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FAU-UNT Notebook

Bowled Over

Coming into the season there was an excitement level the FAU football program hadn't seen since being tabbed to win the Sun Belt Conference in the 2008 preseason conference poll. After closing last season on a four game winning streak to finish 6-6 and the hiring of recruiting guru Charlie Partridge, momentum was building towards this year to be a breakthrough season for the Owls. After 10 games, all the good will and excitement around the FAU football program has evaporated. In a surprising turn of events, the team has regressed over the course of the season. Last night North Texas held FAU to under 200 total yards of offense. The only other time that has happened this year was week two against Alabama.

One of the few drawbacks in hiring Partridge was that he had never been head coach at any level before, that his lack of experience as being the head guy and building a coaching staff would come back to bite him. After last night’s loss, his detractors are having a field day. With hopes of a bowl game done, Partridge and his staff will have to motivate the players to not quit on the season, to play with pride and send the outgoing seniors on a good note. “We just have to keep fighting, keep getting better, keep recruiting, keep developing, and keep working to build a program,” said Partridge during his postgame interview with ESPN WestPalm. Bowl ramifications may be over but other ramifications remain. Recruiting season is about to begin in full earnest and opposing programs would love nothing more to pick apart FAU’s stellar 2015 class by pointing out how they closed the season on a five game losing streak.

Defense Comes Through In Second Half

Although the point total say FAU allowed 31 points to North Texas, don't let the scoreboard deceive you. After a first half in which the Owls allowed North Texas to gain 243 total yards of offense, the second half was a drastic turnaround. Defensive coordinator Roc Bellantoni engineered an aggressive defensive effort and the adjustments made at halftime worked. North Texas gained just 99 yards the rest of the way. Like the rest of the team, the defense has struggled to play well in the first half but after halftime looks like a completely different unit. FAU is holding opponents to an average of 13 points in the second half in conference play. Last night they allowed ten points due to turnovers giving North Texas field position in FAU territory. If Bellantoni could translate that effort for the entirety of the game, FAU would be fielding a pretty dominate unit this season.

Youth Movement

This year a ton of young players have seen the field and have made an impact. With two games left in the season look for that trend to continue. Last night freshman linebacker Jerrad Ward, a walk-on, made his first career start and was one of FAU’s leading tacklers on the evening. “We have a lot of freshmen playing a lot of football for us right now,” said Partridge. Ray Ellis, Joe Gold, Raekwon Williams, Kalib Woods and many other freshman saw the field last night and gained significant experience in Conference USA action. “There’s a lot of young guys getting reps right now,” said Partridge. With the amount of experience gained this year with still more to come on the season, next season bodes well as FAU's young player will be in position to be key contributors for years to come.

Game Notes

- FAU has lost four straight games to North Texas

- All four loses have come while Dan McCarney has been North Texas' head coach

- FAU has scored 23 points total in the first quarter during conference play

- FAU has at least lost three straight games six out of the past seven seasons

- Jaquez Johnson has thrown for 99 yards twice this season. Both times the Owls lost.

- FAU allowed an opposing back to reach 100 yards for the third straight game