BOCA RATON, Fla. – The Florida Atlantic University football team returned to the practice fields after a day off due to the bye week and began putting together the game plan for this Thursday’s game at Charlotte, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and to air on CBS Sports Network.
The Owls move into the short week after focusing much of last week on fundamentals, healing and getting better as a team. As they begin piecing together those elements, the team will have the first six games of experience to draw upon and will continue to build upon established strengths. Those include the ability to convert third downs more than 50% of the time (which lists them No. 5 nationally and first among Conference USA members) as well as a defense that ranks No. 6 in red zone defense, No. 11 in passing efficiency defense and No. 14 nationally in passing yards allowed.
The Owls are 4-2 all-time against the 49ers, the last a 21-17 winner in 2020 in a game played at FAU Stadium. FAU is 4-5 when playing on a Thursday and 3-0 when playing at Charlotte.
Hagerty Family Head Coach Willie Taggart
On the bye week:
“We used last week to work on basics and fundamental things that we did all the way back in training camp. We looked back at the games that we didn’t play well and a lot of it is fundamentals. We used last week to get back to those things, knowing that we have to be so much better.”
On going on the road to play Charlotte:
“We have to be better fundamentally. I feel like if we can be better fundamentally it is going to help us be better as a football team.”
Update on N’Kosi Perry and Nick Tronti’s health:
“Yes, they will be out at practice.”
What is your biggest concern going into the Charlotte game?
“Biggest concern is us being on our ‘A’ game. It is not about our opponents, which we respect all of them, it is more about can we go out and play consistent football. Can we go and play with the energy and focus that we need to have away from Boca. It is great to get back on the road to see if we can go get it done, knowing that we have to get done on the road against a good football team.”
On the running game, looking back at the last game:
“I think it is a lot of things. First, it is not spotting a team 14 points in the first quarter. I think it starts there first and foremost. We need to play better and not from being behind. You have a better opportunity to get into the run game and get it going. Playing from behind and trying to catch up is not the kind of ball that you want to play. It is not the kind of ball we want to play. Unfortunately, that is how we have been on the road. We have to clean that up first and foremost and I think if we do that, we will be able to run the ball consistently.”
Offensive Coordinator/QBs Michael Johnson
On seeing the younger guys getting more reps in the by week:
“We got back to the fundamentals last week, during the bye. We got a chance to get some of the younger guys’ reps, cleaned up a couple of things that we had to clean up in order to go into this next game. I don’t want to single out anyone in particular but overall, as a group, our younger guys did a good job. I think the veterans got better at some fundamental things that we had to get straightened out in our individual periods and I think it was a good week.”
Last week, did you narrow down things that you do well as an offense and focus on the plays that you do well as opposed to throwing the whole playbook out there?
“We kind of narrowed our focus and focused on some of the things that we do well and on some of the things that we should do well and had to clean up. We got back to the basics of things and made sure we are ready to go this week.”
Did the lack of a run game against UAB start up front?
“Our whole offense starts with our running game. If we do not run the ball effectively, then it puts us behind the eight ball so to speak. If we can run the ball, it opens up other areas for us to go to. We were not able to do that at UAB, so it kind of hurt. That along with the Air Force game were games that we didn’t run the ball the way we wanted to and it kind of put us in a bad light. I think that this week we are focused on certain things, and we feel like going into this game, we should be able to run the ball and we are going to do that, and it will open up other things.”
How good is Charlotte?
“They are aggressive, and they play hard. They are well coached. They are good at what they do, and they are a team that plays well together. They fly around, run to the ball and do certain things that cause you problems. They do a great job of playing defense collectively. We will have to match their intensity and play just as hard as they do or better.”
Redshirt Junior Wide Receiver Brandon Robinson:
On this week’s game:
“Right now, we are just focusing on getting our first road win. It is still conference play. All the games we have left is straight conference games.”
First half of the season has been a bit of a rollercoaster, do you feel you have established an identity as an offense or is it still a little bit of a work in progress?
“We know that it is important that we establish the running game. Our run game and our defense is what is going to win championships. We have to continue to establish that game.”
Being familiar with Charlotte, what do you need to do in order to win?
“Defensively, they have bigger guys in the box. Being able to take control of that box and being able to move them out of the way, so that the running backs can hit the open lane would be the biggest thing for us to control going into this game.”
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