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FAU Head Coach Charlie Partridge Is Fully Focused On UTEP

Here is what FAU head coach Charlie Partridge said about Saturday's matchup with UTEP.

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

On UTEP…

I really have a ton of respect for this head coach [Sean Kugler]. He worked with the Steelers when I was at Pitt. We worked in the same building. I tried to recruit his son [Patrick] at Wisconsin, but he ended up going to Michigan from North Allegheny, there in Pittsburgh”.

“His [Sean Kugler] personality shows up in this football team at UTEP. Defensively, they are a 3-4 defense and we haven’t seen that a lot, that creates a challenge we will have to work on."

"#16 Alvin Jones is a tremendous player, maybe one of the best linebackers in the league, and their passing defense ranks second in the league, so that creates challenges."

"On offense, a talented wide receiver #11 [Cole Freytag] runs really good routes, [has] good speed and [his] ball skills are impressive. #85 [Hayden Plinke], a transfer from Portland State, a tight end, has good size. He is listed around 6-4, 265 and again [has] good ball skills. He is a challenge."

"Really their offense starts with their O-line and #29 [Aaron Jones] at running back who has 1,200 [1,168] yards. So, we are working on that. They are a shift-trade motion team. They do a lot of that before the snap."

"From a style standpoint, that is a lot different from what we have seen. So, we have a lot of work ahead of us this week and we are deep into that preparation, as coaches. We will get deep into it with the players tomorrow. [UTEP has a] tremendous punt returner and punt return unit. They are up there in the league as well and their kickoff unit is as good as it gets, fast [and] physical. I watched it last night. We have a challenge there."

On preparing for UTEP's pre-snap motions on offense

"It is critical. They will get into unbalanced sets. They will have what coaches often refer to as explosions, when multiple people shift to a formation and then add a motion in. There is a lot of rules involved to make sure your defensive players fit in the right spots. Teams that do this Paul Chryst [Wisconsin] did it a lot when I was with him. It was part of his style. They do it a lot at Stanford. They know what they are looking for. In another words after the shift-trade motion, once they see your adjustment or lack thereof to that, they attack something. If you don’t show that you can handle the adjustment, it is a big deal."

FAU running back Devin Singletary had a breakout game last week against Rice

"It was a heck of a performance. And, you could see signs of a potential day like this coming with him. You think back to that screen [that] we had with him a couple of weeks ago against Marshall. It was a big play and all the people he made miss - the catches that he has made. Again, the O-line really opened up some holes. They got him started and then he was able, at the second and third level, to do some additional things. Now that last touchdown, they had it stopped in the backfield, but again, and “Motor” would say the same thing, when he did bounce outside - to see guys straining down field, our wide receiver group had one of their better performances, collectively, as I have seen – blocking, catching from that standpoint. There is a lot of factors that came into play."

On facing Aaron Jones

He is explosive and full speed in the first or second step, which you don’t see to that degree often. He is fast and he gets to full speed quickly. He is scary downhill. We have to do a great job with our gap integrity so that we do our best to make him run east and west as best as we can, so that he can’t get a downhill start on us. That takes gap integrity because he can get up on your third level in a hurry, if you have issues with guys up front getting out of their assignment.

Do you talk about UTEP being a step?

No, just beat UTEP with everything we can. Beat UTEP that is it. It is what we have been doing all year.