The Florida Atlantic Owls (2-1) are looking to extend their winning streak to three as they get their second road test of the year. They will head up to Colorado to face the Air Force Falcons, who run a unique triple-option attack on offense.
"It's a much different offense," defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said while comparing Air Force's triple-option offense to Georgia Southern's spread-option offense, which FAU beat 38-6 two weeks ago. "The options have similarities but the way they go about it is much different. These guys always have a fullback in a three-spot position. Georgia Southern created a lot of different plays, it's kind of its own read-option type of deal, this is a more veer downhill option game with the fullback being a big part of what they do, so you have to be very conscious of the fullback and play the ball inside out."
The fullback that Stoops is talking about is quite the threat offensively, junior Emmanuel Michel. He showed his ability to break out for big plays in last week's 49-45 loss to Utah State, rushing for 133 yards and two touchdowns. Of those 133 yards, 106 of them came on long touchdown runs, rushing for a 51-yard and a 55-yard touchdown in the third quarter. He was one of three 100-yard rushers that day, as running back Brad Roberts added 113 yards and quarterback Haaziq Daniels had 103.
Air Force is a physical service academy team that will present issues in the trenches for the Owls. "It's a physical game and it's a challenging game where there's a lot of cut blocking that goes on at the line of scrimmage," Stoops said. "You'll have guys chopping at their ankles and cutting them, so you gotta work it during the week and they gotta know what's coming and know how to protect themselves."
The heat is on for the Owls, who look to earn their first road win since Nov. 13, 2020, in the Shula Bowl against FIU. Kickoff for Saturday's game is set for 8:00 p.m. EST at Falcon Stadium in USAF Academy, CO. The game will be broadcast on FS2.
- Here's Johnny! Johnny Ford (photo) is set to return to the lineup after missing last week's game with a dislocated shoulder. He wore a gray, non-contact jersey during practice over the past two weeks, but is seen today wearing the regular red contact jersey. Head Coach Willie Taggart confirmed to the media on Monday that Ford will indeed be in the lineup against Air Force. In the two games Ford played, he has 123 rushing yards and a touchdown on 25 attempts.
- Watch The Air Much of the talk surrounding this week's game has been around the Falcons' ability to run the ball, however, their passing attack adds a unique element to their triple-option offense. Junior quarterback Haaziq Daniels aired the ball out for 182 yards and a touchdown on 6-12 passing against Utah State last week. "[Daniels] has done a great job throwing the ball, so that's another thing in there you gotta worry about," Head Coach Willie Taggart told the media on Monday. "It's enough as it is when it comes to the run game and if he can drop back and throw it the way he did last week, it's another challenge for our guys."
- Wheelin' And Dealin' Freshman defensive lineman Jaden Wheeler went from gray shirting during the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season has now developed into a starter this season. His hard work is already paying dividends, as he currently has four total tackles and a tackle for a loss over the first three games. The Nashville, Ga. native credits Jaylen Joyner and Evan Anderson as leaders on the defensive line that helped him make the leap to the starting lineup. "That's my big brother," Wheeler said of Joyner. "He just took me under his wing and I listened to what he had to say and took advantage of it."
- On The Block and In The Air Junior tight end Logan Patterson has emerged as one of the more reliable players when it comes to both blocking and receiving for the Falcons. He plays a critical role in blocking for that triple-option offense, creating holes for whoever is holding on to the ball, but he's also one of the Falcons' most dangerous receiving threats. Through two games, he has three receptions for 81 yards, so look for him to become a bigger part of the offense if Air Force does opt for the air attack more often this week.
- When It Rains, It Pours Tuesday's practice was moved to the turf fields over by the basketball stadium because of yesterday's heavy rainstorm in Boca. Media availabilities were canceled because of that and the practice field was flooded. They returned to the practice field at the Schmidt Complex on Wednesday, as the fields dried up and they were ready to go. The turf fields aren't the craziest place the Owls had to practice, however, as last year, they practiced in one of the parking garages while it was raining. This calls for an indoor practice facility, if any donors are reading this.
Defensive lineman Jaden Wheeler, running back Kelvin Dean Jr, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, and offensive coordinator Michael Johnson headline today's Video Play.
Inside the Burrow 2021 Ep 7: Air Force & Conference Realignment
Coach Taggart September 20th Presser Notes
GAME CAPSULE: FAU @ Air Force - September 20th, 2021
Takeaways from FAU's Home Opener Victory over Fordham