The Owls continued their dominance over the team down south with a 38-19 victory Friday night and ran their margin of victory to 176-64 in four years over Butch Davis.
Here are five take away's from the game and what fans should look for moving forward:
"Triple Option Attack" - While FAU's offense on the surface doesn't look like the old school double wing we see at the service academies, the box score tells a different story. Javion Posey (pictured) broke a school record for rushing yards as a QB with 182 yards and added two touchdowns himself. Running backs Malcolm Davidson and James Charles both averaged over eight and a half yards per carry, and each adding a touchdown, respectively. Head coach Willie Taggart used motions by the backs and wideouts to set up read options and keep FIU's front seven off-balanced all night. Fans can expect this "triple option" type offense only to expand as Posey gets more comfortable.
Shutdown Corners - After the losses of talented cornerbacks James Pierre and Chirs Tooley, it was only natural to be concerned about who would be left to play outside corners for FAU. Zyon Gilbert, who has moved from safety, and redshirt freshman Romain Mungin have played beyond all expectations. They are currently only allowing a 45 percent completion percentage and no touchdowns on 72 targets this season. In comparison, Pierre and Tooley allowed a 51 percent completion. Gilbert's ability to multiple positions in the secondary this well will probably earn him getting his name called by an NFL team come April.
Sack City - It has been no secret how deadly the Owl's pass rush has been this season. Defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt has brought a much more aggressive blitzing scheme to FAU, and it's paying off big time. They are led by senior Leighton McCarthy and redshirt sophomore Jaylon Joyner, who each have six. The Owls are averaging 3.8 sacks a game in 2020 compared to just over 2.4 per game in 2019.
"Special" Special Teams - Under now third-year specials teams coach Jaron Fairman, they have been one of the most consistent bunches in the conference. Punter Matt Hayball is currently second in the CUSA, averaging just over 45 yards per punt, and placekicker Vladimir Rivas has been more than dependable five of six on field-goal attempts this season. Speedy freshman wideout Lajohntay Wester is also averaging an impressive 8.9 yards per punt return, which leads the conference.
Passing Game Must Grow - On the flip side of all the fun, a multi-leveled rushing attack has provided, the passing game has been practically nonexistent. All four of FAU's wins have come with less than 12 completions in a game. The receiver rotation has been inconsistent outside of T.J. Chase, and the tight ends have become nonexistent, providing only two catches from that position all season. The passing game has to grow in a similar way we saw in the 2017 season with Jason Driskell, or more talented teams will make it hard for the Owls to put up points being so dimensional.
The Owls are set to have senior night and their final home game of the 2020 season next Friday, November 20th, at 8:00 PM when they take on the recently scheduled University of Massachusetts Minute Men.
Shula Bowl XIX Post Game: Willie Taggart
BOX SCORE: Shula Bowl XIX