Confused? Check out the advanced-stats glossary here.
1. Time to leap/fly?
"The first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, the third year it leaps."
Heading into his third season at ULM, former Warhawks head coach Todd Berry provided one of my favorite quotes. Ultimately he couldn't sustain the success he found, but Berry laid the template for how to put the pieces together over the course of three years. ULM went 9-15 in his first two seasons but broke through with eight wins and the program's first ever bowl bid in year three.
The premise is simple: In the first year, you're just trying to figure out what you've got. You're inheriting a set of demoralized athletes who probably didn't do very well the year before, you're moving pieces around, and you're trying to figure out exactly how much of your vision you can unveil.
In year two, you've got more of the pieces where you want them, but they're still developing, and you still don't have that many of your own recruits on the two-deep (or if you do, they're redshirt freshmen or sophomores). In year three, things begin to fall into place. The depth chart is a mix of fourth- and fifth-year players and your guys, and you finally have the depth and the type of talent you have been looking for.
It makes perfect sense on paper, but it obviously doesn't always play out this way. Sometimes injuries or defections slow you down. Or sometimes things click immediately, and you don't have to wait until the third year. But for Charlie Partridge and FAU, this is the template to strive for.
When FAU chose Partridge over Brian Wright in 2014, it was clear the Owls were aiming for upside. Wright had gone 4-0 as FAU's interim coach in 2013, and no one would have blamed the school for simply keeping him on board. But Partridge was known as a phenomenal recruiter, one who might be able to bring in a level of talent unseen in most C-USA programs. As a head coach, he was a completely unknown quantity, but the potential was tantalizing.
Two years in, Partridge is 6-18. His teams have played good pass defense, and in 2015 the pass offense took a decent step forward. But the Owls figured out incredibly creative ways to lose games last fall, and any semblance of progress was tainted by close losses and a second straight 3-9 record.
Now comes year three. Sophomores have become juniors in the skill positions, the lines are as experienced as they've been in a long time, and freshmen have become sophomores in a high-ceiling secondary. The Owls are projected to win six games, and as many as eight or nine are winnable. As with FIU (and every other mid- or lower-tier C-USA team, for that matter), there is opportunity on the table for Partridge's Owls. Do they leap (or, uh, fly)?
2015 Schedule & Results
|Record: 3-9 | Adj. Record: 3-9 | Final F/+ Rk: 96 | Final S&P+ Rk: 93|
|Date||Opponent||Opp. F/+ Rk||Score||W-L||Percentile
|7-Nov||at Western Kentucky||15||19-35||L||17%||0%||+2.5||+8.0|
|28-Nov||at Old Dominion||117||33-31||W||39%||56%||-2.4||-2.0|
|Points Per Game||22.5||105||28.8||83|
2. Figuring out creative ways to drop games
The wins could come in September, though. FAU plays four teams that ranked 108th or worse in F/+ last season, but three pop up in the first four games of the year (and two are on the road). If the Owls start slow or play as poorly away from home as they did last year, they might be destined for another 3-9 campaign.
I was close. I got the record right but the causes wrong: The Owls just couldn't get out of their own damn way early on.
The win expectancy figure above is intended to look at a given game's key stats and announce that, with these stats, a team could have expected to win the game X percent of the time. It is a good way of looking at teams that fell victim to or were boosted by randomness. It isn't luck, per say; it's simply a look at who rolled snake eyes more than others.
- Win expectancy said FAU would have beaten Tulsa 41 percent of the time (thanks to a field position advantage and the Owls' recovery of three of four fumbles) and Rice 46 percent of the time (thanks to per-play superiority and blown Rice opportunities). The Owls lost both games by a combined four points.
- Win expectancy said FAU would have beaten Buffalo 81 percent of the time; the Owls outgained the Bulls by 0.9 yards per play and 200 total yards. They managed to lose by 18 because of THREE return touchdowns.
- Win expectancy said FAU would have beaten UTEP 58 percent of the time; the Owls outgained the Miners by 1.6 yards per play. They Owls lost by 10.
FAU was putting itself in position to beat fellow mid-majors. Plus, the Owls trailed Miami by only three at halftime before fading. FAU had all the components of an improving team except one: results. But over the second half of the season, the results and performance began to match up a bit better.
