not very good at stopping the pass. FAU is ranked 95th in passing yards given up at 253.8 passing yards per game, while North Texas is ranked 99th at 262.0 passing yards per game.

Junior quarterback Austin Aune presents a secondary threat for FAU. Aune has thrown for 1,316 passing yards and 12 passing touchdowns. His six interceptions through five games shows that he can be rattled into making mistakes so look for FAU to focus on generating as much pressure as possible on Aune.

Meanwhile, Perry has done a nice job orchestrating FAU’s offense this season. He has thrown for 1,217 passing yards, 13 passing touchdowns and three interceptions. Perry’s problem is that he lacks consistency. If he is able to string together several good performances, it can go a long way.

While North Texas does have a poor defense, currently 123rd in total defense, they need to use linebackers KD Davis and Larry Nixon III to stop the run and force Perry to beat them, which Perry has not shown he can do consistently. 

Fortunately for FAU, sophomore wide receiver LaJohntay Wester has proven to be one of Perry’s favorite targets. This season, Wester has 29 catches for 329 receiving yards and is currently tied for first in the nation with seven receiving touchdowns.

FAU’s offensive line has been very solid so far, only giving up three sacks this season. Perry can likely sit back in the pocket comfortably and pick apart the Mean Green’s defense. McCammon and company might have some issues generating big chunk plays due to North Texas’ roving linebackers but if the offensive line can keep the pocket clean, FAU has a good chance to come back to Boca Raton with a win.

The game will be broadcast on Saturday, Oct. 1, at 4 p.m. on ESPN+.

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