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FAU at UTEP: Four Owls and a position group to watch

FAU has been struggling for wins, but their record sort of hides the talent down in Boca.

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

The FAU Owls come into the Sun Bowl on Saturday with a 1-5 record that easily could be very different in a winning way with a few bounces here and there.

The Owls boast one of more versatile quarterbacks, and one of the best defensive backs in the C-USA world, and here is who UTEP has to have eyes on throughout Saturday evening's contest.

Jaquez Johnson, Quarterback

Sean Kugler called Johnson a bigger version of Jameill Showers, with the dual-threat abilities to pick you apart and rack up yards.

Johnson is averaging 6.1 yards per pass attempt on the season, he has completed 58.7 percent of his passes, and he's also third in school history with 4,758 career passing yards.

FAU's passing IsoPPP which measures explosive plays in the passing game ranks just 91st in the nation this season, but Johnson's fullback esque running style is the bigger issue the UTEP defense will face.

Johnson is sacked on 8.9% of his pass attempts, but has the third highest opportunity rate on the team when it comes to breaking a big play on designed runs.  FAU will utilize the zone-read out of the pistol, and use heavy play action to open up the pass game when Johnson is in at quarterback.

UTEP has had a number of missed sacks over the past couple of weeks and if the UTEP defense whiffs on a clear shot for minus yardage, Johnson will make them pay.

Six different FAU receivers have double digit catches on the season, so staying sound off play action reads, and covering FAU's skill guys with some controlled physicality will be a big key in not allowing big plays in the pass game.

Being sound in blitz fits, with sharp pursuit angles has to be executed against FAU's versatile playmaker under center.  He's been battling an ankle injury the past couple of weeks, but reports say he could be fully healthy this week.

Trevon Coley, Defensive tackle

Coley has started every game since he stepped on the FAU campus; the senior is second on the team with 4.5 sacks on the season.

At 6'2, 300 pounds, the talented senior has provided major production from the defensive tackle spot.  He accounts for 7.1% of FAU's tackles, and has 6.5 tackles for loss.

FAU's havoc rate along the defensive line is at an impressive 5.5% in large part thanks to Coley.  I would be shocked if Coley isn't on an NFL roster next spring.

UTEP's offensive line has struggled mightily in the past two weeks, and things won't get easier with big #11 lining up across the trenches.

Kamrin Solomon, Wide receiver

His stats don't say All C-USA lock, but his explosive, big play capability should be a huge concern for Scott Stoker's group.

He has a long of 94 yards, and seven of his 13 catches have been longer than 15 yards this season and  he is also averaging 18.5 yards per target on the season.

Solomon has only been targeted 15 times this year with a catch rate of 86.7%.   Thinking outside of the box of statistical leaders lands Solomon on this watch list for Saturday.  If I were FAU's offensive coordinator, I would have a few plays drawn up in his direction against UTEP's struggling secondary.

UTEP has struggled against big play receivers, and the sophomore along with five other FAU receivers who have been targeted over 20 times this season could be in for a big day if the Miner secondary doesn't show any improvement as a whole.

Cre'von LeBlanc, Cornerback

A surefire NFL prospect, LeBlanc could be the most talent defensive back to do his thing on the Sun Bowl turf in 2015.

LeBlanc has been described by NFL Scouts as a physical cover corner, who is a sure tackler that can pretty much do it all from man coverage, to stepping up in the run game.

He has five career interceptions and leads the team with six pass break ups on the year.  He can also cause problems in the return game as he averages 6.0 yards per punt return, and 20 yards per kick return this season.

Tyler Batson and Autrey Golden will more than likely draw LeBlanc, who is a guy that can change the game and shut down a portion of the field, and even more so with UTEP's struggling offensive woes.

FAU's Secondary is pretty stacked

FAU's secondary has picked off 10 total passes which ranks 13th in the nation this season, and will make offense hard to come by if UTEP doesn't find any creativity in their passing game plan.

LeBlanc is the outside anchor, but the emergence of freshman Ocie Rose has almost made the FAU secondary a true no fly zone. Rose has three interceptions and had a 95-yard pick six last week against Marshall, and should evolve into FAU's next big time NFL prospect out of the secondary.

As a unit, FIU is breaking up, or forcing incomplete passes 41% of the time, while the national average in that department is 32.6%. Yikes.

Another freshman and starting free safety Jalen Young has two interceptions, and a forced fumble.  6'2 corner Herb Miller has five pass break ups and has also recorded an INT.  Young will be suspended for the first half after being ejected for targeting last week against Marshall.

Third down is where this unit makes their money as opposing quarterbacks have completed just 47.9 percent of their pass attempts on third down.  Teams are 1/8 passing for just seven yards on third-and-7-9 to go on the season, so the Miners will be in some big trouble if their early down play calling repeatedly leads to these situations.