Coming out of non-conference play with a 1-3 record after a tough 23-17 loss at Illinois, the Florida Atlantic football team will have a full week of rest before resuming their season with an encounter against Tulsa on October 7th for their first matchup in conference play.
Head coach Tom Herman (pictured) met with media on Monday to go over the current condition of the team and their ideas for the bye week.
Below are some of the highlights from the session.
Opening reflection on how the team performed against Illinois
"These are the moments as coaches where you struggle because you know how close you were. Had we just done a few things differently and/or better, we would have won that game and we didn't; we lost that game. We didn't get beat by Illinois. I felt like Clemson beat us and this game was different. Felt like we beat ourselves and that's frustrating. However, knowing the two-week stretch that we just went through to even be in that game considering the physical toll that comes in not just the game but the trip, getting back at 5:30 in the morning, all that stuff."
"That takes its toll on young men and for them to play as hard and as well as they did, for the most part of the game, is not to be ignored. And so I think the theme today in our first team meeting was we're closer than we have been at any point in our time here, and we're not gonna let up at this point. We've got to press harder now even. Knowing how close we were, we've got to be able to train ourselves how to finish games like that. But I do believe and I'm confident if we continue on the trajectory that we're on considering the product that we put on the field against Ohio, we're gonna have quite a bit of success in conference play."
Coming out of the Illinois game with no injuries
"It was a hard-fought game. I mean, that's a very physical, well-coached team. Got a ton of respect for Coach Bielema. That was one of, if not the best, defenses in the country last year, and certainly they had the players to show for it, but their scheme is certainly very unique and difficult to prepare for too. So definitely happy that we came out fairly unscathed, especially knowing that we've got an opportunity here to heal up a little bit too this week."
Timetable update on Armani Eli-Adams
"He had surgery. I mean, if Armani comes back, it would be for the bowl game. Maybe the conference championship. I think that might be even wishful thinking."
Improving the run game
"I certainly think level of competition is right, wrong, or indifferent. It's going to certainly be a factor. I think matchup-wise, it was very difficult for our guys the last two weeks on that side of the ball, especially just from a matchup standpoint, certainly with Clemson across the board, not just offensive line, but even against Illinois. They've got some really good players up front, including a potential first rounder, as well as their scheme. It eliminates a lot of double teams and makes it very difficult to scheme up runs without having to have guys on single blocks on most plays in the run game, so definitely not ready to panic by any stretch in that phase. I think the fourth quarter, when the box softened a little bit because of the necessity to kind of push the field a little bit, we did have some some big hit and runs. But I thought for the scheme, that kind of that defensive front forces you to to do in the run game, we did about as good as you can. I mean, there's a reason they play all that man coverage and that's so they can load the box and get an extra hat in the run game."
On Players who have stood out so far
"I think it would be foolish to omit Zeke Moore. He's a guy that, quite frankly, is really the only true true freshman right now and rightfully so. I mean, that's no knock on our freshman class. That's probably the way of the world at this level a little bit, especially being able to plug some immediate holes with some transfers while you develop some of the young guys, but I think Zeke Moore is certainly one that stands out to me. And defensively, I think we're gonna continue to like the rotation of Desmond Tisdol and Jaylen Wester. Those are two guys that have had really good weeks of practice and shown some flashes in the Illinois game that I think if we could get their level of consistency, a little bit higher, then those are two guys that should make an impact for us as well."
Optimism on the team's competitive spirit despite the 1-3 start
"It may sound silly, but I feel really confident. I mean, we are a different team than we were even two weeks ago. If we stay the course and if we make the same amount of strides that we made in the past two weeks, if we make those in the next two weeks, the sky's the limit for this team. But we have to do it. The worst thing in the world for someone to say is he's got potential, [because] that just means you haven't done it yet. We do have potential, we're growing, we're getting better. But it's got to happen now. But there is a lot of reason, tangible visible reason for optimism for sure."
How the team is approaching the bye week
"We got to get healthy as much as we can. So we've got to be extremely cognizant of the fact that we've been going for eight straight weeks if you include training camp with the last two being some real bangers. But we also have to understand we're not anywhere close to being where we want to be. There's a lot of teams at this level that would be celebrating a six-point defeat on the road against the Power Five team. We're not. We know that we had one and had we been at a different stage in our development, that's one that there's there's certainly argument to make that we would have won. So we've got to get to that stage in our development very quickly. But I do think that we're on the right track. So we've got to work in order to maintain that level of improvement, but also really be cognizant that we've got another eight-week stretch. Also last thing, we're going to be better off for having played these last two games and that's taking nothing away from the people we're going to play week in and week out in our conference. But I also know that having back-to-back games against that level of speed, strength, size. I mean, there's a reason baseball players put donuts on their bat, right? And that's to make it heavier on the practice swings to make it, when you're at the plate, feel lighter. And we're about to step up to the plate here in two weeks and I'm glad we had our donut on for the last couple."
The Owls will be stepping onto the Schmidt Complex practice field on Tuesday morning with offensive coordinator Charlie Frye and requested offensive players being available for interviews.