NCF Nation: Florida Atlantic Owls

ACC weekend rewind: Week 1

September, 2, 2013
There's one more game to go, but here's a look back at the weekend that was in the ACC:

The good: You have to start with Clemson, which came away with a signature, 38-35 home victory over favored Georgia from the SEC and has earned the early status of national title contender. The Tigers became the first non-SEC team ever to defeat consecutive top-10 SEC opponents. Tajh Boyd looked like a Heisman contender and Sammy Watkins looked like the guy everyone remembered from 2011. Dabo Swinney stressed that it was just one game, but it was certainly a major one for the ACC and its national perception.

The bad: North Carolina's offensive line played respectable against Jadeveon Clowney and the vaunted South Carolina front. But the defense surrendered too many big plays, including a 75-yard touchdown run, a 65-yard touchdown pass and a 29-yard touchdown pass. The Tar Heels scored just one touchdown in three red zone trips in their 27-10 season-opening loss.

The ugly: Beamer Ball was missing Saturday, as Virginia Tech gave up a punt return touchdown and a kickoff return touchdown to Alabama's Christion Jones. Vinnie Sunseri also notched a pick-six off Logan Thomas, whose 5-of-26 passing line was far from spectacular, too. (Honorable mention: FAU coach Carl Pelini ordering a spike on fourth down late in Friday's 34-6 loss at Miami.)

The surprise: Jim Grobe was not kidding when he said he was going to play more true freshmen this season. Wake Forest broke in nine first-year players during Thursday's 31-7 win over Presbyterian. In his previous 12 years, Grobe had only played 22 true freshmen in total. (In opponent news, Villanova's fake punt against BC has to qualify here as well.)

strong>The history: In beating Elon 70-0, Georgia Tech tied a school record for points in the modern era and set a school record for margin of victory in the modern era. The Yellow Jackets also broke the ACC record for margin of victory, and their 10 touchdowns tied a school record as well.

The delay(s): UNC and South Carolina took a nearly two-hour break Thursday because of lightning. Virginia's opener Saturday against BYU was delayed more than two hours because of bad weather, too. How bad? Just take a look at the picture BYU posted on Twitter of the flooding in the tunnels of Scott Stadium.

The unfortunate turn of events: Dave Doeren unveiled Brandon Mitchell as his quarterback choice. It looked like the right one before Mitchell suffered a foot injury that will force him to miss four to six weeks. The Arkansas transfer went 3-of-3 for 93 yards and orchestrated consecutive touchdown drives to start the game. Colorado State transfer Pete Thomas shouldered the load after Mitchell's injury.

The playmaker: Duke Johnson gets this honor after tallying three plays of 35 yards or more in the first half Friday night for Miami. Johnson looks like he won't be taken down by a sophomore slump this year, as he opened with 186 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.

Instant Analysis: Alabama 40, FAU 7

September, 22, 2012

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Florida Atlantic may have thought Alabama ‘ain’t what people think,’ but the Crimson Tide proved why they are still the No. 1 team in the country with a dominating 40-7 win over the Owls on Saturday.

The offense finished with more than 500 total yards as UA quarterback AJ McCarron was 15-of-25 passing for 212 and three touchdowns, and running back Eddie Lacy carried the ball 15 times for 106 yards in the first half alone.

The late touchdown by Florida Atlantic was the first score the defense had allowed since the season opener against Michigan. Surprisingly, Alabama didn’t force a turnover in the game after forcing five the week before.

It was over when: Florida Atlantic defensive end Cory Henry didn’t do the Owls any favors when he ran his mouth before the game, and it took just three plays for Alabama's McCarron to connect with junior wide receiver Kenny Bell on an 85-yard touchdown pass to put the Tide on the board. There was no coming back from the early blow.

Game ball goes to: Lacy looked like himself again last week in the big win over Arkansas, and he followed it up with another solid performance on Saturday, carrying the ball 15 times for 106 yards in the first half. Although he didn’t get in the end zone, Lacy showed the burst, the power and the elusiveness that makes him great. He even threw in his patented spin move.

