Air Force Non-Conference Preview: Florida Atlantic Owls
The Air Force Falcons will head south to take on Lane Kiffin’s defending Conference USA champions.
Can the Falcons slow down the Lane Train?
Location: Boca Raton, Florida
Mascot: Owlsley the Owl
Conference: Conference USA
2017 Record: 11-3 (8-0 CUSA)
Head Coach: Lane Kiffin (11-3 FAU, 46-24 overall) is entering his second season at Florida Atlantic. It will be hard to beat his first season in Boca Raton, as the Owls were Conference USA champions. They started off 1-3 and then proceeded to reel off 10 wins in a row.
RB Devin Singletary
Singletary rushed for 1,920 yards and had 32 touchdowns. With a new quarterback under center, it’s safe to say that Singletary will carry the workload especially early in the season.
TE Harrison Bryant
A big target that is only getting better, as the 6’5″ junior had 32 catches for 408 yards and five touchdowns. Look for him to come off play action into the flat after a heavy dose of Singletary. His size and experience make him a new QB’s best friend.
SS Jalen Young
Young led CUSA last season with seven interceptions and FAU had 20 total INTs last year. The defensive backs had 19 of those.
LB Azeez Al-Shaair
Al-Shaair is a four-year starter and was the leading tackler last year in CUSA with 143 stops. He also had 10.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks, establishing himself as the leader of the top LB group in CUSA.
This unit will probably be led by Singletary for the entire season, or at least until a quarterback emerges from the battle between sophomore Chris Robison and junior De’Andre Johnson. Only five starters return from a group that averaged 45 points a game last season. It will be hard to top, but if we know anything about Lane Kiffin it’s that he’s an offensive guru.
This group will be one of the better ones in CUSA and probably a top-50 defense in the country. Ten starters return, and by Bill Connelly’s measures of returning production, the Owls rank 8th in the country on this side of the ball.
This game is currently scheduled to kick off at 2:00 PM EST. In early September, you can be assured of high humidity and a possible thunderstorm, which could make for a wet football and a possible delay in the action. FAU was +13 in the turnover department a year ago and the Falcons struggled in that regard, turning the ball over 20 times.
The two things going for Air Force are 1) this is the second week of the season, which means a short week for the FAU to get ready for a triple option attack and 2) Air Force is going to eat up clock which means that the high powered FAU offense will have limited amount of possessions. In the end, though, FAU at home may be too much to overcome. FAU 34 – AF 27