- First 7 games
Expected wins: 3.29 | Actual wins: 1 | Average percentile performance: 38.9%
- Last 5 games
Expected wins: 1.74 | Actual wins: 2 | Average percentile performance: 37.2%
Young teams often figure out interesting ways to stumble before figuring things out in future seasons. But some never do. We'll find out in 2016 if FAU is capable of growing up enough to create a few more breaks for itself.
|FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||40.3%||83||Succ. Rt. +||91.9||105|
|FIELD POSITION||Def. Avg. FP||29.2||55||Def. FP+||29.4||59|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity||3.2||123||Redzone S&P+||82.6||124|
|Q1 Rk||100||1st Down Rk||92|
|Q2 Rk||82||2nd Down Rk||102|
|Q3 Rk||85||3rd Down Rk||95|
3. The offense is still the issue
That FAU was in position to win so many games despite an awful offense was an achievement in itself. The Owls took a step forward offensively in 2014, rising from 103rd to 86th in Off. S&P+; in 2015, they gave those gains away, falling back to 105th.
Quarterback Jaquez Johnson was awesome in the season opener against Tulsa (263 passing yards, 97 rushing yards) but battled injury, then inconsistency, thereafter. His passer rating topped 138 on four occasions but sank below 110 six times. Meanwhile, redshirt freshman Jason Driskel (of the footballing Driskels) looked like a freshman. His completion rate hovered around 50 percent all season while he learned what passes he could and couldn't get away with at the FBS level.
The passing game wasn't the major issue, however: The Owls fell from 81st to 110th in Rushing S&P+. An experienced line wasn't quite as effective, nor was Johnson, and all-or-nothing back Jay Warren became more all and more nothing. Warren rushed 19 times for 187 yards (9.8 per carry) against the two best teams on the schedule (Miami, WKU) and averaged just 3.4 per carry against everybody else. Star recruit Trey Rodriguez briefly erupted in the middle of the season, but there was simply no consistency to be found here.
After failing to land the head coaching job, Brian Wright originally remained on staff as FAU's offensive coordinator, but Partridge let him go in December. The replacement: Travis Trickett, former Samford O.C. Trickett's a hurry-up, no-huddle guy: In 2015, Samford averaged 77.5 plays and 34.6 points per game, leaning on a high-efficiency passing game (70 percent completion rate, 11.3 yards per completion). That would seem to fit the returning personnel well.
That said, Driskel needs to prove a bit more in the efficiency department or risk getting replaced by either three-star redshirt freshman Daniel Parr or incoming mid-three-star Steven Frank. Plus, a further breakout from Rodriguez might necessitate a decent amount of running ... if Rodriguez is still on the team, anyway.
Note: players in bold below are 2016 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.
|Jason Driskel||6'2, 210||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8129||77||151||965||3||4||51.0%||10||6.2%||5.4|
|Daniel Parr||6'3, 190||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8364|
|Steven Frank||6'4, 225||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8519|
|Greg Howell||RB||6'1, 205||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8233||133||598||3||4.5||2.7||41.4%||2||2|
|Jay Warren||RB||6'0, 205||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8356||95||449||3||4.7||7.5||32.6%||2||2|
|Trey Rodriguez||RB||5'10, 185||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8566||70||419||5||6.0||4.6||47.1%||0||0|
|Marcus Clark||RB||5'8, 185||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7856||37||184||1||5.0||4.3||37.8%||0||0|
|Jason Driskel||QB||6'2, 210||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8129||18||116||1||6.4||3.1||61.1%||3||2|
|Henry Bussey||WR||5'9, 180||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7556||14||65||0||4.6||3.9||50.0%||0||0|
|Devin Singletary||RB||5'9, 198||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7914|
|James Charles||RB||5'10, 200||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7810|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||Targets||Catches||Yards||Catch Rate||Target
|Kalib Woods||WR-Z||6'3, 193||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8300||68||27||330||39.7%||18.2%||4.9||67.6%||36.8%||1.17|
|Henry Bussey||WR-W||5'9, 180||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7556||44||29||236||65.9%||11.8%||5.4||61.4%||38.6%||1.23|
|Kamrin Solomon||WR-Z||6'2, 205||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7882||39||22||382||56.4%||10.4%||9.8||48.7%||41.0%||2.23|
|Nate Terry||TE||6'6, 220||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7000||38||16||185||42.1%||10.2%||4.9||57.9%||36.8%||1.30|
