Kan Li / Scout

Florida Gators’ opponent preview: Florida Atlantic

Florida hosts Florida Atlantic on Saturday at 12 p.m.


Florida Atlantic comes into Saturday with the No. 7 total offense (379.9 yards) in Conference USA. The Owls also rank No. 10 in scoring offense (22.3 points), No. 8 in rushing offense (158.9 yards) and No. 7 in passing offense (221 yards).


Jaquez Johnson has only two games left in one of the best careers for a FAU quarterback. The senior is the first quarterback in school history to throw for 5,000+ yards and run for 1,500+ yards. He has 37 passing touchdowns and 18 rushing touchdowns in school history, the only quarterback to be on the school’s top 10 in rushing touchdowns. This season, Johnson has 1,356 passing yards for eight touchdowns and four interceptions.

The backup quarterback is Jason Driskel, the younger brother of former Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel.


Greg Howell leads the Owls on the ground, rushing 118 times for 532 yards and three touchdowns this season. The sophomore is averaging 4.5 yards per carry and has five catches for 54 yards out of the backfield. Freshman Trey Rodriguez is second on the team with 70 rushes for 419 yards. He leads the Owls’ running backs with 6.0 yards per carry, adding five touchdowns on the ground.


Senior Jenson Stoshak leads the Owls’ receivers with 46 catches for 680 yards. Sophomore Kamrin Solomon is second on the team with 332 receiving yards despite being listed as a backup on the FAU depth chart. Kalib Woods has 296 receiving yards and two touchdowns for an FAU offense that spreads the ball around after Stoshak.  


The Owls lean heavily on two tight ends -- Tyler Cameron and Nate Terry. Cameron is fourth on the team with 239 yards on 18 catches, including a long catch of 71 yards this season. Terry has 15 catches for 168 yards but a team-high four touchdowns. Terry is listed as the starter, but it’s Cameron who produces the yards through the air. When they get near the end zone, Terry shines.


The Florida staff has talked all week about the size of the FAU offensive line. Their five starters up front average 6-5 and 305 pounds and have been fairly consistent in the starting lineup this season.

Left tackle Reggie Bain and left guard Mikingson Marsaille have started all 10 games this season. Center Dillon DeBoer didn’t start until the third game of the season but he has been in the starting lineup for every one since. Right guard Jakobi Smith has started every game since the season opener. Right tackle has been the only spot with three different starters. DeBoer actually started the first two games at right tackle before moving to center, and after Antonyo Woods started the third game of the year at right tackle, Kelly Parfitt has started the seven games since.



The Owls rank No. 7 in Conference USA in scoring defense (29.4 points) while ranking No. 8 in total defense (428.4 yards), No. 10 in rushing defense (185.3 yards) and No. 5 in passing defense (243.1 yards).


The most disruptive part of the FAU defense is its line. The Owls rotate as many as 10 defensive linemen to keep everyone fresh, and three of their active defensive linemen ranks in the top 10 in program history for career sacks. Defensive end Trey Hendrickson is currently No. 3 with 14 sacks while defensive tackle Trevon Coley is No. 4 with 12.5 sacks. Backup defensive tackle Brandin Bryant is No. 5 in school history with 11.5 sacks. The school record for sacks is 16.


Freshman linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, is the defensive standout on paper. He leads the team with 82 tackles, adding 5.5 tackles for a loss with two pass breakups, two pass deflections, one forced fumble and one quarterback hurry. Fellow linebacker Nate Ozdemir is fifth on the team with 53 tackles, plus 1.5 tackles for a loss and three quarterback hurries.


Cre’von LeBlanc has put together a strong season for the FAU defense. The Owls have 13 interceptions on the season, and LeBlanc leads them with four. He also leads the team with 10 pass breakups and 14 pass deflections.

On the other side of the field, Herb Miller has 25 tackles with one interception to go with seven pass breakups and eight pass deflections.


Strong safety Sharrod Neasman is second on the team with 64 tackles, adding two interceptions, three pass breakups and five pass deflections. Freshman free safety Jalen Young is third on the team with 61 tackles, three interceptions, two pass breakups, five pass deflections and one forced fumble.


The Owls are No. 1 in Conference USA in punting (41.3 yards), No. 2 in kickoff coverage, No. 8 in field goals (66.7 percent), No. 7 in punt returns (7.7 yards) and No. 5 in kickoff returns (21.8 yards).

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