Oct. 31, 2012
The Florida Atlantic football team hits the road for the next-to-last time this season when they travel Saturday to Annapolis, Maryland, to take on the Navy Midshipman.
The Owls look to carry momentum into this week following Saturday's 34-27 comeback win over Troy, but head coach Carl Pelini has noticed that the team isn't acting much different in practice leading up to the game.
"It's been business as usual," he said. "That's important for our staff, not to overreact to losses and not to overreact to wins. No matter where you are coming out of the game, on Sunday, you're already working on your next opponent. They're not really acting any differently now than they were after the tough loss to South Alabama. That's a good sign."
Navy showcases a unique offense: the triple option. They are ranked sixth in all of the FBS in rushing, averaging 271.1 yards a game. They have rushed the ball 431 times this season, compared to only 105 passing attempts. The challenge for Pelini is to stop the Midshipman offense without changing the defense already in place.
"You take your same defense and you have to tweak it assignment-wise, obviously, to account for the triple option," said Pelini. "We're not really putting in a new front or anything new, we just have to tailor it to the triple option. It takes discipline, you look at our run defense, it's been really good at times. It's a responsibility-oriented defense, if one guy breaks down, you have an issue. We're not fighting the fundamentals, and we're not fighting the assignments, we're fighting the consistency and the discipline it takes to play your responsibility play after play after play."
Another obvious strength of Navy, as a service academy, is combatting their discipline.
"It's a unique challenge for us, it'll be a big test," said Pelini. "That's been a big challenge for us, the discipline on the field to get the call, think about your assignment and take the correct alignments every time. Even when you're tired. I think that's for any new coach taking over a program such as this, that's the biggest challenge. That's the thing that takes the longest. Obviously, because of who we're facing, they'll test that."
The Midshipmen have won four in a row since freshman quarterback Keenan Reynolds took over midway through their game against Air Force on October 6 and led them to a comeback victory in overtime. That includes a 56-28 rout of East Carolina last Saturday. They are 5-3 overall.
The Owls are now 2-6, and their offense is clicking behind the play of quarterback Graham Wilbert, who for the fourth time this season, threw over 250 yards (261 to be exact) against Troy.
"The offense has been very efficient in terms of assignments," said Pelini. "Graham has been very efficient, the receivers are running good routes and blocking downfield, the running backs have their eyes open and are hitting their holes. It's just coming together in that regard, there haven't been a lot of busts. Those have been minimized the last couple of weeks."
Kickoff on Saturday is at 3:30 p.m. Tune in to live audio on FAUSports.com, or watch it on CBS Sports Network.