Matchup: FAU (4-5, 3-2 AAC) vs East Carolina (1-8, 0-5 AAC)
When: Saturday, November 11th, 4:00 PM
Where: Howard Schnellenberger Field at FAU Stadium
Live Reactions: YouTube
Radio: FoxSports 640
Opening Line: FAU -11
Weather Forecast: Current conditions in Boca Raton, FL
The Series: This will be the Owls' second matchup in program history against East Carolina, losing 31-13 in their first encounter. FAU is 6-8 all-time against AAC opponents.
ECU Team Site: Here
The Owls left Birmingham with a bitter taste in their mouths, and hope to wash it off with a sweet victory back home at Howard Schenellenber Field.
Even though they lost to UAB in the end, the fact that they were able to make a comeback down multiple scores and take the lead is a great sign of progress for this program, which has struggled to do this in years prior.
The Owls last faced East Carolina in 2013, losing the inaugural contest 31-13 on the road at Greenville, North Carolina. Notable alumni from that game include the likes of Jaquez Johnson, Jay Warren, Jenson Stoshak, William Dukes, Sharrod Neasman, Brandin Bryant, Trevon Coley, D'Joun Smith, and Trey Hendrickson.
As the run game perseveres through the ups and downs, running back Kobe Lewis (pictured below via Bob Markey II) made a significant contribution against the Blazers with starter Larry McCammon III going through the typical bumps and bruises. Lewis finished with 80 yards on a season-high 16 carries, scoring the touchdown that gave FAU the lead before UAB ultimately countered with a 10-0 run that the Owls were unable to negate.
"Kobe will play the role that he has always played as a co-starter anyways, because we rotate [him and McCammon III] quite a bit. But I was proud and happy for Kobe that he was was able to impact the game the way that he did," head coach Tom Herman said.
FAU can't be talked about without mentioning the historical feats wide receiver Lajohntay Wester has accomplished so far this year. He became the third player in program history to reach 1,000 receiving yards in a season, joining wide receiver Cortez Gent (2007: 1,084) and tight end Harrison Bryant (2019: 1,004). With three regular-season games remaining, he is on pace to become the all-time leader in total receiving yards.
Expect the defense to turn things up a notch after a disappointing display against the Blazers. Keep an eye on safety Jarron Morris, linebacker Desmond Tisdol, and defensive lineman Evan Anderson. Morris recorded a season-high 13 tackles, Tisdol made 11 tackles and was involved in blocking UAB's first field-goal attempt, while Anderson had a fumble recovery during the Owls' efforts to rally down 21 points in the second half.
After this matchup, FAU will host their last home game of the regular season against nationally-ranked Tulane on November 18th at 12:00 PM. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.
Star Watch: QB Daniel Richardson With the Pirates having more touchdowns against the pass than the run (17-10), this is a great opportunity for Richardson to put himself back on track after going through some ups and downs against UAB's defense. Despite the inconsistencies that game, including a pick-six to begin the second half, he still ended up with a decent statistical performance of 293 yards and three touchdowns. It would be possible that the quarterback will be more attentive with his reads and finding the open man at a moment's notice.
Final Word With East Carolina tying with North Texas for the lowest number of sacks in the conference (tied eighth-worst nationally), FAU's offensive line should have the capability to protect Richardson from potential attempts the Pirates could make. The Owls average more yards per play than their opponent, meaning it is possible that they could have another productive showing offensively while the defense comes out in resounding fashion. If FAU wants to keep their chances of securing bowl eligibility alive, this game agains the Pirates is a must-win.
Key Stats Comparison
Moral victories rarely come for teams looking for actual wins, but East Carolina can feel content having put a nationally-ranked Tulane squad on their toes.
They limited a Green Wave offense averaging 28.7 points per game to just 13 despite ultimately coming up short in the end.
An obvious weakness for the Pirates is their offense. They score just 17.7 points on average, ranked the sixth-worst at the national level, only passing the 20-point mark three times.
They have also shown a vulnerability in failing to complete passes. Their quarterbacks have combined for a 51% success rate, putting them as the sixth-lowest in the country and at the very bottom when compared to teams who have thrown 300 or more passes.
East Carolina has seen benefits from the run game, mainly Rahjai Harris. The running back leads the unit with 324 yards and four touchdowns on 96 carries. Even though he's on a four-game scoreless streak since his last touchdown against Rice on September 30th, his 52 yards on 13 rushes against Tulane still presents him as a potential threat that the Owls have to be aware of.
The Pirates have garnered more credit for their defense despite having inconsistencies. They have shown a willingness to hurry the quarterback and break up passes, with linebacker Teylor Jackson (three QBH, one BU), defensive back Shavon Revel (nine BU), outside linebacker Jeremy Lewis (five QBH, one BU), linebacker BJ Davis (one QBH, seven BU), and defensive lineman Chad Stephens (four QBH) sharing the spotlight in those respective categories.
With the conclusion of this contest, East Carolina will travel north to Maryland for their road finale against Navy on November 18th at 12:00 PM. The game will be broadcast on ESPNews.
Star Watch: DB Julius Wood When it comes to tackling, Wood is the Pirates' undisputed star. He heads the team in that category with 68 (35 solo) including 2.5 for a loss of three yards. He even has an interception, a pass breakup, and a quarterback hurry to add onto his performances this season. He was also named 2023 Preseason Second-Team All-AAC by Phil Steele Magazine, a Third-Team All-AAC selection by Athlon Sports, 2023 Preseason Second-Team All-AAC by College Football Network.
Final Word While their play distribution nearly shows an even split, East Carolina has benefitted more from scoring touchdowns with the run than the pass with a 10:5 ratio. Regardless of who leads their snaps at quarterback, their ability to time their passes and throw them accurately will be put to the test against an FAU defense looking to bounce back. If the Pirates wish to get their second win this year, they will have to be at their best on both sides of the ball to pull off the upset.