FAU loss Old Dominion

The FAU Owls suffer another disappointing loss, this time on the road to the Old Dominion Monarchs, 30-16.

After last week’s performance against the Marshall Thundering Herd which snapped their winning streak at Howard Schnellenberger Field at 12, the Owls were hoping to bounce back against ODU.

What resulted was the complete opposite, continuing their inefficiency on offense and lack of discipline on both sides of the ball.

It seems like this has been said all year, but it’s another instance of FAU consistently beating themselves rather than being outclassed by the opposing team. It was another game as the Owls fumbled the ball two times.

The Monarchs were 3-6 going into this game, and while the team is better than what their record says, FAU is the better team. 

They didn’t play like it.

The first 30 minutes was a slogfest between the two teams as the only scores by ODU through most of the first half were two safeties by the Owls. FAU had their first points of the game off of a field goal, but that would be their first score until the third quarter. That touchdown came off of an accurate pass from quarterback N’Kosi Perry to Brandon Robinson on an impressive catch. 

However, it was too little too late as the Monarchs were making big plays on offense that found themselves trailing away from the Owls. 

FAU Hagerty Family Head Coach Willie Taggart gave his opening statements after the game:

“Another bad game for us [with] too many penalties to overcome in this ball game to try to find a way to win. Offensively, we just need to do a good job evaluating our talent and making sure the right guys are in there to get the job done. That’s two weeks back-to-back [we score] 14-16 points. That’s not good enough. You can’t win football games that way.”

Taggart mentioned the penalties as an aspect that needs to be worked on as the Owls committed 12 of them that cost them 104 yards. These penalties were more frustrating as most came from pre-snap on offense that killed drives and some on defense that kept them going. 

While the defense allowed big plays in the second half, there wasn’t too much to complain about throughout most of the game. They gave multiple opportunities for the offense to score, but the offense never found their footing and looked rattled and undisciplined. 

The one bright spot on offense was once again running back Johnny Ford who rushed for 101 yards on 19 carries and caught three passes for 44 yards. He also ran for a touchdown, but as the trend with this game was, it had to come in FAU’s dismay as the extra point was blocked and returned for two points by ODU. 

In the second half, the Owls conducted a lot of plays for Ford, but while the rushing attack was solid, the passing game wasn’t.

Perry threw for 187 yards, one touchdown against ODU as Perry seems to be uncomfortable in the pocket, making him prone to making mistakes. Taggart talks about his performance and the components around him, crediting the lack of protection.

“Not well enough to win of course. But again, we got to be able to protect him. I mean, there were times where he threw a ball and defenders would hit his hand as he was throwing the ball. One time he dropped back and turned around and got sacked there for a safety. I mean, we got to do a better job. One thing we got to do as a staff is really evaluate what we’re doing up front and who we’re doing it with and try to make sure we get the right guy that can come in here and play consistently and give us a chance. You know, it’s hard to throw the ball when you don’t have time to.”

Taggart talks about the defense’s performance and how the offense didn’t reciprocate:

“Well, I thought the defense played well enough for us to win the game, but we got to score more than 16 points. I mean, it’s hard to win when you can’t score more than 16 points in the game. I don’t care who you are. We got to find a way to score more points in ballgames and if we can do that, we’ll have a good football team. Our defense is doing well enough for us to win the ballgame, we’re just offensively not putting the ball in the endzone and it’s my job as the head coach to find a way to get that done and we got two games guaranteed left to figure that out.”

Safety Jordan Helm led the team in total tackles with 15 with Teja Young just behind him with 11. Defensive tackle Evan Anderson recorded a sack along with Chris Jones as both saw time giving ODU QB Hayden Wolff lots of trouble.

When the FAU offense wasn’t starting to muster up anything, ODU’s playmakers like running back Blake Watson found his groove as he ran for 163 yards on 23 carries. While star tight end Zack Kuntz only had five catches for 38 yards, receiver Ali Jennings III had four catches for 99 yards. 

Coaching has to be at the forefront for the causes of another FAU loss in disappointing fashion. Taggart himself agrees and talks about if coaching was the biggest flaw against Old Dominion:

“Well, I think anytime you lose, coaching is always a part of it. You know, just like anytime you win, coaching goes into it, you know so I think we all can be better as coaches and helping our guys with this. Again, that starts with me, this is all on me and I got to do a good job. I got to get this right and make it right. Again, make sure we’re putting guys in the right place in the right position to make plays, but when they’re there in those positions, that is on our players that make those plays. You know, our coaches don’t teach our guys to get penalties. You know, and we got to be better when it comes to that. Our coaches don’t teach our guys to drop balls or fumble. We work on those things all the time and we got to rely on our players to go and execute and make things happen. So like I said early either we find someone else in there that’s gonna do it right for us, or you better get correcting the guys that are making those mistakes.”

It was a long night for the Owls and Taggart touches on what he said to the team right after the game in the locker room.

“Well, like I’ve been telling them, we need to go out and see to it that we send off the seniors out the right way. You know, in a game like that and the mistakes that we made that’s all on us. We got to be true to ourselves and evaluate ourselves and what we did and didn’t do in order to help our football team win a ballgame, but that’s all on each one of us and we got to own that. You know, we got two guaranteed games left and I think it’s right that everybody bust their ass to make sure that these seniors go out with a bowl game. They don’t have another chance for those seniors that have done a lot right for this program. Again, we’re disappointed where we’re at, didn’t think we’ll be where we’re at, but we are what we are right now. And we got two guaranteed games to try to make this thing right. We’re going to do everything we can to do it.”

FAU’s final two games are at Western Kentucky (Nov. 20) and finishing at home against Middle Tennessee (Nov. 27). 

Seeing how the season has played out so far under Taggart and this team, those aren’t sure-fire wins, especially against an explosive Western Kentucky Hilltoppers team.

As said in the preview, the goal in mind for the Owls was to win out, hoping they can win the East division. While that is still the mindset, FAU hast still yet to be bowl eligible with a sixth win on the season, but the record says it all with how this has been playing.

5-5 on the season, 3-3 in conference play. Average. 

Photo courtesy of FAU Athletics.

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Zachary Weinberger
I'm an avid sports watcher of the big three teams based in Miami, Florida: Dolphins, Heat, and Marlins. Also, love professional wrestling! At Lemon City Live, I'm a beat writer for the FAU Football team.

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