It is homecoming on Saturday, and it is a strange one because it is a non-conference game and a night game. Usually this is like a noon game against Minnesota or something, but instead we get the first ever matchup with Florida Atlantic. Rick Henderson of FAU Owl’s Nest was kind enough to answer my questions this week about the Owls.
T-Mill: FAU is very transfer heavy, with many guys coming from Power 5 schools. How has this paid off as a strategy?
Rick: Defensively, FSU transfer linebacker Jaleel Mcrae has been a notable addition. In the secondary, Daemon Hill and Michal Antoine are both showing some gains with just under a dozen tackles each. DC Todd Orlando likes to apply pressure, and he has the tools to do it with. We’ve tightened up in some areas, but we still have a ways to go as well. Offensively, the line is showing the most improvement. Rutgers transfer Brendan Bordner, and MTSU transfer Dorian Hinton have been solid additions to the left side. FSU wide receiver transfer Jordan Young (hand) has yet to make an impact, but would expect that to occur as soon as he is cleared.
T-Mill: You guys are a pretty up and down 2-2, but the offense has been mostly consistent. What is working?
As previously mentioned, the revamped line, and the reinsertion of Larry McCammon is a big part. McCammon had some flashes his freshman year under Lane Kiffin but then faded a bit in the last two seasons. Now that we have the supporting cast in place he’s jumped out to a hefty 394 yards through four games. That’s 70 more than he had in nine games in 2019. And McCammon has a new friend in Zuberi Mobley who - while a change of pace guy - has started to emerge as co-star. The N’Kosi Perry to LaJohntay Wester connection has also been a significant role player in production.
T-Mill: I watched quite a bit of N’Kosi Perry when he was at Miami. How has he improved his game?
His biggest leap has been off the field with leadership, organization, and mentorship. Something that often goes unnoticed. Getting guys to buy into the mission, and helping them all get on the same page. On the field, he’s began to connect on some long routes that were not there previously, or were missed. His next step is to begin to string together consistent 63% or better throwing efforts. If he makes that happen, it could be tough to beat FAU after this weekend.
T-Mill: The defense got beat up a bit by UCF and Ohio. What happened?
Rick: We were actually beat up ourselves. Four starters were out for Ohio, and others playing with broken hands. It wasn’t ideal, and is one of the main reasons we lost the game. Starting all conference nose tackle Evan Anderson is still out, and that is hurting us in a number of ways from a pressure standpoint as he is a double team guy and would change the entire scheme up front. Central Florida you had senior leader and safety Teja Young sidelined and a couple others injured or ejected along the way. We have yet to see our full compliment on the field.
T-Mill: How big of a game is this for FAU since it is your only Power 5 opponent?
Rick: Well, we had P5 in waiting Central Florida, but just like their self proclaimed “National Champions” status it won’t count. However, it did feel like one in all reality. That said, any time you go on the road to play a team like Purdue you benefit from the media wagon, and that dream of stealing one with a big paycheck attached. This game has other symbolic meaning as the Boilermaker staff has a few ties to FAU and founding father Howard Schnellenberger in that of both Coach Brohm, and Coach Williams.
T-Mill: What does FAU need to do in order to pull the upset?
Rick: Nearly the same as last week in all reality. It’s going to take a a near perfect game on both ends of the field. No turnovers, very limited penalties, Perry must throw 63% or better, and we will need a couple turnovers generated by the defense. That’s a lot to ask, but it’s also why the game is played.