|Marcus Clark||RB||5'8, 185||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7856||14||9||116||64.3%||3.7%||8.3||35.7%||35.7%||2.25|
|Trey Rodriguez||RB||5'10, 185||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8566||13||10||93||76.9%||3.5%||7.2||30.8%||53.8%||1.34|
|Tony Thomas||WR-W||5'10, 190||Sr.||NR||NR||8||6||52||75.0%||2.1%||6.5||75.0%||50.0%||1.32|
|Greg Howell||RB||6'1, 205||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8233||6||5||54||83.3%||1.6%||9.0||66.7%||66.7%||1.33|
|Dustin Bowens||TE||6'4, 260||Jr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7900|
|Bobby Mitchell||WR||6'2, 175||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8156|
|Tavaris Harrison||WR||6'3, 166||RSFr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.8169|
|Ladante Harris||WR||5'10, 168||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7932|
|John Mitchell||WR||6'4, 195||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8025|
|Antonio Hadden||WR||6'2, 200||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7893|
4. Getting the ball to the right guys
Trickett's efficiency-based system could mean very good things for Henry Bussey and Kamrin Solomon, who were in their own ways FAU's most efficient returning receivers. Bussey's 66 percent catch rate was easily the best on the team among frequent targets, and Solomon's 41 percent success rate (percentage of targets that resulted in 'successful' plays, not just catches) was the best of anyone not named Jenson Stoshak (who has run out of eligibility).
The loss of Stoshak, by far FAU's most frequently targeted receiver, hurts. And it will be interesting to see how Trickett employs Greg Howell and Warren. Howell was far more consistent than Warren, gaining at least five yards on 41 percent of his carries, but he rarely gained more than about five yards. Warren, meanwhile, was a zero-or-30 guy.
If efficiency is the name of the game, then Howell and Rodriguez (if he gets his act together) would be key contributors. And one assumes that stocky freshmen Devin Singletary and James Charles might get a run in the backfield as well. But from an efficiency standpoint, there are few known quantities in the skill positions.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||2015 Starts||Career Starts||Honors/Notes|
|Reggie Bain||LT||6'4, 295||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7856||12||24||2015 2nd All-CUSA|
|Dillon DeBoer||C||6'6, 295||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7000||12||30|
|Jakobi Smith||RG||6'3, 300||Jr.||NR||0.7500||11||12|
|Kelly Parfitt||RT||6'6, 313||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8044||11||11|
|Antonyo Woods||RG||6'3, 295||Jr.||NR||NR||2||2|
|Matthew Weiner||LT||6'4, 275||So.||NR||NR||0||0|
|Siffo Pierre||LG||6'4, 310||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7000||0||0|
|Richard Williams||C||6'2, 280||So.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7833||0||0|
|Arthur Crouse||LT||6'6, 280||Sr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7000||0||0|
|Roman Fernandez||LG||6'0, 305||Jr.||NR||NR||0||0|
|Austin Bland||OL||6'3, 285||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8407||0||0|
|Tarrick Thomas||OL||6'4, 280||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8503|
|Bryan Beck||OL||6'6, 290||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7583|
|Brandon Walton||OL||6'5, 300||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8430|
|Ean Biancardi||OL||6'5, 285||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7793|
5. The line should do its part
The offensive line was a relative strength in 2014, and the Owls returned basically 3.5 starting linemen last fall, so I expected pretty good things. But through some combination of iffy play and a young backfield that didn't take advantage of blocking very well, FAU's line stats regressed. The Owls were pretty good at creating opportunities for runners (especially Howell) and were decent at keeping run defenders out of the backfield, but short-yardage was an issue, as were sacks.
It's never easy to separate the performance of the line from the performance of the guys it's blocking for, but in theory, with a more experienced backfield and four starters returning up front (79 career starts), the line should again be a relative strength.
|FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||41.7%||67||Succ. Rt. +||96.0||81|
|FIELD POSITION||Off. Avg. FP||30.5||52||Off. FP+||29.1||88|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity||4.5||75||Redzone S&P+||92.5||102|
|Q1 Rk||86||1st Down Rk||79|
|Q2 Rk||74||2nd Down Rk||76|
|Q3 Rk||116||3rd Down Rk||96|
6. Same old problems
In 2013, FAU ranked 10th in Passing S&P+ and 71st in Rushing S&P+. In 2014, 54th and 114th, respectively. In 2015, 46th and 112th.
