FAU to push pace vs. Herd
BOCA RATON, Fla. — Marshall University faces a Florida Atlantic University team Friday that is happy keeping the football on the ground.
The FAU Owls are one of the top teams nationally in rushing, averaging 296 yards per game.
Normally, when someone thinks of a team with a strong ground game, they think of an offense that is methodical in the way it moves the ball. That couldn’t be farther from the truth for the Owls (5-3, 4-0 Conference USA) under head coach Lane Kiffin.
The Owls want to go as fast as possible, which results in a tired defense with an offensive line beating down consistently on a defensive front.
“It’s hard,” Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said. ”(Monday), we took two different sets of skill guys and got as fast as we can. They do a good job with their pace.”
FAU is going to push the tempo at each turn possible, challenging the Marshall defense and not allowing the Thundering Herd (6-2, 3-1 C-USA) to get set.
Not only will Marshall’s defense be called on to slow down the fast-paced attack of the Owls, but the Herd offense will also play a key role in slowing that offense down, The Owls presumably cannot score if quarterback Jason Driskel and running backs Devin Singletary are watching the game from the sideline.
MARSHALL (6-2, 3-1 C-USA) AT FAU (5-3, 4-0 C-USA)
WHEN: 6 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Boca Raton, Fla.
TV: CBS Sports Network
RADIO: WDGG 93.7-FM
Marshall’s offense might be the best defense for the Herd when the teams line up at 6 p.m. Friday at FAU Stadium.
The Herd has done a good job of working the clock and converting third downs this season, which has led to a sizable time of possession advantage. Marshall is second in C-USA in time of possession, averaging 31:24 per game. The Owls are dead-last in the league, only maintaining possession for 26:40.
Despite being last in time of possession, the Owls lead C-USA in scoring average at 39.5 per game. FAU’s pace tends to wear down the opposition in the second half, which leads to big spurts at the end of games.
That was never more present than last week when the Owls trailed 28-20 going into the fourth quarter on the road against Western Kentucky. FAU stayed the course, using its fast-paced tempo and a defense that forced key turnovers to outscore WKU, 22-0, in the fourth en route to a 42-28 win.
All season long, it has been the Marshall defense that has carried the team. This week is a chance for the offense to return the favor.
For Marshall, the key number this week is 35. If Marshall has possession for 35 minutes or more, the Herd should find itself in the ball game. Failure to do so may have the Owls running away with a win and a stranglehold on the C-USA East Division title.