FIU @ FAU Shula Bowl XIV Game Thread - October 31, 2015
The Matchup: FIU (4-4, 2-2 C-USA) vs. FAU (1-6, 1-3 C-USA)
When: Saturday, October 31st, 3:30 PM
Where: FAU Stadium
Weather: Current Conditions @ FAU Stadium
The Series: The Owls lead 9-3, and are 6-1 at Home.
FIU Team Site: Here
TV: American Sports Network - ASN
Live Video: None
Radio: ESPN 106.3
Island_Owl88 saidIf we win this game, I will forget about all our woes and be a happy man till next seasonPosted On: Oct 25th 2015, 5:39 PM
+1. This is our bowl game.
Island_Owl88 saidIf we win this game, I will forget about all our woes and be a happy man till next seasonPosted On: Oct 25th 2015, 5:39 PM
+1. This is our bowl game.Posted On: Oct 25th 2015, 7:01 PM
What it is, is a disaster that it has come to this being true.
FIU is playing to have 5 wins with 3 games to go and become bowl eligible.
We are playing in desperation to have anything of note this season.
I still would prefer Driskell. In my mind, Quez is done. Let's build for next year.
Parr we're holding onto, though if he came out and won this for us as his first college game that'd be a hell of an introduction. At the same time, that also requires that our coaches don't make dumb decisions which so far they've been incapable of doing.
I once thought FIU would discover Turner was a bad hire and he'd fail enough that they'd fire him and call it a learning experience, but now once again they've gone from bad to almost bowl eligible while we sink further in the mud. It's one thing if as rivals we're within a win or two of each other but it's an entirely different thing if the programs have entirely different trajectories.
owl2Doc saidI once thought FIU would discover Turner was a bad hire and he'd fail enough that they'd fire him and call it a learning experience, but now once again they've gone from bad to almost bowl eligiblePosted On: Oct 26th 2015, 2:40 AM
…and a very short time ago, many of our self-proclaimed football experts labeled FIU a dumpster fire, and would have called for Turner's ouster in his first season had he been our coach.
That being said, I don't know what our problem is with this team. I don't get paid to know, but some people associated with the program do get paid to know what the problem is, and they need to figure it out real soon. Time for the leadership to lead.
LawOwl said+1. This is our bowl game.
Island_Owl88 saidIf we win this game, I will forget about all our woes and be a happy man till next seasonPosted On: Oct 25th 2015, 5:39 PMPosted On: Oct 25th 2015, 7:01 PM
Not only that if we can beat FIU we will likely make their bowl chances drop dramatically.
Their 3 remaining games are against charlotte, Marshall and Western Kentucky. If we beat them, they are not likely to beat either Marshall or W. Kentucky and will only have 5 wins.
I’m going to start off, with four things, a couple of things on the UTEP game and give you a health status report on a couple of guys, talk about Florida International and give you an update on where our player are.
Key plays that we talked about quite a bit yesterday. Two red zone turnovers, a crossing route that ended up hitting us for a 76-yard for a touchdown and then a punt return player being hit by the ball which ended up leading to three points. That’s on me. I have to work to get that fixed. Credit UTEP for taking advantage of those opportunities. Another true freshman got significant playing time, Jacob Douglas – excited about his future and moving forward with him continuing to play more and more. I don’t see him in a starting role. We are happy with how Nate Ozdemir is playing at the Mike. I see Jacob continuing to contribute.
My choice to go for the kick on first down was something that was predetermined if field goal range was met. Every second at that point counted period. It was all about the clock. We worked it in practice earlier in the week, down by nine, 10 or 11 under three minutes. We had one timeout at the time. It was all about preserving time for the on-side kick and the ensuing drive. When I looking back on it should have done a better job of coaching the holder to eat the ball with a high snap. (We) hadn’t had problems with it but that is on me to get it coached better in that moment.
Byers Hickmon looks like he is doubtful for this weekend and is continuing to go through concussion protocol.
Quez Johnson comes out of the game probable.
