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GAME CAPSULE: FAU vs Ohio - September 9th, 2023

FAU Seeks Payback Against Ohio In Week 2 Matchup

Matchup: Ohio (1-1, 0-0 MAC) @ FAU (1-0, 0-0 AAC)

When: Saturday, September 9th, 6:00 PM

Where: Howard Schnellenberger Field at FAU Stadium


Stream: ESPN+

Radio: FoxSports 640

Opening Line: FAU -5

Weather: Current conditions in Boca Raton, FL

The Series: This will be the Owls' second matchup in program history against the Bobcats. Ohio won last season's matchup at home in a 41-38 nail-biter.

Ohio Team Site: Here

Owl Notes

From an offensive standpoint, FAU couldn't look better to start the season.

They entertained their home crowd with six touchdowns, five of them coming from quarterback Casey Thompson as he threw them to receivers Tony Johnson, Je'Quan Burton, and Lajohntay Wester. Thompson's five passing touchdowns has him tied for fourth in the country in that category.

"I saw those guys making some key blocks in the run game and key blocks down field when guys are out there in the open so I'm really happy, not just for those individually, but more so the future of that side of the ball," head coach Tom Herman said on the receivers' performances.

Among the receiving trio, Johnson shined the brightest. Getting more playing time towards the latter part of last season, he drew praise from head coach Tom Herman throughout fall camp as he earned a starting spot against Monmouth. He did not disappoint either, tallying up to two touchdowns and 91 yards (72 long) on five receptions, all career-highs for the redshirt sophomore.

One could expect the Owls' run game to play a more crucial role against Ohio than it did against Monmouth. Running back Larry McCammon III scored a touchdown and reached over 100 rushing yards for the fifth time in his career, as Kobe Lewis returns to the fray after sitting out against Monmouth due to a rib injury.

FAU will need to have significant defensive adjustments to stop Ohio, especially with stopping the passing game. They allowed 249 yards and two touchdowns in the air, which Ohio is averaging 191.5 yards and two touchdowns per game in that department. Taking into account that they only sacked Monmouth's quarterback once, having the need to be more persistent in breaking the Bobcats' defensive line and getting to their quarterback would be the remedy to the Owls succeeding.

Two surprises that came from the Owls' defense was defensive end Marlon Bradley and cornerback Darius McClendon. Playing as a reserve for most of his career with the program, Bradley took advantage of the opportunity to be a starter by making five tackles (three solo) and recording the team's only sack for a loss of seven yards. On the other hand, McClendon impressed in his Owl debut with six tackles (five solo) and a pass deflection while splitting reps with Jayden Williams at the nickelback slot.

They patiently await the status of defensive co-captain Armani Eli-Adams, who is in concussion protocol as Herman hopes he can return to practice on Thursday and be available for Saturday.

With their first two home games out of the way, the Owls will then head out on the road to South Carolina and face the Clemson Tigers on September 16th at 8:00 PM.

Star Watch: RB Larry McCammon III Even as the Owls' receivers stole the show against Monmouth, McCammon III continued to be a highlight reel, hurdling a defender and making a long run to get the Owls close to the end zone as it resulted in a touchdown.

His reliability and production will be put to the test against Ohio's run defense, which only allowed 34 rushing yards against Long Island. He will have Kobe Lewis and Zuberi Mobley to back him up, but this provides a great opportunity for McCammon III to help the Owls avenge last season's defeat to the Bobcats.

Final Word As FAU continues their season, their offense has shown impressive strength with a dynamic performance in the latest game, including quarterback Casey Thompson's exceptional five passing touchdowns. The run game is expected to play a more prominent role, led by Larry McCammon III, who has consistently delivered standout moments.

Defensive adjustments will be critical in their upcoming matchup against Ohio, particularly in countering the passing game, and the Owls await the status of key player Armani Eli-Adams.

Key Stats Comparison

Bobcat Notes

Ohio provides an interesting matchup that FAU will surely want to get payback against.

They went down fighting in a 20-13 defeat to San Diego State as 2.5-point underdogs during Week 0. While they bounced back with a resounding 27-10 win over Long Island, they did so in spite of not having their starting quarterback in Kurtis Rourke.

Rourke, who threw for 345 yards and four touchdowns at a completion rate of 79.4% to secure the victory over FAU last year, sustained an apparent leg injury against the Aztecs. His availability against the Owls for Saturday seems to be probable as Ohio's head coach Tim Albin provided updates on him and other players during their weekly presser.

"We are on schedule for those guys to practice and play Saturday…not only Kurtis but all the guys who have been out," Albin said.

Having Rourke adds a different dimension to the Bobcats' offense, as he threw for 3,256 yards and 25 touchdowns to win the MAC's Offensive Player of the Year award last year. Whether it is him or backups CJ Harris and Parker Navarro, the Owls must be ready for who leads Ohio's snaps.

The Bobcats have relied more on their run game with Rourke's absence. Running back Sieh Bangura has taken advantage of this change in play by getting a combined total of 172 yards (ninth in the country) on 36 rushes against San Diego State and Long Island. Even though no Bobcat has yet to record a rushing touchdown, preventing them from gaining any type of yardage should be a key priority for FAU's defense.

Speaking of defense, Ohio's run defense is no joke. They only allow 89.5 yards per game, which places them in the top 50 (39th) of the nation. FAU's running back trio of Larry McCammon III, Kobe Lewis, and Zuberi Mobley will have their hands full when it comes to getting past this defense in particular.

After this matchup, the Bobcats will return home to Athens and host Iowa State on September 16th at 12:00 PM.

Star Watch: LB Bryce Houston When it comes to making tackles, Houston has the third-most tackles in the country with 24 (11 solo) while fellow teammate Keye Thompson trails him with 12. Houston made 13 tackles (seven solo) against San Diego State and added 11 tackles (four solo) while making a sack and his first career interception to help his team get the win against Long Island. As the team captain last year, he recorded 76 tackles (40 solo), 5.5 sacks, and two fumble recoveries as a key player to the defense.

Final Word Ohio presents an interesting profile heading into the matchup against FAU, with a defeat to San Diego State followed by a win over Long Island, albeit without their starting quarterback Kurtis Rourke. Rourke's potential return adds a new dimension to the Bobcats' offense, with his impressive track record.

However, the Owls must also contend with Ohio's strong run game and formidable run defense. Linebacker Bryce Houston stands out as a key defensive player to watch, with an impressive tackle record. The upcoming matchup against Ohio presents both challenges and opportunities for FAU.

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