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UTEP at FAU Q&A With Underdog Dynasty

Underdog Dynasty’s Staff Editor and FAU Alum Cyrus Smith gives us the breakdown on the Owls.

NCAA Football: Western Kentucky at Florida Atlantic Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Miner Rush: Looking at the offense, where have the main struggles been for this FAU offensive unit?

Cyrus Smith: New offensive coordinator Travis Trickett has tried to implement an uptempo spread offense and since the first game of the season it’s looked out-of-sync. The offensive line hasn’t helped as they have been abysmal this season and a lot has been due to injuries. I believe FAU is on their 8th different starting lineup along the offensive line. But the offense’s woes doesn’t stop there. Jason Driskel is a below-average starting quarterback. He’s passed for 1672 yards with 6 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He struggles with accuracy when trying to hit the big play down the field and he will often look to his check down receivers.

How will Devin Singletary's recent emergence play a factor this week against UTEP?

Devin Singletary has been the cornerstone from last year’s recruiting class as the former Illinois commit is FAU’s most dynamic running back. But his touches have been inconsistent on a game-to-game basis. Against FIU he touched the ball 17 times for 86 yards and a touchdown. The next week against Charlotte he touched the ball 10 times for 42 yards. Last week’s 23 carries was the most he’s gotten this year but I still expect him to split carries with Greg Howell going into this week’s game.

Trey Henderickson is flat out raw, who else does UTEP need to key on defensively this week?

Ocie Rose and Jalen Young are FAU’s two biggest names in the secondary and their best playmakers.

UTEP does a good job making you earn yards through the air, where is the strength in FAU's passing game?

Advanced stats would say that FAU is extremely dangerous at getting big plays through the air but poor at completing short passes. FAU ranks 40th in Passing IsoPPP which generates explosive pass plays but that stat is inflated as most of Driskel’s long completions have been by receivers who did most of the work with YAC. This has typically been through screens or quick slants. Henry Bussey is usually the recipient of those type of passing plays and this year he’s caught 20 passes for 238 yards and 1 touchdown. Kalib Woods is the best receiver. He has 47 catches for 640 yards and 1 touchdown as he has been targeted a team-high 27.5%. Bussey is the closest targeted receiver at 13.7%.

What do see Aaron Jones doing against FAU's defense?

I see UTEP’s rushing attack being really successful. FAU ranks near the bottom in nearly every advanced stat. The only two FBS teams that didn’t rush for over 200 yards against the Owls was Marshall and Rice. I can only imagine what the best running back in Conference USA is going to do to their rushing defense.

Is patience running thin among fans with the job Charlie Partridge has done so far?

Absolutely. Charlie Partridge is on the hot seat. After back-to-back 3-9 seasons many Owl fans wanted to see tangible evidence that the program was headed in the right direction in the win column. S&P+ projected 5.9 wins for FAU before the season started and I thought that was about right. The only way I would have viewed this season a success is if FAU went to a bowl game. After all the talent he inherited, and as good as he’s been recruiting, eight wins in two-plus seasons isn’t enough. Due to his contract being guaranteed and the lack of money (and boosters for that matter) the school has he will be back no matter what next year.

One stat, and score prediction?

UTEP & FAU will combine to rush for over 450 yards. UTEP wins 35-28.