Based on most recent social media commentary, one might say that it's hate week for FAU [5-3, 3-1 C-USA] as they face off against the Marshall Thundering Herd [5-3, 3-1 C-USA] and fight for first place in Conference USA's Eastern division.
And FAU players seem to agree.
"This is my first year here for the Marshall game and it's worse than FIU," offensive lineman Chaz Neal said. "It's hate week. Every week is hate week for us, but this week, it's personal. If we win this game, we win the conference championship. We're gonna take care of business this week and it's going to be very physical up front."
Marshall is bringing back a similar team that they had when they beat FAU 20-9 last season - also bringing back a lot of experience in general from the Herd's 7-1 series lead over FAU.
"They're very stout up front," safety Teja Young said. "They have a lot of experience coming back up front and they have a lot of experience coming back on their offense all together. That's what stands out to me the most, they have the same players we played last year."
FAU looks to counter Marshall's history of beating the Owls by this game's being at Schnellenberger Field, where they have a 12-game winning streak. Find out which one of those streaks prevail as the two teams go head to head for first place in the C-USA East. They'll take each other on at 6 p.m.
- Home Streak vs Marshall Struggles On the pressure going into a game like this with combatting streaks, offensive coordinator Michael Johnson said: "We're treating this as we gotta go 1-0 this week. Marshall just happens to be that team this week. Things haven't gone well in the past, but a lot of us haven't been here. We're preparing hard, expecting a good football game against a good football opponent. Our motto is 'we don't lose at home,' so we're going to do our best to keep that streak going."
- Sticking With The Identity FAU's identity has been running the football this season, averaging 38.9 yards per attempt and 171.1 rushing yards per game. However, they're playing against a stout Marshall defense that ranks ninth in pass defense (171.3 yards per game,) FAU will have to establish the run to win. "We want to be physical," Johnson said. "We feel that everything we do starts with the run game. We want to get that going because it opens up everything else that we do. When we're effective running the ball, we're hard to deal with."
- Hate Week With a win against Charlotte, FAU currently holds the first seed in the C-USA East with a 2-1 conference record. Their next matchup after this is against Marshall - with who they share first place. However, Head Coach Willie Taggart isn't focused on watching the standings."I promise you, we're not thinking about anything other than UTEP," he said. "We do not play the scoreboard, so we're not worried about that thing up there, we're worried about UTEP and their offense, defense, and special teams. So, that's all we're locked into and that's all we need to be locked into, we can't worry about things that we can't control, we gotta worry about the thing that we can, which is having a great week of practice and going out there and trying to have our best game this week."
- Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops on Marshall HC Charles Huff "I worked with Coach Huff for a couple years at Alabama and he's a tremendous running backs coach. Obviously they take a lot of pride in running the football. Just like he was at Alabama, he'd have guys who'd come downhill and trying to be physical. I know it's going to be a very physical football game, we know that, that's how they want to play, we just have to make sure we tackle well and we'll have to strike box and get off, and just be physical at the point of attack, because if we're not, these are big guys that run awfully hard, so I'm impressed with their running backs."
- What They Are Saying Here's what Marshall head coach Charles Huff had to say about FAU. "Coach Taggart has done a really good job of assembling a really good group of players who compliment each other. Offensively, it starts with their quarterback [N'Kosi] Perry. He does a good job of distributing the ball in their system, he runs well enough with the ball to create some plays. We talked about one of the things we needed to do last week that we did great great is staying in coverage in scramble situations. This week it's going to really be a challenge because he is athletic enough to move around and he keeps his eyes downfield so they've hit some big plays on some scramble drills that we're going to have to be prepared for. Their running back, [Johnny] Ford [photo, far right], has kinda been Mr. Electric. They find ways to get him the footbal in space and he has the juice to take it the distance. So those two guys on offense really create a lot of challenges for defenses because you gotta be able to maintain and cage the quarterback, but also set the edge on the defense to make sure their running back doesn't get in space."
Head Coach Willie Taggart, Offensive Coordinator Michael Johnson, offensive lineman Chaz Neal, Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops, and safety Teja Young headline this week's VideoPlay.