FAU is developing a reputation, in other words. The Owls featured a devastating pass rush and got by with countless freshmen in the secondary, but they couldn't keep from getting pushed around and couldn't force enough passing downs to play to their strengths.
At first glance, that shouldn't be any different in 2016. The back seven is young (not not TOO young) and exciting. The pass rush returns a pair of ends who combined for 18 sacks last year. Meanwhile, the interior line returns just one contributor over 280 pounds.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Trey Hendrickson||DE||6'4, 265||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7956||12||30.5||4.5%||14.5||13.0||0||0||5||0|
|Hunter Snyder||DE||6'7, 260||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7583||12||24.5||3.6%||6.5||5.0||0||0||1||0|
|Ray Ellis||DT||6'1, 280||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7444||11||19.0||2.8%||1.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Nick Internicola||DE||6'3, 230||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8603||12||15.5||2.3%||2.0||2.0||0||1||0||0|
|Shalom Ogbonda||DT||6'4, 290||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8157||11||12.0||1.8%||1.0||0.5||0||0||0||0|
|Steven Leggett||DT||6'1, 270||So.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7785||8||7.5||1.1%||1.0||1.0||0||0||0||0|
|Haiden Nagel||DE||6'4, 250||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||NR||11||5.0||0.7%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Josh Ballesteros||DE||6'2, 210||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7751|
|Josh Kendall||DT||6'2, 269||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7593|
|William Davis||DT||6'0, 265||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8329|
|Kevin McCrary||DT||6'2, 265||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8497|
7. Turnover in the beef department
From the perspective of returning personnel, this appears to be a "strength gets stronger, weakness gets weaker" situation. Trey Hendrickson returns after a major breakout season; after recording five sacks in 2014, he erupted for 13, with five forced fumbles, last fall. Meanwhile, he found a lovely complement in then-freshman Hutner Snyder on the other side. Both are back, as is former star recruit Nick Internicola. That could be the best pass-rushing trio in Conference USA.
Meanwhile, both starting tackles are gone. Trevon Coley and Brandin Bryant went 300 and 290 pounds, respectively, and even with Coley providing a decent play-making presence, FAU was helpless against the run. Without them, you're looking at junior Ray Ellis, senior Shalom Ogbonda, and sophomore Steven Leggett, who combined for three tackles for loss and an average of 280 pounds of girth last year.
One assumes they will be attempting to pack on some weight this spring and summer, as will three-star signees William Davis and Kevin McCrary, who could contribute immediately if beefy enough. But the pressure's on. You can't take advantage of a great pass rush if you can't force passing downs, and you cannot free up a potentially awesome linebacker like Azeez Al-Shaair (72 tackles and seven tackles for loss as a freshman) to make plays if your tackles are getting pancaked.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Azeez Al-Shaair||LB||6'2, 215||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.8005||12||72.0||10.5%||7.0||1.5||0||2||1||0|
|Nate Ozdemir||LB||6'2, 230||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||NR||12||44.5||6.5%||2.5||1.0||0||2||0||0|
|Robert Relf (2014)||LB||6'3, 230||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7991||11||44.5||6.4%||1.5||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Jerrad Ward||LB||6'0, 215||Jr.||2 stars (5.2)||NR||9||16.5||2.4%||2.0||1.0||0||0||0||0|
|Jacob Douglas||LB||5'10, 220||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7400||4||11.5||1.7%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Khantrell Burden||LB||6'1, 205||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7683||9||3.5||0.5%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Jake Stewart||LB||6'0, 215||So.||NR||NR||10||1.5||0.2%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Kris Harris||LB||6'0, 225||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8322|
|Da'Von Brown||DB||6'0, 185||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8033|
|Rashad Smith||NB||6'2, 195||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7993|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Jalen Young||FS||5'11, 175||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8423||12||55.5||8.1%||2||0||3||2||1||0|
|Ocie Rose||NB||6'2, 185||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8220||12||33.0||4.8%||1||0||3||5||2||0|
|Herb Miller||CB||6'2, 185||So.||2 stars (5.4)||NR||12||25.5||3.7%||0||0||1||7||1||0|
|Jake Stoshak||FS||6'0, 180||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8006||11||19.0||2.8%||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Lester Thomas||FS||5'10, 165||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7759||8||14.0||2.0%||0||0||0||3||0||0|
|DJ Juste||NB||6'2, 190||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7933||10||8.0||1.2%||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|Raekwon Williams||CB||5'11, 180||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7000||12||8.0||1.2%||1||0||0||4||0||0|
|Andrew Soroh||SS||6'2, 205||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7893||10||5.5||0.8%||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|Shelton Lewis||CB||6'0, 171||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8217||11||3.5||0.5%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Marquese Dudley-Gordon||S||6'0, 188||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8423||6||2.5||0.4%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Kemar Downer||DB||5'11, 170||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8173||6||1.5||0.2%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Anthony Hamilton||DB||5'10, 195||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||NR|
|Reggie Brown||CB||5'11, 180||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7906|
|Rodrick Archer||S||6'1, 190||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8342|
|Richie Kittles||S||5'11, 175||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8134|
|Korel Smith||CB||5'10, 175||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8139|
8. The secondary should still be a strength
The back of the defense can only be a strength if the front allows it. But it's still pretty easy to get excited about the pass defense. FAU ranked 46th in Passing S&P+ in 2015 despite the fact that four of the top six DBs were freshmen. And while the loss of safety Sharrod Neasman and corner Cre'von LeBlanc hurt, Jalen Young and Ocie Rose are star safeties in the making, and fellow sophomore Herb Miller showed serious potential in defensing eight passes.
