From the first couple drives of the game, it was easy to tell what type of night it would be for the Owls against Georgia Southern - the defense would being playing bend don't break versus a tricky triple-option attack, and the offense would continue their struggles.
The game ended up playing out exactly like that in a 20-3 loss to the Eagles, a team who has now won 27 in a row out of the conference at home.
Here are five takeaway's from last night's action:
Posey is Not Ready - Despite the great athleticism Javion Posey has struggled mightily under center for the Owls in his three starts. Posey is only completing 50.8 if his passes with two touchdowns in the air and has turned it over five times. Everything from misreading safeties, feeling the pressure that is not there, and not protecting the ball while running has plagued him. Nick Tronti (pictured above) moved the ball better when he was in and probably would have given the Owls a better chance to win if put in earlier in the game. Tronti should be the starter for Southern Miss and whatever Bowl game the Owls may land in as he has only one turnover in 262 snaps this year.
The Play-Calling Debate - It is common for fans to be upset about "play-calling" whenever a team struggles scoring points. That may be true in some cases, but it has not been evident in the Owls' struggles yet. During the Owls' second to last drive of the game, they faced a third one after a nine-yard Tronti run. They lined up and ran standard read option to running back James Charles to the left side, which was stuffed. On the next play, they then ran QB power, which was taken for a loss. Both are standard plays that good teams should execute 9 out of 10 times. Fans also showed frustration with some of the attempted long passes, but when teams play eight or nine in the box, you have to take those shots and trust your quarterback can read a single high safety and rely on a wideout to make a play in one on one. Execution always trumps playing calling, and the Owls are simply not executing.
Paper Running Back Room - It is no secret heading into the season, the Owls' deepest position was running back, and the offense could hope to lean on them when moving the ball became difficult. The depth of the running back room has evaporated this season. The talent of the room becomes meaningless when no one can stay healthy. This issue continued last night when Owls came into the game already down BJ Emmons and got worse when Malcolm Davidson limped off after only eight snaps. Running back is a position that gets better with feel and reps over a game and a season, but no FAU back has carried the ball more than 60 times this year, making it hard to create consistency. I would expect younger backs to play a larger role earlier with the 2021 Owls if the staff can't rely on the vets to stay out of the trainer's room.
Mountain Man - The Owls defense did everything you can ask for against a difficult triple offense attack, and it has a lot to do with true freshman Evan Anderson, who has been excellent this year. At 6-3', 355 lbs, he has figuratively and literally filled a significant hole on the Owls' defensive line. According to the Pro Football Focus grading models, Anderson has been the highest-rated FAU defender this season with a 90.3 rating. The sky is the limit for the big man, who has not even seen a full college offseason strength program.
Portal Mania - The quarterback issues make it apparent that Willie Taggart his staff will have to bring in immediate competition going into the 2021 season. With a one-time free transfer rule most likely coming and players getting the ability to apply for a one year "Covid wavier." The infamous transfer portal will be more loaded than with players looking to make a change. There have already been 35 quarterbacks enter for 2021 cycle, with four finding new homes so far. Expect that number to grow exponentially as the season closes. The story of the 2021 Owls likely will come down to who they land in the coming months.
FAU will now quickly turn their attention to Southern Miss, who they will take on in a rare Thursday night contest to close out the 2020 regular season.
POST GAME: FAU vs GSU - Coach Willie Taggart
BOX SCORE: FAU vs GSU
FAU vs GSU Game Thread
Fearless Predictions FAU vs GSU
2020 FAU Football Schedule