The Florida Atlantic football team concluded another game week session at the Schmidt Complex practice field on a mostly sunny Wednesday morning, making a lot of preparation with three days remaining until their road encounter with Illinois.
Defensive coordinator Roc Bellantoni made himself available to media following the session.
He said the team's mindset has remained resilient despite the 1-2 start to the season, as they are looking to fight for a win against the Illini.
"Illinois is obviously another tough task. You're on the road in a big environment and all those things. They have good players, really good coaches, and really good schemes," Bellantoni said regarding the matchup with Illinois this upcoming Saturday.
"Obviously another tall task for us, but I think they're preparing well and I think they're confident that they can go out if they do what they're supposed to do, we'll be in the game and we'll have a chance."
Here are some notes from today's media observation period.
OwlBytes for September 20th
The Key To Opportunity Injuries afflicted to the depth at running back has opened up opportunities to the likes of Keyvon Walker (pictured). He made his FAU debut last Saturday against Clemson, gaining up to 22 yards on four carries. "I just picked up where the other running backs left off. It was a great atmosphere…and I just took advantage of the moment and seized the opportunity," Walker said. If one of the three tailbacks in Larry McCammon III, Kobe Lewis, or Zuberi Mobley are unable to play on Saturday, Walker is likely to get some reps against the Fighting Illini.
Mobile At The Helm With quarterback Casey Thompson going down with a season-ending injury against Clemson, Daniel Richardson and Michael Johnson Jr. took to the field to assume QB responsibilities. The debut was a long time coming for the latter, earning his first rushing touchdown as an Owl. While he did not the throw the ball once against Clemson and during today's drills, he exuded plenty of mobility with the speed he possesses whenever he runs the ball himself. Richardson is expected to start against Illinois on Saturday afternoon, but it could be within the realm of possibility that FAU opts to run the ball with Johnson Jr. if he's out there leading the snap.
Applying Pressure Defensive coordinator Roc Bellantoni noted how Illinois' quarterback Luke Altmeyer has a tendency to make risky passes, having thrown seven interceptions so far this season. "We've got to get more pressure on the quarterback. We haven't been getting as much pressure as we'd like. It's a big focus for what we're trying to get done," Bellantoni said.
"We're trying to improve our pass rush, and if a guy can stand back there and he's really comfortable, he's gonna have all day to throw or be very comfortable to step up in the pocket, then he's going to pick you apart."
Final Word Beating Illinois could provide much needed momentum to an FAU side looking to bounce back from their blowout defeat at Clemson and the injuries they have sustained throughout the past few weeks. Taking away the receiving options Illinois has at their disposal would be a great place to start, not to mention keeping their quarterback in tough situations at all times. The Owls seem to be making sure that they are doing everything possible to get an upset victory at Champaign and enter the bye week with relief instead of disappointment.
Defensive coordinator Roc Bellantoni and running back Keyvon Walker headline today's Coach's Corner.
The Owls will return to the Schmidt Complex practice field on Thursday morning to continue their preparations against Illinois.