Boca Raton, FL – FAU head coach Willie Taggart spoke to the media Monday reflecting on the 31-7 loss against Air Force. He also expressed looking ahead to the opening of conference play as the Owls take on the FIU Panthers this Saturday.
After the disappointing defeat last Saturday, Taggart was frustrated at the way he, the coaching staff, and the players performed. He said in the post-game presser that this needs to be a “wake-up call.”
A couple of days removed, Taggart showed a lot more enthusiasm Monday. From the time given, you can tell that the loss still stings, but he brought a more positive and determined attitude.
Taggart opened the scrum talking about his message to the team and what went wrong against Air Force:
“We watched the film and saw the mistakes we made. There were a lot of missed assignments in that game. We talked about correcting those missed assignments. You can’t play games like that. You have to know exactly what you’re doing. Especially when you play games on the road and how one guy can mess it up for everyone. I didn’t think we were really focused the way we needed to be focused in that ballgame, and it made a difference.”
“The bottom line is, guys have to know exactly what they’re doing and we [have] got to execute when it comes to offense. Defensively, in that ballgame, we could have done things better. We didn’t have our guys in the right position at times to really help ourselves against that [triple option offense]. Offensively, too many missed assignments by multiple guys, guys that we count on week in and week out. Our best players can’t be that way.”
The biggest challenge when facing a team like Air Force is learning a whole different type of offense like the triple-option. Now that the loss is behind Taggart and the rest of the team, the focus is on FIU and this week of practice.
How does this week of practice differ after Air Force? Taggart shares his insights:
“It’s gonna look different because we’re not seeing the option. We’re gonna coach the guys hard, we got to practice like winners, practice like champions, we can’t get bored at practice. And we got to demand from our guys that we execute the way we’re supposed to,” Taggart said. “So I think that’s going to be the key with practice, is demanding that they do it the way that we ask and execute the way we used to do.”
Coach Johnson said that because the team was behind so early, it made FAU’s offense one-dimensional and that they didn’t execute the game plan. Part of this was quarterback N’Kosi Perry’s showing as he put up his worst stat line this season, throwing for 78 yards and his first pick of the season.
Johnson speaks on Perry’s performance last Saturday and how he relied too much on the big-play instead of taking what the defense was giving him.
“Well, it wasn’t what we wanted to have or what he wanted to do. Once you get behind and they force you to be one-dimensional, now it’s a whole different ballgame. Now you don’t run the ball, now you push the ball down the field too much. Then you become a less effective passer,” Johnson said. “Everything we do starts with being effective on first down. If we can have an effective first down, it puts you in better third-down situations, and therefore, your quarterback plays better. So, we had done a really good job throughout the season in doing that, for whatever reason, this past weekend, we just didn’t execute.”
Looking ahead to FIU, Taggart sees the Panthers as an athletic team on both sides of the ball. For Johnson, he expresses what he’s looking for the offense to do against the Panthers.
“We’re gonna go back to the basics of what we want to do. We’ve got to come off the ball. We got to be physical. We got to have efficient first downs. We’ve got to put ourselves in manageable third-down situations,” Johnson said. “Got to execute in the red zone. All those things we have to be better at this week. It’s more about us than it is about FIU, so we’re going to study their defense and we’re going to put in a game plan that we feel attacks their defense the right way.”
In last year’s Shula Bowl between FAU and FIU, the Owls blew out the Panthers 38-19. In that game, the MVP award for the annual rivalry game was given to quarterback at the time Javion Posey who ran for 182 yards and a touchdown and threw for 80 yards and two scores.
Since last year Posey has become a “swiss-army knife” player for the Owls, showing that they can use him in the Wildcat, he could catch, throw and run.
Posey talks about the Shula Bowl and what it means for the school and football program.
“The Shula Bowl is huge for FAU,” Posey said. “Being MVP last year, I think it’s something to build off of going into this week. Just trying to do the same and help my team this week to bring home the trophy.”
For the redshirt freshman, the listed wide receiver talks about what he’s improved on since last year.
“I’ve learned more and I’m more experienced,” Posey said. “Just knowing the bigger meaning of the Shula Bowl. Knowing that there’s an MVP and everything else. I’ve learned more about the game of football and the importance of this game.”
The media will speak to defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and requested players tomorrow.
Photo courtesy of FAU Athletics.