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Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Editor-to-Editor: The Golden Hurricane swarms into Boca

University of Tulsa’s The Collegian sports editor and the University Press sports editor discuss FAU’s first conference game in the American Athletic Conference
Brett Rojo
TU’s Redshirt Senior, Anthony Watkins (#23), rushing a 9-yard gain against Temple for first-down during the Golden Hurricane’s 48-26 win against Temple University on Sept. 28, 2023.

On Wednesday, the University Press sports editor sat down with the University of Tulsa’s The Collegian Sports Editor Jaralynn Morellano, to discuss FAU football’s first conference game in the American Athletic Conference.

FAU is returning from a 23-17 loss to the University of Illinois on Sept. 23. After their week of rest, the Owls look to get back on track as head coach Tom Herman returns to coaching in The American.

Who should the Owls defense be looking out for on Tulsa’s offense?

Number one, our quarterback–Cardell Williams–should definitely be someone to focus on. His completed passes range from 14 to 80 yards. He’s currently 18th in the NCAA with a passing efficiency of 169.5. Lately, he’s been getting a lot more comfortable with Tulsa’s offensive plays and has just been named AAC Offensive Player of the Week. He trusts the plays and he knows where his offense is. He doesn’t hesitate, and when he sees an opening, he uses it. You would really have to take into consideration the people he connects with on the field. So you have Marquis Shoulders of our receiving core; he’s currently the leader with five touchdowns and 283 yards, and you have our leading running back, Anthony Watkins, with 320 yards and two touchdowns. So, if FAU wants to slow down Tulsa’s offense, you really have to block Williams from getting those key connections on the field.

Tulsa is 28th in the nation in third down conversion and tied-28th in fourth down conversion. How impactful would that be in Saturday’s game?

Of course, our team strives to get conversions sooner, but I think our offensive capabilities really show in our third- and fourth-down conversion rates. We may not get as many first- and second-down conversions, but the fact that we continue to look for opportunities to continue the scoring drive, and successfully do so, would definitely help us in our confidence to continue our offensive play for the touchdown opportunities this Saturday. 

Against Oklahoma and Washington, Tulsa gave up a total of 110 points on defense. The last two weeks, Tulsa gave up 40 total points. What changes have you seen in the last two weeks compared to Washington and Oklahoma?

Since then, I think our defensive strategy has definitely become more developed. Our defensive line is getting better at holding our opponents within those crucial ten yards for a turnover. They’re being more physical, more tighter. They’re getting faster to meeting those players who do actually connect with the pass. 

During our Washington and Oklahoma games, our opponents were able to get a lot of first- and second-down conversions, while the last two weeks, our opponents were more inclined to a third- and fourth-down conversion or they were forced to turnover the ball. Our defensive play has definitely been maturing as the season’s been going on, and it really shows because in the last two weeks, I felt like there’s been an increased chance of fumbles and interceptions in our team.

What is Tulsa’s biggest weakness and strength?

So right now, I would say our biggest strength is the pretty even distributions of scoring and rushing yards amongst our offensive line. It shows that we have multiple people on the team that can get the job done. So teams really have to focus on covering a wide range when playing defense on us. We also have a good consistency of making field goals, so when a touchdown is scored, there’s a good chance that we’re going to get those extra points in.

So, at the beginning of the season, I would’ve said some of the decision-making is spotty because as you can see during the [University of Oklahoma] game, when we threw three intercepted passes in the first quarter, but based off of the games following that, you can already see a progression in offensive plays. So, right now I would say our biggest weakness is being able to get a score early on and being able to hold that lead. Out of the three wins we have right now, we weren’t the first scorers, or when we did, it was only from field goals and we had a hard time keeping that lead, so we always find ourselves kind of trailing until we actually get ahead again and hold that lead at the end.

Where would the game lie down to?

I feel like it’s hard to say. It’s going to be a good game. You look at our history, we’ve met twice before and there’s a win to both of our teams, and we’ve both had some formidable returners and newcomers. We also both have new coaches. I feel like it’s not really the same team and we just have to see how it plays out on Saturday.

What do you think the outcome of the game would be?

I just think it’s going to be a hard game to play, you know. Like I said, I don’t think it’s the same team. I think both coaches kind of have their own program that they’ve been implementing and we just have to see who wants it more, who’s going to put up that fight on the field.

The FAU football team (1-3, 0-0 AAC) returns home to face the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (3-2, 1-0 AAC) this Saturday at 6 p.m. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.

Maddox Greenberg is the Sports Editor for the University Press. Email [email protected] or DM via Twitter @MaddoxGreenberg and Instagram @maddoxblade04 for information regarding this or other stories.

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About the Contributor
Maddox Greenberg, Sports Editor
Maddox started writing sports for the UP in Summer 2022 with the intention of improving his journalistic writing. He is a sophomore majoring in multimedia journalism and plans on becoming a sports broadcaster. He is a broadcaster for FAU Owl Radio.

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