Much has changed since the Miami Hurricanes and Florida Atlantic Owls met last season in Boca Raton. A quarterback competition, new offensive coordinator, and the return of Conference USA's sack leader are the main storylines for the Owls heading into the fall. As part of our way-too-early preview of the Miami Hurricanes 2016 football schedule, we'll recap the last meeting between the ‘Canes and Florida Atlantic, preview the Owls for 2016, and offer our thoughts on the matchup.
9/3 (Season opener) vs. Florida A&M Rattlers, 6:00 PM ET
9/10 vs. Florida Atlantic Owls, 6:00 PM ET
10/17 at Appalachian State Mountaineers, TBA
See the full Miami Hurricanes 2016 football schedule here.
When the Hurricanes and Florida Atlantic met last season, Miami pulled out a 44-20 victory, but it was a manic showing by the ‘Canes. After a shaky start, the Hurricanes were ahead just 20-17 at halftime. Florida Atlantic was enjoying long drives for scores and showed no signs of letting up. After the break, the Hurricanes were much sounder defensively. Florida Atlantic was able to tie the game at 20 apiece in the third quarter, but the Hurricanes responded with 24 unanswered points, winning 44-20 in Boca Raton.
Running backs Joseph Yearby and Mark Walton had strong outings against the Owls. Joe Yearby led the charge with 18 carries for 146 yards and a touchdown. Freshman Mark Walton ran for 42 yards on 14 carries and three touchdowns.
Brad Kaaya ended the game with 287 yards on 21 of 32 passing and one touchdown. Herb Waters led all recievers with 5 catches for 102 yards. Running back Joe Yearby played a key role in the passing game, finishing with 3 receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown.
The Hurricanes' defense allowed 389 total yards and 22 first downs, and forced five turnovers. With the game tied 17-17 late in the 2nd quarter, Jamal Carter delivered a devastating hit on Florida Atlantic running back Jay Warren that caused Warren to fumble. This play triggered a momentum change in the game that was previously in the Owls' favor. The Hurricanes' defense, plagued by numerous missed tackles early on, began to tighten up defensively, allowing just 3 points after the fumble recovery.
Previewing the Owls in 2016
Florida Atlantic enters the fall with no clear-cut starter at quarterback. Daniel Parr and Jason Driskel both took snaps with the first-team offense in FAU's spring game. Head coach Charlie Partridge said after the spring game there is no separation between the two. Daniel Parr, a redshirt freshman from Dwyer High School, saw the least reps of the two in the spring game, connecting on 9 of 12 passes. Jason Driskel, a redshirt sophomore, finished with 20 completions on 27 attempts and an interception. Jason Driskel saw action against the Hurricanes last year when starter Jacquez Johnson left the game with an injury. Driskel threw for 155 yards on 17 of 30 passing with a touchdown and two interceptions against Miami. Driskel finished the 2015 season with 965 yards, three touchdowns, four interceptions, and a 51% completion percentage.
Both quarterbacks are dealing with the implementation of a new system under first-year offensive coordinator Travis Trickett. Former offensive coordinator Brian Wright was fired following the 2015 season. Travis Trickett, son of Florida State Seminoles' assistant head coach and offensive line coach Rick Trickett, previously served as the offensive coordinator for the Samford Bulldogs before coming to Boca Raton. Trickett aims to bring a spread offense to the Owls.
SB Nation's Underdog Dynasty noted the high play count (80) for the offense in FAU's spring game, suggesting the offense may play with a faster tempo under Trickett:
"The red offense ran 80 total plays during the game, a figure to keep in mind to compare for the Fall. If the Owls are already running more plays than they did last year before their system is fully there, that should be a great indicator that the Owls will have one of the fastest offenses in the FBS."
Running back Kerrith Whyte had a strong showing in FAU's spring game, finishing with two rushing touchdowns and a 17-yard receiving score. Whyte, a redshirt freshman, took on an increased role with senior running back Jay Warren sidelined due to injury. Jay Warren played against the Hurricanes last season, finishing with 11 carries for 132 yards, a touchdown and a fumble (all of which were amassed in the first half, before an injury sidelined Warren). Warren ended the year with 449 yards and 4.7 yards per carry.
Florida Atlantic must replace its leading receiver from last season, Jenson Stoshak, who accounted for 57 catches and 820 receiving yards. Kamirin Solomon, a junior, caught 22 passes for 382 yards and two touchdowns last year, and appears to be the Owls' top receiver heading into the fall. Nate Terry, who moved from tight end to receiver this offseason, led the team in touchdown receptions last season with four.
Azeez Al-Shaair and Trey Hendrickson are players to watch for on the Florida Atlantic defense. Azeez Al-Shaair, a sophomore linebacker from Tampa, Florida, led the team in tackles with 94 and was named Freshmen All-American by USA Today in 2015. Trey Hendrickson is a senior leader for the Owls. Hendrickson ended the season as Conference USA's sack leader and was No. 2 nationally following the regular season with 13.5 sacks.
If the Owls truly have upped their tempo, it'll be interesting to see how the Hurricanes react after spring practices that put emphasis on playing faster, moving quickly between drills and conditioning during practice. For the Hurricanes' offense, they'll be facing a Florida Atlantic defense that ranked No. 13 in team sacks in 2015. This matchup could serve to gauge Miami's progress along the offensive line and the defense's ability to combat an up-tempo offense under new defensive coordinator Manny Diaz.
While Florida Atlantic nearly had the better of the ‘Canes a year ago, after finding their way, Miami beat the Owls handedly. In 2016, the Hurricanes are destined to be large favorites over the Florida Atlantic Owls again.
- The Miami Hurricanes lead the all-time series over Florida Atlantic, 2-0.
- Florida Atlantic and the Hurricanes first met in 2013, which resulted in a 34-6 Hurricanes' victory at Sun Life Stadium, Miami's largest over the Owls.
- The Florida Atlantic Owls are 11-13 all-time against Sunshine state adversaries, including 10-4 against the FIU Panthers, 0-3 against the Florida Gators, 0-2 against the Miami Hurricanes, 1-3 against the South Florida Bulls, and 0-1 against the UCF Knights.
- As of this posting, the Miami Hurricanes and Florida Atlantic Owls are not slated to meet again on future schedules after 2016.