FACTS & STATS: Site: FAU Stadium (30,000) — Boca Raton, Florida.
Television: MyTVZ33, Sinclair. Home Record: ODU 4-2, FAU 3-1. Away Record: ODU
1-4, FAU 0-7. Neutral Record: ODU 0-0, FAU 0-0. Conference Record: ODU 3-4,
FAU 2-5. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Old Dominion Monarchs will try to earn bowl eligibility in the
final game of the regular season when they take on the Florida Atlantic Owls
in Conference USA action at FAU Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
After losing five straight from late September through early November, ODU
salvaged its season with back-to-back wins over FIU (38-35) and Louisiana Tech
(30-27 in OT) to pull to 5-6 overall and 3-4 in league play. The Monarchs
haven’t fared well on the road, however, winning just one of five matchups
away from home.
FAU has endured a difficult season at just 3-8 overall and 2-5 in league
action, and its 35-34 setback at Middle Tennessee last Saturday extended its
losing streak to four games. The silver lining for this contest is at least
the Owls have performed much better at home (3-1) than on the road (0-7).
This marks the first-ever meeting between the squads.
Most of ODU’s success this season has come thanks to its impressive offensive
attack, which puts up 32.8 ppg and 437.7 ypg. The unit tied last week’s game
with Louisiana Tech in the fourth quarter on a 16-yard touchdown run by Cam
Boyd and eventually won in overtime on Taylor Heinicke’s second touchdown pass
of the game.
Heinicke orchestrates the pass-first offense to strong results, as he
completes 63.5 percent of his throws for 3,194 yards with 27 touchdowns and 13
Heinicke has a handful of trusty receivers to throw to. Antonio Vaughan is the
preferred deep threat with 975 yards and 11 touchdowns on 57 receptions (17.1
ypc). Zach Pascal (55 receptions, 709 yards, six TDs) and David Washington (40
receptions, 529 yards, four TDs) are also in the midst of stellar campaigns.
Ray Lawry (109 carries, 734 yards) and Gerard Johnson (100 carries, 493 yards,
TD) split time evenly in the backfield, but while Johnson has just one
touchdown, Lawry has been an outstanding finisher with 15 scores.
The Monarchs’ downfall this season has been the porous play of the defense
(38.9 ppg, 462.4 ypg), although last week they stepped up their play by
holding Louisiana Tech to a mere 326 yards.
D.J. Simon is one of the few defensive playmakers of note with 83 tackles,
10.5 TFL, a sack and two forced fumbles. Fellonte Misher (75 tackles, two
INTs) and T.J. Ricks (72 tackles, 7.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks, four FF) have also been
FAU’s down season can be largely attributed to a lackluster offense, which
puts up 23.6 ppg and 365.2 ypg. Its 34-point effort against Middle Tennessee
was its best in more than a month, but it still wasn’t good enough to win.
Despite the team’s struggles, Jaquez Johnson is having a solid dual-threat
season under center. He’s completing 58.4 percent of his passes for 2,082
yards with 17 touchdowns to only five interceptions while rushing for an
additional 443 yards and three scores.
Lucky Whitehead is usually Johnson’s top target with 73 receptions, 678 yards
and six touchdowns, all team highs. Jenson Stoshak (35 receptions, 493 yards,
two TDs) stepped up his play last week with nine catches for 93 yards.
Jay Warren sits atop the tailback depth chart and has turned 111 carries into
536 yards, but he’s scored just one touchdown.
The Owls’ defense isn’t put in the best position to succeed trying to support
a low-scoring offense, but the unit has still failed to meet expectations in
allowing 34.7 ppg and 458.3 ypg.
Andrae Kirk is not only the team’s top tackler with 91 but he’s also racked up
12.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble. Damian Parms (78
tackles), Crevon LeBlanc (68 tackles, two INTs) and Trey Hendrickson (11.0
TFL, 5.0 sacks) are the other defensive standouts.
Although FAU’s solid home record matched up against ODU’s struggles on the
road could mean good things for the Owls, the Monarchs are simply playing much
better of late and should find a way to pull this one out, especially with
bowl eligibility looming.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Old Dominion 37, Florida Atlantic 34