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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 14, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Raymond James Stadium (65,890) -- Tampa, Florida. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: FAU 0-1, USF 0-1. Away Record: FAU 0-1, USF 0-1. Neutral Record: FAU 0-0, USF 0-0. Conference Record: FAU 0-0, USF 0-0. Series Record: USF leads, 3-0.
GAME NOTES: A pair of winless teams from the Sunshine State will square off on Saturday when the Florida Atlantic Owls pay a visit to the South Florida Bulls at Raymond James Stadium.
In Carl Pelini's second season as head coach the Owls have started off with losses in their first two games. The most recent setback was a 31-13 loss to East Carolina in FAU's first league game as a member of Conference USA.
After being one of seven FBS teams to lose to an FCS squad in the opening weekend, South Florida was handed a 21-6 loss by Michigan State in East Lansing this past Saturday. The Bulls are now 0-2 under new head coach Willie Taggart, who came over from Western Kentucky.
These teams have met three times, with each meeting coming since the turn of the century. The Bulls have won each contest, including a 31-3 rout in the most recent matchup during the 2010 season.
FAU is currently near the bottom of Conference USA in total offensive production. The Owls are producing just 266 yards per game though they have been rather balanced. FAU has also struggled to score in the red zone where they have just one touchdown in five trips.
The Owls use a two-headed attack at quarterback. Jaquez Johnson has been the official starter in each game but Greg Hankerson has thrown more passes. Johnson (20-of-34, 145 yards, INT) is used more often for his running ability, while Hankerson (19-of-37, 150 yards, TD, INT) is used as a more traditional passer.
Johnson has 69 yards rushing on the season which is second to just Jonathan Wallace, who has picked up 78 yards. Obviously the run game has struggled with the Owls posting just 237 yards as a team.
Jenson Stoshak has just four catches on the campaign but leads the team with 81 receiving yards. William Dukes (eight receptions, 48 yards) and Wallace (six receptions, 35 yards) have been the most utilized pass catchers.
While scoring fewer than 10 points per game themselves, the Owls are being lit up for 32.5 points per contest on the defensive side of the ball. FAU has also surrendered more than 800 yards of total offense in the first two games, while allowing six touchdowns in 10 red zone chances. FAU has been solid on third down with teams converting just 9-of-27 chances.
Adarius Glanton (16 tackles, one sack) is the star on the defense with his ability to get to ball carrier. Along with Glanton, Damian Parms (12 tackles) is one of six players to have reached the 10-tackle plateau.
The Owls defense won't be facing a particularly stellar offensive squad in USF. The Bulls have been weak on that side of the ball this season, averaging just 248.5 yards per contest. The real problem has been the passing game, where the Bulls are getting just 137.5 yards per game.
Starting quarterback Bobby Eveld has struggled mightily, completing just 35.6 percent of his pass attempts for 203 yards with an interception. Unfortunately there isn't much hope behind him as backup Matt Floyd (9-of-20, 72 yards, two INTs) has been even worse.
The issues in the passing game really hurt Andre Davis, who despite leading the team in receptions (six) and yards (71), has largely been a non-factor in the offense, as have the rest of the Bulls' receivers.
Marcus Shaw is averaging 6.8 yards per carry and has totaled 239 yards already on the ground. Shaw has been the most important player for the offense considering he has five receptions for 47 yards as well. Both of those numbers are second to only Davis.
If there is any hope for the Bulls to salvage the season it is on defense. Though McNeese State ripped the Bulls up to the tune of 424 yards and 53 points, the Bulls bounced back against the Spartans. After holding Michigan State to 265 total yards, the Bulls have shown they can still tighten up on the defensive end.
DeDe Lattimore is making a strong push for all-conference honors early on with an astounding 24 tackles in the first two games. Reshard Cliett (16 tackles, 2.0 TFL) is another strong performer, though the Bulls have struggled to create turnovers or pressure opposing quarterbacks.
Lattimore and the Bulls defense gives USF the best chance to win. That is a nice strength to have against a FAU squad that has been so weak on offense. Assuming the offense can get into more of a rhythm in game three, even if that means leaning heavily on Shaw, the Bulls should take this decision.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Florida 24, Florida Atlantic 10
09/11 10:40:54 ET
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