Florida Atlantic Owls Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Florida Atlantic season with what you need to know and keys to the season.
Florida Atlantic Owls Preview
Head Coach: Willie Taggart, 3rd year at Florida Atlantic, 10-11
13th year overall, 66-73: 2021 Preview
2021 Record: Overall: 5-7, Conference: 3-5
Keys To The Season | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Florida Atlantic Top 10 Players | FAU Schedule
Florida Atlantic Owls Preview 2022
It all needs to kick in for Willie Taggart and Florida Atlantic.
There was a misfire season in the mix, but Lane Kiffin came up with a few monster seasons, and it wasn’t supposed to be a big pivot to Taggart, a terrific builder of programs who didn’t get any semblance of a break or time to operate at Florida State.
But FAU didn’t need any rebuilding or a whole lot of work two years ago, and a collapse of a final month in 2021 was a problem.
Everything was rolling along with an okay 5-3 season and four games to go to get bowl eligible, but the offense flopped in November, the defense struggled, and four double-digit losses – hurt most by the 27-17 home season finale against Middle Tennessee – made it three losing seasons in the last four for Taggart since leaving Oregon.
Fortunately, the 2022 Owls are loaded with veterans, a few nice parts from the transfer portal beefed up the depth, and with all the changes in Conference USA, the opportunity is there to fill the void and become the league’s powerhouse again.
Florida Atlantic Owls Preview 2022: Offense
The offense died when it needed to kick in. Overall, there wasn’t a problem moving the chains – the Owls were great on third downs, but the style of attack means they only had the ball for around 27 minutes a game – but the pass protection wasn’t there and the running game was painfully inconsistent. But …
The offensive line is loaded with veterans. It wasn’t a great group last year, but four starters are back, there’s decent depth and Brendan Bordner is coming in from Rutgers to work on the left side – that allows some shuffling to get the five best players up front. Now they need to do more for the ground game.
Johnny Ford averaged over six yards per carry with a team-high 831 yards, and Nebraska transfer Marvin Scott comes in to add even more speed.
Former Miami Hurricane N’Kosi Perry was fine as the starting quarterback. He threw for close to 2,800 yards with 20 touchdowns and seven picks, and now he knows the offense and should settle in. The receivers are there to help.
LaJohntay Wester led the way with 65 catches, but junior Je’Quan Burton is the explosive playmaker averaging over 18 yards per grab. More options have to emerge, but there are plenty of good-sized targets looking to get more work.
Florida Atlantic Owls Preview 2022: Defense
The defense might have struggled late, but it had its moments. It was the best in Conference USA on third downs, it did a great job of bending but not breaking, and it only allowed more than 165 rushing yards against Florida and Air Force.
There should be a good improvement with a whole lot of experience back up front and the transfer portal providing plenty of instant help, starting with …
The linebacking corps got a boost with Jamie Pettway coming in from Missouri and Tennessee’s Morven Joseph playing in a hybrid role in the rotation. They’ll go along with veteran Eddie Williams – a safety-sized outside defender – and 245-pound Chris Jones adding some thump.
The pass rush has to show up from somewhere. There were just 17 sacks with four to them coming in the finale against Middle Tennessee State. Jaylen Joyner only came up with four sacks, but that was enough to lead the team. He’s back at one end, and big 356-pound Evan Anderson managed to come up with a team high eight tackles for loss on the nose.
The secondary is the biggest problem with the loss of New York Giant Zyon Gilbert at one corner and several other key parts gone.
On the plus side, Teja Young is one of the best safeties in Conference USA – third on the team with 59 tackles and with a team-high three picks – and all the really, really young players from last year should be ready to fill in.