Florida International is our full focus right now. Ron Turner, in his third year, you are seeing improvement as his roster is developed. Their punt returner (Richard Leonard) is No. 1 in Conference USA and Kick Returner No. 2. So that creates a challenge. Their scoring offense and defense are both third in the conference so we have challenges in all phases. Quarterback Alex McGough is performing very well with 17 touchdowns, three interceptions, very efficient with the ball. Alex Gardner is dangerous both as a runner and as a pass catcher out of the backfield. He has been productive both ways. Their tight end continues to impress. He was an all-conference selection preseason. Cornerback/punt returner Richard Leonard again I remember him from high school, a Miami Killian kid who is dynamic. (He) had another big return, didn’t get all the way into the end zone against Old Dominion, last week, but, is a force. D end Mike Wakefield continues to produce and a linebacker who I have been very impressed with Anthony Wint, at the outside backer. Our players remain focused, united, motivated that has not wavered and coaches and players believe in the direction we are head in.
You have talked about the guys coming in on Monday? Still focused?
Still coming in. Still fighting. The kids were very upset in the locker room after the game. Very disappointed. Nate Ozdemir stepped up and talked about how everybody, players and everybody needs to work to get better for each other and preform when they have a chance to preform. Like me. I need to do a better job of helping what most people use. It’s called a “peter” call. I’m referring to the punt and player who got hit. You see Cre’von (LeBlanc) on film pointing which means he is also yelling “peter”. We have to do a better job and that falls on me to get that echoed so that Tony Thomas isn’t in position where he is blocking that guy and gets hit by a ball. We knew their punter was erratic part of being rugby style which is often that way. I have to coach that better. I have no regrets in terms of strategy in regards to the choice to go for the field goal because it was again under three minutes. It was all about the clock period. I wish I had done a better job of coaching the holder to eat it when the snap was up here (above the shoulder) so that Greg (Joseph) got a better look at the ball and another shot. It is a collective effort to continue to get better as a football team.
Does it make it tougher that you guys are right there? You are so close in these games.
Emotionally, it does. But when you step back and take your emotions out of it, in a lot of ways it is encouraging. Because we are so close every week, three or four plays but, that is where we have to get three or four plays better to get to where we want to be.
The choice for the field goal, what that analytics driven?
No. Analytics plays into a lot of our studying of end of games scenarios so it is all about studying end of game scenarios and factoring how much time you have. You saw it happen yesterday in the Jets game. They had a little less time. They tried for a field goal, on what I believe was first down as they were working to get back into the New England game. This isn’t a new philosophy. Again, it is all about the clock…You are in field goal range. You are down a touchdown and a field goal so you kick the field goal and at that point you are down seven. If we execute the field goal, execute the on-sides, again we only had one timeout, then you have the opportunity to hopefully get a touchdown or touchdown and two-point to go for the win. You finish that choice and you are where you want to be. Again, what you don’t want to have happen is you run out of time fighting for those 19-yard touchdowns then you are not in position where you can get into field goal range because you have to throw a “Hail Mary” again it is all about the clock…three minutes and inside of field goal range is where we start to consider do we kick it on first down to preserve clock for the second drive…the statistics on an on-side kick depending on what level you are looking at are roughly 30%. You kick the field goal and if you don’t beat the odds and don’t get the on-side kick hopefully you have time to get a defensive stop and still get a possession. So, again it is all about the clock…if you don’t give yourself the opportunity you don’t have either shot. You increase the odds and different scenarios that you can have a drive and score…we had momentum there no question. Going into that drive we talked about having field goal ready and if we get into field goal range there is a good chance that we are going to go for a field goal. The good news is we had practiced that exact scenario. The only difference was in practice we were down nine on Wednesday. To Quez Johnson’s credit, he came right up to me and said ‘Coach are we running the drill?’ I said absolutely, if we are in field goal range be ready for an early down field goal.
How did you feel about Quez as a runner?
He showed some good things. He was better than he was the week before so certainly I’m encouraged by that improvement. He is as heartbroken as everyone attached to the program with the fumble going into the end zone. But, his running capability is coming back as his health improves.
