Florida Atlantic soared to new heights under Lane Kiffin in 2019 when the Owls were 11-3. Then the Lane Train went to the SEC. The Owls have not been able to replicate that success in the past three seasons.
Florida Atlantic has now departed the Conference USA and resides in the tougher (at least in 2023) American Athletic Conference. Can the Owls fly to the top of the AAC in their first year, with a first-year head coach? We attack that question and invite you this week to keep up with the best coverage of the AAC available by following us at FanBuzz.com
The New Coach Takes Flight
Tom Herman has had success at the University of Houston and at Texas, even though Longhorn fans may disagree. Herman piled up a 22-4 record at the University of Houston, leading the Cougars to an AAC title and Peach Bowl win in 2015. He was then hired at the University of Texas. With the Longhorns, Herman compiled a 32-18 record, along with a Sugar Bowl win in 2018. Coach Herman has already seen what it takes to be successful in the American Athletic Conference. During media days he spoke of how much the players at FAU have made "coaching fun again". With 18 starters back on this team, Coach Herman could be having a lot of fun at the expense of his opponents in the AAC.
The Offense has Fliers
The offense for the Owls has playmakers all around over the place. Larry McCammon III will be the main focus and the cause for loss of sleep for defensive coordinators around the AAC. McCammon ran for 1,004 yards and seven touchdowns last season while averaging 5.2 yards per carry. All that success was rewarded when he was named first-team all-conference. McCammon is the top running back returning in the AAC in 2023. The Owls have a veteran offensive line — four starters back — that will be able to open up running lanes. The Owls will return their top wide receiver from last season LaJohntay Wester. Wester had 62 receptions for 719 yards and eight touchdowns. Whoever the QB is this fall will have plenty of weapons to distribute the ball to.
The Battle at QB
Fall camp starts Aug. 2nd for FAU, and they have a true QB battle on their hands. The Owls added two QBs in the transfer portal this past spring. Casey Thompson from Nebraska and Daniel Richardson from Central Michigan. Last season with the Cornhuskers, Thompson threw for 17 touchdowns and 2,407 yards, with a completion rate of 63%. Last year at Central Michigan, Richardson threw for 1,988 yards and 15 touchdowns. Thompson was with Herman during his time at Texas (18-20). Richardson has had more time in the offense since he played in the FAU spring game. Coach Herman could let this quarterback competition play into the first game of the season which is against FCS Monmouth.
FAU Toughest Games in 2023
FAU will face Tulane and UTSA this season in conference play. Tulane was picked first and UTSA was picked second in the preseason media poll. FAU will get both teams at home in Boca Raton, a significant advantage when you talk about playing the defending AAC champ and two-time defending C-USA champ. FAU will play host to UTSA on Oct. 21 and Tulane on Nov. 18. The last time FAU played Tulane was in 2013, a 34-17 win for the Owls. This will be the first matchup between UTSA and FAU since 2020.
Predictions From The Nach
The Florida Atlantic Owls have 18 starters back and playmakers all over the field. They have a proven coach and this team could do damage in its first year in the AAC. A bowl game feels more like a guarantee than a question. The defense has 10 starters back and could improve on its numbers from last season giving up 26.6 ppg, while allowing 425 ypg. What could determine a great season from a good season will be the results of the UTSA and Tulane matchups. There are no divisions in the AAC this year. The top two teams (record-wise) meet in the title game at the highest seed. FAU is a top-four team in the AAC and will be a factor late in the year to get a spot in the AAC Title game.
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