There's a little bit of imbalance here -- a lot more returning at safety/nickelback than corner -- but this is going to be a really good unit, especially if Hendrickson and Snyder are still producing up front. And because the ends are so good, defensive coordinator Roc Bellantoni doesn't have to take too many risks with his potentially awesome linebacking corps. They can help in coverage, too.
So much of this team's fate will be determined by how much opponents have to pass. There will be serious pressure on the defensive front.
|Dalton Schomp||6'1, 220||Sr.||45||48.0||2||13||15||62.2%|
|Ryan Rickel||6'0, 170||Sr.||10||35.2||1||6||7||130.0%|
|Greg Joseph||6'1, 210||Sr.||62||62.9||33||1||53.2%|
|Greg Joseph||6'1, 210||Sr.||28-28||13-16||81.3%||5-11||45.5%|
|Henry Bussey||KR||5'9, 180||Jr.||17||22.0||0|
|Special Teams S&P+||50|
|Field Goal Efficiency||97|
|Punt Return Success Rate||44|
|Kick Return Success Rate||43|
|Punt Success Rate||14|
|Kickoff Success Rate||24|
9. Fantastic in the field position game
So many C-USA teams were forced to depend on freshmen in special teams last year, but FAU had both experience and quality in the kick and return games, and it showed. Place-kicking was a little bit scattershot, but FAU had the components of an awesome field position game, and the tilted field created all sorts of advantages. Granted, they were advantages that the offense and run defense often squandered, but that doesn't have to be the case again in 2016.
This should be one of the best special teams units in C-USA. And maybe this year the offense takes advantage of its opportunities.
2016 Schedule & Projection Factors
|Date||Opponent||Proj. S&P+ Rk||Proj. Margin||Win Probability|
|17-Sep||at Kansas State||67||-13.2||22%|
|1-Oct||at Florida International||113||1.4||53%|
|26-Nov||at Middle Tennessee||90||-6.9||34%|
|Projected wins: 5.9|
|Five-Year F/+ Rk||-27.1% (107)|
|2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk||81 / 87|
|2015 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin*||-2 / -3.7|
|2015 TO Luck/Game||+0.7|
|Returning Production (Off. / Def.)||58% (54%, 62%)|
|2015 Second-order wins (difference)||5.0 (-2.0)|
10. Getting out of your own way
In theory, this doesn't have to be a make-or-break year for FAU. The Owls are still incredibly young -- right now, I'm guessing they only start about two seniors on offense and two to three on defense -- and might still be a year or two away from peaking under Partridge.
Still, there is a golden opportunity to seize some power in Conference USA right now. WKU and Marshall are still the class of the league, and Louisiana Tech and maybe Southern Miss aren't far behind. But FAU has recruited as well as anyone not named Marshall of late, and the Owls really were just a small handful of plays from 6-6 or 7-5 last year.
S&P+ likes FAU's schedule. Southern Illinois, Ball State, Charlotte, UTEP, and ODU all visit Boca Raton, and if the Owls win those five games, they only need to pick up one more to go bowling. And with trips to Rice, FIU, and MTSU all on the docket, that seems semi-realistic. But now it's up to FAU to prove that last year's blown opportunities were a function of youth and randomness, not flawed talent and coaching.