Stat of the game: Through three quarters, Alabama’s defense held Florida Atlantic to 41 total yards and one first down. The Owls put together a touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter but still finished with just 110 yards in the game.

Unsung hero: Alabama’s offensive line is considered one of the best units in the nation, but it still doesn’t always get the credit it deserves. On Saturday, all four Tide running backs averaged more than 6 yards per carry. As a team, Alabama rushed for 256 yards on 47 carries.

What it means for Alabama: The final score may have seemed a bit surprising given what the Tide did to Arkansas last week, but all three units looked sharp, and more importantly, the game gave Alabama a chance to play some of its reserves and get them game experience. It’s a long season, and it’s important to be prepared in case of injury.

What it means for Florida Atlantic: The Owls never had a chance, but the final score was closer than what many people expected. The positives for Florida Atlantic were ball security and its red zone defense, and it’s something to build on for the future.

Georgia Bulldogs' offense in overdrive

September, 16, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. -- If one of Aaron Murray's teams has had a better night on offense, he can't remember it. Nothing comes close to Murray's Georgia club racking up a school-record 713 yards in Saturday night's 56-20 win against Florida Atlantic.

"As a whole, I think this is the best offensive performance I've ever been part of," said Georgia's quarterback, who completed 14 of 19 passes for a career-high 342 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

Although Georgia's defense got off to a shaky start without injured All-America linebacker Jarvis Jones in the lineup, Florida Atlantic's inability to do anything at all against Georgia's offense prevented the Owls (1-2) from staying competitive. The Bulldogs (3-0) scored touchdowns on eight of their first 11 possessions and eventually turned a close game into a rout.

To keep things in perspective, No. 7 Georgia has opened the season 3-0 for the first time since 2008 by beating Missouri and two teams -- Buffalo and Florida Atlantic -- the Bulldogs should have dominated. But they scored 40-plus points against each, marking the first time in school history the Bulldogs have pulled off such a feat in their first three games.

"Overall the effort was outstanding. When guys had a chance to make plays, they made plays. And we had explosive plays, which was good to see," said offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, who had nine different players responsible for a play that covered at least 24 yards.

Read the rest of the story at DawgNation ...

Instant analysis: Georgia 56, FAU 20

September, 15, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. -- Although Florida Atlantic (1-2) kept things close for most of the first half, No. 7 Georgia (3-0) efficiently pulled away for a 56-20 win to achieve a 3-0 start for the first time since 2008.

It was over when: A six-touchdown favorite, Georgia led just 28-14 at halftime but scored two quick touchdowns in the third quarter -- on a 36-yard Arthur Lynch catch and a 38-yard Todd Gurley run -- to end any thought of an FAU upset.

Game ball goes to: Gurley and Keith Marshall. The two freshmen both rushed for more than 100 yards, marking the first time since last year’s Auburn game (Isaiah Crowell and Carlton Thomas) that two Bulldog backs both broke the 100-yard barrier and the first time since 2004 against Vanderbilt (Danny Ware and Thomas Brown) that two freshmen accomplished the feat. Marshall finished with 10 carries for 104 yards and a touchdown, and Gurley ran 10 times for 111 yards and a score.

Stat of the game: 713. Without injured All-America outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, Georgia’s defense didn’t have its best night. But the offense had no such issues, rolling up 713 yards of total offense in the blowout victory. That broke the school single-game record for total offense -- previously 667 yards -- set in 1993 against Southern Mississippi.

Turning point: It was only a 21-14 game when Georgia’s Michael Bennett caught a 67-yard touchdown pass with 1:34 left in the second quarter to give the Bulldogs a two-touchdown halftime lead.

Record performances: In addition to the total offense record, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray set a new career high with 342 passing yards on 14-for-19 passing. Marshall and Gurley’s rushing yardage set new career highs, and Bennett (four catches for 110 yards) and Lynch (3 for 73) both had career-best receiving numbers. Florida Atlantic also set a new mark for most yards allowed, breaking the previous record of 651 against Troy in 2009.