How does that effect the offense?
It definitely gives you that element of quarterback designed runs which is really challenging for defenses to stop because you have to commit guy. You have 10 blockers instead of nine. You only have nine when he is handing the ball of and you try and pull him with a traditional offense hand-off boot out. A shot gun offense is off zone read looks. So, it does. It definitely adds to the offense when you have that threat.
What went into the decision to put Driskel into the game instead of Parr?
Where we were in the game, late in the game at that point we had both quarterbacks getting ready for potential time. We didn’t know if (Jaquez) Quez (Johnson) was going to comeback. Whether it was going to be a one play or three plays or the rest of the game so it was a combination of all those factors.
Has Quez stayed positive? How is he handling it?
He has. He is one of our more positive approach guys. He does a great job. The game he was out he was disappointed and in the Marshall game and was really uplifting and has stayed as positive as I think he possibly can given the scenario he is dealing with. He was disappointed last night and two nights ago when we had two red zone turnovers. I give him all the credit because he wants to shoulder the blame when really I should be shouldering the blame. He worries about the next play. Again, you look at four passes in a row in that scenario at the end of the day and you could tell his spirits were up. He is as disappointed as all of us in the final result. But, like you said it is hard when you are so close. When it is right there within grasp. You can feel that you are close to turning some corners on some things. That makes it emotionally challenging but I give him credit he has done a nice job as an emotional leader of this football team. It is a big part of what gives you the faith to continue to give him the opportunity even though he is not 100% healthy.
Why do you think you guys have struggled so much in the fourth quarter?
My mind goes to individual plays. That something that is not an issue of conditioning. It is a part of the process of turning the corner. That you execute all the time. That you keep fighting to keep executing the entire game. Last year you asked me questions about the first quarter. At the end of the day, it is putting together a complete game. That is what we are striving to do. Put together four quarters of football to where we are not in that scenario.
Do you get the feeling that the players feel oh no here we go again?
I would feel that way if we didn’t see our kids continuing to fight the entire game. The kids have really worked to stay focused the entire game and we have gotten better at that. We are not where we want to be yet but, there was a moment there where we were down by seven and there was nine minutes left in the game. I can’t remember if it was an injury that created a media timeout but I had an opportunity to talk to the defense and they got themselves in a very good place. They were looking at the scoreboard and were evaluating the time. They snapped each other to the point where all guys all that matters is the next play. We need to great on this very next play. To their credit, there was a lot of self talk among each other. They are working hard to do what we want. We are not where we want to be yet but, I’m proud of how they work into an approach and get it better.
Are all the defensive linemen healthy?
Yes, because we had a couple of them nicked.
Trey Rodriguez – Could you see him being in the starting line-up? Has he solidified himself?
He has solidified himself as someone who can really be a dynamic player. Whether he takes the first snap or not kind of depends on what plays we run, but again he has shown his effectiveness as a guy that can run up inside. His two big runs were inside zone. At the end of the day he is dynamic, I’m proud of another play, a three-yard play, which was setup by (Dalton) Schomp’s big bomb, the 76-yarder that the kid (punt returner) had trouble handling. I think most punt returners would. It was a tough punt. It was challenging Saturday night. That three-yard run – Buddy’s foot drive and the O line getting movement, which we talked about a little bit last week, and getting dense in front of the defense. That was a nice run. Obviously it was first and three and set up. The kids knew what personnel was going to come out. We put Buddy in the back field. He is driving with his feet. The O line are driving with their feet. That’s something we have to build on, that play alone. To answer your question, a little bit of it depends on game plan and what our first play call is.
I know there were only something like 20 plays in the second half but Rodriguez only got the ball one time in the second half. Is that something you guys sat down and afterwards and said we have to involve him more?
Again, there examples of – part of it was a seven minute drive by UTEP. We did end up holding them to a field goal but like you said we didn’t get a big number of plays in the second half and that was it as much as anything. It was a conscious effort to hold Trey back or not. I understand what you are saying. I do but, we didn’t see that as a key to not being successful on Saturday night.