Matchup: Monmouth (0-0, 0-0 CAA) @ FAU (0-0, 0-0 AAC)
When: Saturday, September 2nd, 6:00 PM
Where: Howard Schnellenberger Field at FAU Stadium
Radio: FoxSports 640
Opening Line: FAU -21.5
Weather: Current conditions in Boca Raton, FL
The Series: This will be the Owls' first matchup in program history against the Hawks.
Monmouth Team Site: Here
The FAU debut of head coach Tom Herman can't get any closer.
Three consecutive five-win seasons involving back-to-back losing seasons and missed bowl game appearances have compelled the Owls to elevate their standard and have Herman take charge at the helm.
FAU also has the fortune of keeping most of last year's roster, returning over 80% of their production. This allowed the team to build more chemistry with one another throughout spring and fall practice, while having the incoming recruits and transfers become acclimated to their new surroundings.
The Owls have running back Larry McCammon III leading the way at the rushing unit alongside Kobe Lewis and Zuberi Mobley. McCammon III led the Owls last season in rushing yards with 1,004 and touchdowns with eight, receiving First Team All-AAC preseason honors from Phil Steele's Magazine and getting named to the Maxwell Award Preseason Watchlist. With a more retooled and experienced offensive line that did well in protecting the quarterback while creating defensive holes to exploit, the trio will be more than likely to take advantage of the yardage they could gain on Saturday night.
Should Monmouth's struggles in allowing passing yards last season (252.9 yards per game) continue, FAU should attempt to have the ball in the air frequently throughout the game. This would be beneficial especially with Lajohntay Wester, who got career-highs in receiving yards with 719 and overall touchdowns with nine as he earned First Team wide receiver and Third Team punt return All-AAC honors by Phil Steele's Magazine.
Defensive lineman Evan Anderson, safety Armani Eli-Adams, and cornerback Romain Mungin represent the Owls as the stars of the defense. Making 27 tackles (10 solo) in seven games last season, Anderson received preseason All-AAC First-Team honors by Athlon Magazine and is on the Reese's Senior Bowl Watchlist in 2024. Eli-Adams and Mungin provide steady presences at their positions as they could have significant showings against the Hawks.
Starting out the 2023 slate with a pair of contests in Boca Raton, the Owls will stay home and next host the Ohio Bobcats on September 9th at 6:00 PM.
Star Watch: QB Casey Thompson Arguably the biggest addition to the Owls via the transfer portal, Thompson (pictured) has not disappointed throughout fall camp. Having recovered from shoulder surgery over the spring and summer, he has not missed a step with his throws looking smooth and accurate as he won the starting job over Daniel Richardson. Reuniting with head coach Tom Herman as they both worked together at Texas from 2018 to 2020, he joined FAU from Nebraska as he threw for 2,407 yards and 17 passing touchdowns on a 63% completion rate in 10 games with the Huskers last season.
Final Word As head coach Tom Herman prepares for his FAU debut, the team seeks to raise their standards after a string of five-win seasons. With the luxury of retaining over 80% of last year's roster, the Owls aim to capitalize on increased chemistry and a retooled offensive line. Running back Larry McCammon III and receiver Lajohntay Wester stand out as key offensive assets, while defensive players Evan Anderson, Armani Eli-Adams, and Romain Mungin are poised to make their mark. The upcoming matchup against Monmouth offers an opportunity for FAU to showcase their revamped approach under Herman's guidance.
Key Stats Comparison
2022 Final Stats
Monmouth brings plenty of intrigue with their first-ever matchup against the Owls.
They finished with a 5-6 overall record with a 3-5 showing in conference play last season. Their most noteworthy performance was their 49-42 upset win over the Villanova Wildcats last September, who was ranked ninth in the FCS at the time. They also played seven overtime periods before ultimately falling 48-46 to 19th-ranked Rhode Island in October.
FAU should keep an eye on wide receiver Dymere Miller and offensive lineman Greg Anderson. Anderson, an All-CAA selection a season ago, has appeared in 34 career games for Monmouth, starting the last 16 contests. He anchored the top scoring offense in the CAA a season ago and was recently selected to the East-West Shrine Bowl 1000 watch list. On the other hand, Miller is one of the most explosive wide receivers in Division I football, finishing with 820 yards and seven touchdowns in nine games last season. The preseason All-CAA selection caught 55 passes a season ago to give him 78 in his career.
Limiting the production of graduate quarterback Marquez McCray could also be key. Having won the starting job with the Hawks during fall camp, he transferred from Sacred Heart following five seasons earlier this year after leading the Northeast Conference in passing yards with 1,973 while getting eight touchdowns in 10 games throughout the 2022 campaign.
Mike Reid is one defensive player the Owls' offense should be wary about. The senior defensive back, who was named Preseason All-CAA entering this season, made a career-high 52 tackles (42 solo) including a sack or a loss of 10 yards, deflected 12 passes, forced two fumbles, and caught an interception. His efforts garnered him Third Team All-CAA defensive back honors as well as receiving the team's defensive MVP award. He is also tied for eighth in program history with 19 pass breakups total.
Following this contest, Monmouth will travel up to Maryland to face Towson on September 9th at 6:00 PM.
Star Watch: RB Jaden Shirden The Hawks are returning 18 players including their starting running back and CAA's Offensive Player of the Year Jaden Shirden. The junior rushed for a career-high 1,722 yards and scored 13 touchdowns for the conference's best scoring offense en route to the award. He had 211 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries to help the Hawks stun FCS ninth-ranked Villanova last October. Entering this season, he is also named as FCS Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, FCS Preseason Offensive First Team All-American, CAA Preseason Offensive Player or the Year, and CAA Preseason All-Conference First Team by Phil Steele's magazine.
Final Word In their inaugural face-off against the Owls, Monmouth brings a compelling narrative. Last season's 5-6 record included a standout upset against FCS ninth-ranked Villanova and a near-victory against 19th-ranked Rhode Island in a seven-overtime battle. FAU should focus on the impact players of Monmouth, like explosive wide receiver Dymere Miller and anchoring offensive lineman Greg Anderson. Attention to graduate quarterback Marquez McCray and seasoned defensive back Mike Reid is crucial. Additionally, Monmouth's star running back Jaden Shirden's achievements and accolades set the stage for an engaging matchup.