The Florida Atlantic football team concluded another game week session on what was a tame Wednesday morning at the Schmidt Complex Field, making a lot of preparation with three days left until their road encounter against USF.
Defensive coordinator Roc Bellantoni made himself available to media following the practice. He was satisfied with the key stops FAU made to secure the victory in their conference opener against Tulsa, as he looks to keep that momentum going when they take on the Bulls.
"They put a lot of stress on all three levels. They score on the field, they make you defend the entire field. The quarterback can really run, he's their leading rusher and he can chuck the ball. They got a damn good running back, and they got four or five really good receivers," Bellantoni said on the matchup with USF.
"We got our hands full. It's going to be a challenge."
Here are some notes from today's media observation period.
OwlBytes for October 11th
Rush The Bull Keeping quarterback Byrum Brown in check will be the main task for the Owls. The second-year Bull comes into this matchup with 18 touchdowns (11 passing and seven rushing) so far this season, presenting himself as a strong dual-threat FAU has to watch out for. "If it becomes a bunch of guys out there looking for the quarterback, whether he's running or throwing, then we're not doing our job. They are going to exploit other areas, and he won't have to run the ball," Bellantoni said.
With USF having struggled to protect Brown from getting sacked as they have allowed 26 (bottom-10 nationally) for the season, Bellantoni wants to take advantage of that weakness. "We have to win our one-on-one pass rushes and we have to be able to get to the quarterback. If we don't, he can sit there and tap the ball and wait for receivers to get open and it's going to be a long day," he said. Coming off a game-sealing sack against Tulsa, linebacker Jackson Ambush concurred with Bellantoni's statement, listing teammates who can make big contributions on Saturday afternoon. "We got great pass rushers across the board. We got Marlon Bradley and Morven Joseph, those guys up the edge are dangerous. Then you got Chris Jones and the big guys up front. This game could be really good for them," Ambush said.
The Raymond James Experience Home to the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccanneers, the Raymond James Stadium will be a memorable experience for many players on the team especially for safety Amari Wansley, who said this will be his first time being at an NFL stadium. Wansley recorded five tackles (four solo) against Tulsa this past Saturday, as he understands the challenge USF's offense poses against them. "They try to get your eyes wondering around a lot of different places. They do a lot of different motions and stuff like that to try to mess with you," he said.
Blocking Maneuvers The defensive line focused on getting past the opponent's blocks for a good portion of the session. Making the correct maneuvers to allow them to break past their assignment and reach the quarterback would be key to the defense having a successful performance on Saturday.
D-line coach Roosevelt Maggitt (pictured above) instructed the linemen on the movements they have to make to gain an advantage on their matchup, providing them insightful advice on how they can execute the drill better. Of the players to have efficiently performed this drill in particular were Evan Anderson, Chris Jones, Latrell Jean (pictured top, left), and Jaden Wheeler (pictured top, right).
Final Word The Owls are locking in on what will be a big matchup for them, considering the momentum they now have thanks to their win over Tulsa. Bellantoni has shown that he is fully aware of what the Bulls' offense is capable of with quarterback Byrum Brown leading their snaps. With the drills the defense did during today's practice, it seems to be clear that they will look to turn USF's strengths into weaknesses.
Defensive coordinator Roc Bellantoni, linebacker Jackson Ambush, and safety Amari Wansley headline today's Coach's Corner.
The Owls will return to the Schmidt Complex practice field on Thursday morning to continue preparing for USF.