espn insider on the game.
espn insider on the game.
By Scouts, Inc
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Florida Atlantic at Memphis Matchups
QB RB WR OL DL LB DB ST Coach Overall
Memphis Offense vs. Florida Atlantic Defense
The Tigers' offense has put up some of the best numbers in school history this season thanks in part to the arm of QB Martin Hankins. Hankins leads an aerial attack that ranks 13th in the nation for passing yards and has been efficient throwing 22 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions. Hankins has had a pair of receivers in Duke Calhoun and Carlos Singleton. Calhoun has turned into the team's go-to receiver this year while Singleton stands 6-foot-8 and has been a dangerous red zone threat with a team-leading 10 touchdown receptions. Hankins and Co. will be challenged this week by an outstanding secondary with experience and speed. Tavious Polo, Corey Small and Taheem Acevedo combined for 17 interceptions this year.
The Owls' defense has had a knack for creating turnovers this season and they possess the No. 1 ranking in turnover margin at +19. It will be crucial that the Tigers take care of the ball and establish a ground-game threat. The Tigers will rely on RB Joseph Doss to handle most of carries, but it will be tough sledding for Doss as the Owls' run defense has been stingy. Look for a group of talented LBs in Frantz Joseph and Cergile Sincere to keep Doss corralled, making the Tigers' offense one dimensional allowing the Owls to pin their ears back and try and get after Hankins. This will be easier said than done as the Memphis offensive line has been stout in pass protection, allowing just 13 sacks all year.
FAU vs. Memphis
When: Dec. 21, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Where: New Orleans
Preview: FAU looks for win in first bowl berth
Florida Atlantic Offense vs. Memphis Defense
The Owls have had a very potent offense this year thanks to the emergence of sophomore QB Rusty Smith and an improved ground game anchored by an experienced offensive line. RB Charles Pierre is a strong runner with adequate size (210 pounds) and is averaging 4.6 yards per carry. This does not bode well for a Tigers defense that ranks in bottom 20 against the run this year. ILB Jake Kasser is the leader of this Memphis defense and is the lone remaining LB from the original three starters at the beginning of the year. The other two have been lost to injuries during the year, bringing youth and inexperience to this unit. This will put added pressure on the Tigers' defensive line to be stout up front. Also look for DS Brandon Patterson to continue to come up and help out in run support as he has 71 tackles this season.
As if there isn't enough to worry about with the running attack, the Tigers will have their hands full with Smith, who has put up outstanding numbers this season. Smith has thrown for 3,352 yards with 27 touchdowns compared to just seven interceptions and has done a great job of managing the game. Smith will be throwing to a receiving corps that has plenty of speed, led by WR Cortez Gent who has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark receiving this year, along with nine touchdowns. Smith will also look for his TE Jason Harmon, who has been productive in the pass game as well. Look for big plays out of Smith and Co., especially if the Tigers have to drop Patterson near the box to help out in run support, leaving corners Lakeitharun Ford and LeRico Mathis on islands against an explosive receiving corps.
Key individual matchup
Memphis WR Carlos Singleton vs. Florida Atlantic CB Tavious Polo
Polo possesses short area quickness and with his team-leading seven interceptions has shown solid ball skills. Polo will be tested though, as he stands just 5-foot-10, 160 pounds and gives up a substantial size advantage to the 6-foot-8, 215-pound Singleton. Polo should have no problem sticking with Singleton out of his breaks, but could have trouble in the red zone, where Singleton excels going up and high-pointing the fade. Look for the Owls to counter, helping out Polo with safety help over the top in the red zone. This could open up holes for the Tigers' ground game near the end zone. Polo will have to do a solid job of getting a jam on Singleton, not allowing him a clean release and disrupting the timing between him and Hankins. If Polo fails to get a good jam it could allow Singleton to add to his 10-touchdown total.
Memphis PK Matt Reagan has hit on just 15 of 22 attempts this year and has yet to show he can hit from long range as he has missed all three attempts from 40 yards and beyond. Reagan will also handle the kickoffs and has not shown a big leg in that department either recording just one touchback in 48 kicks. Owls KR DiIvory Edgecomb is averaging just 22.8 yards per return and will have to work hard for his yards this week as the Tigers' coverage has been up to par this year. The Tigers' punt unit has struggled this year as a whole, ranking 118th statistically, but fortunately for them they will be facing a very mediocre Owls return unit.
Owls' PK Warley Leroy has struggled with his accuracy hitting on just 18 of 26 attempts, but has shown solid range with a long of 46 yards. Leroy will also handle the kickoff duties; he has been very average, recording just three touchbacks in 37 attempts. Owls' P Keegan Peterson is averaging 40.5 yards per punt, but has struggled with his accuracy, placing just six of 39 punts inside the 20.
There is concern for the Owls, as both of their coverage units have struggled. They have allowed a combined three touchdowns this year and rank near the bottom statistically in both categories. Tigers return men Earnest Williams and Michael Grandberry have been productive with their returns and will look to break a big play against the mediocre coverage of the Owls.
This will be one of the more exciting games to watch all bowl season as both teams possess explosive offenses that have the ability to put up a lot of points. Expect a back-and-forth, high scoring battle with very little defense. In the end, though, the Owls' defense will be able to create enough turnovers to make the difference and come up with a close, hard-fought victory.
Prediction: Owls 48, Tigers 42