FAU traveled to Detroit to play as the home team at Ford Field against Michigan State University on Saturday, Sept. 11th. It was a game in which they had a small window of opportunity to tie it up late in the fourth quarter, but completely baffled fans with the most backwards attitude and play calling I’ve ever seen from this football program.
MSU got a 10-0 head start early in the first quarter. The Spartan offense scored quickly and tired out the Owl defense. FAU’s game plan seemed sporadic as they only gave running back Alfred Morris 20 touches the entire game. Morris was essentially a ghost as he only scored on a two yard touchdown sprint late in the first quarter. Morris finished the day with only 57 yards. MSU effectively shut down the running game for FAU.
Thus the Owls took to the skies and put the ball in the hands of quarterback Jeff Van Camp, who’s performance would have been better had the receivers had the chance to make a play. Van Camp finished the day 23-35 for 215 yards and a touchdown. The MSU defense caught on to the Owls game plan rather quickly. The only real good thing they had going for them was that they took at least ten minuets off the clock every time they marched down field to score. A strategy that would have work wonderfully had MSU not taken only seconds to score on their drives. On top of that, penalties killed any chance of success. There were simply too many penalties being called on FAU, especially false starts. This was simply a game of defense and FAU got out played. At one point, the entire Owls defensive like was called for off sides.
Coming into the second half of the game with a 20-7 lead, MSU continued their onslaught as running back Edwin Baker rushed for a massive 80 yard touchdown. Then, kicker Dan Conroy was on fire as he nailed a 41 yard field goal followed by a 50 yarder. FAU finally found the motivation they needed when corner back Tarvoris Hill intercepted a pass in the end zone. However, the excitement was short lived as MSU recovered a fumble by Van Camp on the MSU 26 yard line.
Late in the fourth quarter came the most odd play calling I’ve ever seen from FAU. The Owls recovered a fumble by MSU running back Le’Veon Bell on the MSU 43 yard line followed by a 40 yard bomb to wide receiver Lester Jean, giving the Owls a chance to score. However, the coaches decided to remove Van Camp from the game and put in the third string quarterback Graham Wilbert. Continuing the confusion, instead of going for the touchdown on fourth down, FAU decided to go for a field goal followed by a squib kick instead of the onside attempt resulting in the game ending 30-17. Their reason for giving up the game: they wanted to give Wilbert some experience playing. I can understand wanting to do this in a game that you are winning by a lot, or even a game that is really out of your reach at winning, but this was not the case here. First FAU wasted massive time by trying to run the ball for a touchdown and not hurrying up the offense when they failed. This was purely a decision by the coaches as the players on the sidelines looks infuriated. Tight end Rob Housler even threw his helmet down on the sidelines in frustration. If FAU is willing to give up in a game like this, then I am seriously concerned for the remainder of their season.
Bottom Line: FAU’s defense was unable to stay on the field long enough. Penalties were a killer, as they mostly went in favor of MSU. The offense was spread thin and ran out of options. The running game was shut down and the passing game was weak. Van Camp did his best to try and spread the ball around but it just wasn’t enough for this MSU defense. The Owls decision to go for the field goal instead of the touchdown was baffling. I am worried that they will give up like that in future games where the score might be even closer.
FAU plays their first home game against the University of North Texas on Saturday, Sept. 25th at Lockhart Stadium.
For more coverage one this game visit upressonline.com
About the Author
Written by Mark Gibson
Mark Gibson is a senior media communications major at Florida Atlantic University. He is a staff reporter who covers sports and entertainment for the FAU student Newspaper, University Press. He also runs a podcast and website that reviews video games and new electronics. On his downtime, he loves playing his guitar and currently plays bass in a local band.