Will Air Force Avenge their 2018 Loss to FAU?
Battle of the Birds: Falcons vs. Owls
The Owls Visit Colorado Springs
For only the second time ever, Air Force and FAU will meet on the on the gridiron, on September 25th. The first time these two programs met was in 2018, Boca Raton, Florida, where the Owls carved up the Falcons secondary for an FAU record 471 yards and three touchdowns on the arm of then freshman, Chris Robison.
After abbreviated campaigns during last seasons pandemic mired season, both teams will be looking forward to a full schedule that includes this out of conference matchup, in 2021.
Location: Falcon Stadium- Colorado Springs, CO
2020 Record: 5-4 (4-2 C-USA)
Head Coach: Willie Taggart; 2nd Season 5-4* Includes Bowl Game (4-2 CUSA)
Series History: Air Force 0 Wins- FAU- 1 Win
The 2020 Owls got off to a very strong start to the season, winning five of their first six contests. This hot start included a four game win streak that placed them in the hunt for a Conference USA title.
They fared pretty well in Conference Play (C-USA), closing out with a 4-2 record. They earned a Bowl bid, which landed them in a game against the Memphis Tigers, and consequently concluded their season with a loss. That Bowl game defeat ran their losing streak to three, to close out the year. Drastically different than the way it had started.
Despite an overall winning record (5-4), FAU didn’t feature a particularly explosive offense, averaging under 19 points per game on the season. Their defense on the other hand was formidable surrendering just 17.4 points per game.
— FAU Football (@FAUFootball) May 29, 2021
FAU 2021 Outlook:
This years rendition of the FAU Owls will hope to return to the type of success they had under previous coach, Lane Kiffin. Between the transfer portal and an appetite to place FAU in the media, Kiffin did a great job of promoting the University’s “Brand”. Something that shouldn’t be all that difficult to do when you consider their beautiful Boca Raton, Florida location.
If they want to have that kind of success on the field again though, it will require more point production from the offense for sure. At quarterback, Nick Tronti and Javion Posey both played last year, and figure to factor in this season as well. Where it gets really interesting in the QB room, the Owls have added former Miami Hurricanes signal caller, N’Kosi Perry also.
The point production could also get some help on the ground from incoming USF transfer running back, Johnny Ford, who brings over 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns to the mix. At receiver, FAU lured a former prized commit from my alma mater, Penn State, by way of John Dunmore to bolster the receiving corp.
The passing game is an area in particular where they need to get better. The running game was solid, and looks to even be better with this years additions. But real estate to run could get a lot more widely available if the offense is able to apply some pressure through the air.
Defensively, this team should be solid returning a lot of production. There are three All-Conference players returning to the secondary, and overall the defense returns all but one of its top 14 tacklers from a year ago. Not a bad situation to find yourself come fall.
Final Thoughts and Prediction:
With Chris Robison gone, the threat of getting nearly 500 yards hung on them shouldn’t loom in Air Force’s rematch with the Owls this fall. At least, if 2020 was any indication, that kind of production would take nearly three games worth of net passing. Similar parameters you would look for from the Falcon’s pass attack.
The running game on the other hand, looks to be the focus of both clubs. It’s no secret that the Falcon’s are going to run the ball down after down. But FAU did a good job in that area last year as well, and its fair to expect another strong, if not even better ground game from them.
Even though Robison, who had the largest impact on the 2018 outcome won’t be there, that doesn’t mean there aren’t others from that game who won’t take the field this fall. For Air Force, Lakota Wills and Jordan Jackson both played in their first matchup, and each recorded a TFL. Wills also scored a touchdown, cashing in on a blocked kick. Both should play significant roles this season, and that includes their tilt against FAU.
The key differentiator in all of this could specifically, how Air Force runs the ball, though. Even with a good FAU defense, the triple option attack that the Falcons run is problematic, even for established defenses. On the defensive side of the ball for Air Force, stopping the run has been their calling card, and the strength of this personnel group would indicate rush yards will not come easy.
This could be a sneaky good game to close out the September schedule. The unique nature of their scheme in tandem with the way their offensive philosophy affects all other aspects of the game should give Air Force the edge.
Final Score Prediction: Air Force 27 – Florida Atlantic 20