The Owls (4-5, 3-3 Sun Belt) have won four times this season, with three of those wins coming by one point. FAU captured their season opener against Alabama-Birmingham by blocking a potential game-winning field goal on the game's last play. The Owls beat Western Kentucky via a fourth quarter field goal and ousted Louisiana-Lafayette by halting the Rajin' Cajuns on a late two-point conversion.
It stands to reason that a Howard Schnellenberger team is tough enough to win the close ones, and that's what the Owls have done to keep their shot at a bowl berth alive. That berth seemed so far away when the Owls started 1-5, but three straight wins can do a lot for confidence.
But if the Owls are going to get there, they're going to have to get more production from their offense. The Owls are averaging just 18.2 points and 300.7 yards per game. Only once this season has FAU scored more than 30 points, and the Owls needed a defensive score to get there. FAU hasn't put up more than 357 yards in any game this year.
The offense revolves around 6-foot-6 quarterback Jeff Van Camp. Not much of a runner, Van Camp has completed 60 percent of his passes and has passed for 1,746 yards and 12 touchdowns to seven interceptions.
His top target is star receiver Lester Jean, a 6-3 target who has 750 yards and six touchdowns on the season. He's a big-play threat, averaging 16.3 yards per catch. Tight end Rob Housler (6-5 230) is a pro prospect who makes his living testing defenses over the middle. Not just a safety blanket, Housler's 471 yards have come at 15.2 yards per pop.
When the Owls run the ball, their top back is Alfred Morris, who has more than six times the carry of any other runner on roster. Morris has rushed for 762 yards and seven touchdowns, while averaging 4.3 yards per rush.
FAU is tall, but thin on the offensive line, with only 6-6 right tackle Max Karrick weighing 300 pounds. The other four linemen average taller than 6-4 and weigh an average of 278 pounds a man.
Defensively, FAU allows 24 points per game, and struggled against the run. The Owls allow 193.1 rushing yards per game and 4.6 yards per attempt.
The Owls are better against the pass, thanks in part to end trio Cory Henry, Kevin Cyrille and Jamere Johnson. The three have combined for nearly 70 tackles and 16 tackles for loss. Cyrille is a run-stopper, while Johnson comes in to boost the pass rush. Henry and Johnson have seven sacks between them.
Middle linebacker Michael Lockley has great size at 6-3 245 and has 79 stops on the year. He leads the team in that category. Malik Eugene is shortly behind with 75 tackles. And nickel back/linebacker combo Yourhighness Morgan is a multi-talented player who can make plays in the backfield.
The four secondary starters have seven interceptions between them. Free safety Marcus Bartels is undersized, but he's the team's second-leading tackler, has 4.5 stops in the backfield and two picks.
The Owls are mostly inconsistent on special teams, without great return units. Kicker Ross Gornall has missed two field goals between 30 and 39 yards. The exceptions are Lockley and punter Mickey Groody. Lockley has blocked three kicks this year, while Groody is averaging 44.3 yards per boot.
QB: 12 Jeff Van Camp (6-6 210, Sr.)
RB: 32 Alfred Morris (5-11 222, Jr.)
FB: 8 Xavier Stinson (5-9 229, So.)
X: 3 Lester Jean (6-3 195, Sr.)
Z: 2 DeAndre Richardson (6-2 180, Fr.)
TE: 81 Rob Housler (6-5 230, Sr.)
LT: 53 Samuel McRoy (6-4 275, Jr.)
LG: 56 Andy Czuprynski (6-5 270, So.)
C: 50 Jimmie Colley (6-3 280, Fr.)
RG: 52 Chris Newbold (6-5 285, Jr.)
RT: 64 Max Karrick (6-6 300, Jr.)
LE: 92 Kevin Cyrille (6-4 275, Jr.)
LDT: 58 Dino Cox (6-3 290, Sr.)
RDT: 96 Jimmy Jean (6-2 290, So.)
RE: 31 Cory Henry (6-3 238, Fr.)
SLB: 39 Malik Eugene (6-3 230, Sr.)
MLB: Michael Lockley (6-3 245, Sr.)
LB/NB: 48 Yourhighness Morgan (6-3 220, So.)
LCB: Tavious Polo (5-11 175, Sr.)
FS: 27 Marcus Bartels (5-9 170, Jr.)
SS: 38 Ed Alexander (6-1 181, Sr.)
RCB: 9 Tarvoris Hill (6-0 170, Sr.)
K: 20 Ross Gornall (6-1 180, Sr.)
P: 17 Mickey Groody (5-11 170, Jr.)
KR: 4 Jeff Blanchard (5-9 195, Sr.)
PR: 1 Avery Holley (6-0 165, Jr.)
LS: 54 Tim Raber (6-2 185, So.)