Losing 24-8 in their home finale against nationally-ranked Tulane, the Florida Atlantic football team will head to Texas as they get ready to play their last game of the regular season against the Rice Owls on November 25th.
Head coach Tom Herman spoke with media on Monday to evaluate the current state of the team and their preparations against Rice.
Below are some of the highlights from the session.
Opening statement on how the team performed against Tulane
"Not a whole lot changed that I didn't say Saturday. I mean that's a really good football team in Tulane with a lot of consistency there. When you have a head coach and a quarterback that have been around for as long as those guys have, it matters and they've done a really good job of building that program to what it is right now. And for us to win those kinds of games, the margin for error is very slim. And we've got to execute at an extremely high level for an extremely long time."
"Unfortunately offensively, we knew running the ball was going to be difficult as it was for Ole Miss, who was a top five team in the country, they didn't even crack 100 yards rushing. So really good run defense against anybody in the country, let alone a team that's struggling to run the football. So when you become one-dimensional with the pieces that we have, that is not a real good recipe and you saw when we get into rhythm that the drive we had in the second quarter and a couple of drives there in the second half, I think the game certainly felt different than East Carolina. I think our guys fought, I think our guys gave an extreme amount of effort, and it mattered. We just couldn't execute at the consistent level that we needed to beat a team like that."
How beneficial hosting nationally-ranked teams is for the players
"It's really gonna pay dividends in the future, for sure. Like I said early in the year, a third of our schedule was teams that either won their conference or played for their conference championship last year. And I believe we finished 0-4 against those teams. So we have had some really good lessons on what it takes. I think our culture is getting there, certainly a work in progress and in need of improvement in some areas, but I think also you see the level of talent too, and we've got to go recruit our tails off."
"The reshaping of this roster has been challenging and is not a one-year fix. So this is an ever-growing process to get us to that point, much like it was for both coach Fritz and coach Traylor when they took over. So we understand that this week against Rice is really important towards the development heading into the offseason, but we also know that we need to infuse quite a bit of talent into our program as well."
"Obviously Larry McCammon III got banged up again but came back in. I would imagine his status will be similar to what it's been the last few weeks. Michal Antoine dislocated his shoulder but returned, so he'll be limited throughout the week in practice, but we think based on the position that he plays and being able to put a harness on that that, he should be good as you can be having dislocated your shoulder seven days prior. But other than that, I think we should be good."
On the Mississippi State Coaching Vacancy
When questioned about the coaching vacancy at Mississippi State's football program and whether the program has been in direct or indirect contact with him Herman was very succinct in his response. "No, no", said Herman.
Preparations for Rice
"What I told them in the locker room from the heart after the game. I didn't change that sentiment a whole lot. I think it's been 16 years since I've been a part of a team that had to play their last game already knowing that bowl eligibility was off the table. So it's been a while for me and so, but the one thing I do know is we all have a job to do and you're gonna find out a lot about these young men. Three things, especially how much they love football, how much they love to compete, any opportunity to compete is a good one. You challenge me to a game of horse, I'm in, let's go, I want to go compete. And then maybe most importantly, how much do you care about the rest of the team? So raining on their parade and all of that is inconsequential."
"It's about developing, continuing to develop. It's about making sure that these guys that are seniors that aren't going to play again for FAU; for most of them, this will be the last time they put a set of shoulder pads and helmet on. And the taste that we leave in their mouths after this game is going to be one that lingers for a while and and it will for the ones that are returning throughout our offseason. So this is a big one for a lot of reasons and most importantly because it's the next one on the schedule and we've got to go compete our tails off and hopefully find a way to go into the offseason with a good taste in our mouth."
What he wants the seniors to remember in their last career game as an Owl
"They helped set a foundation that we had a lot of work to do and unfortunately we didn't get it done in time enough for them to enjoy it. But when we win a conference title, they'll be sure to get rings themselves because being a part of this. This first season has been difficult but necessary for the health and growth of this program. Unfortunately, it came at some really bad timing for some of these guys but they had a very meaningful impact. I know that sounds very Pollyanna-ish, but when you see the steps that we have taken and will continue to take, they are a direct result of the blood, sweat, and tears that the senior class has put in."
The Owls will be make their way to the Schmidt Complex practice field on Tuesday morning to create their plans against Rice.