Two American Athletic Conference foes square off Friday night when the Florida Atlantic Owls take on the Charlotte 49ers. Both teams are under a new coaching staff this season and are in desperation mode to keep their seasons alive with a bowl bid.
FAU is 3-4 on the season but is 2-1 in conference play with wins over Tulsa and South Florida. The Owls were stunned last week by UTSA 36-10 and are looking to get back on track this week.
Biff Poggi’s first year at Charlotte hasn’t had a lot go right for the 49ers, as the team is 2-5 and just 1-2 in conference play. They’ve been largely uncompetitive throughout the season, losing five of their last six by a combined 149-68.
What Channel Airs the Florida Atlantic-Charlotte Game?
Florida Atlantic @ Charlotte
- Start Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
- Channel: ESPN2
- Odds: Florida Atlantic -4.5
- Over/Under Total: 41
For Florida Atlantic, their offense has been largely inconsistent throughout the season. A week after putting up almost 600 yards on USF, the Owls got blanked by UTSA and didn’t even break 200 total yards of offense.
Florida Atlantic’s offense has essentially revolved around getting two players the ball as often as they can, running back Larry McCammon III and wide receiver LaJohntay Wester.
McCammon is a physical running back with good patience and the contact balance to absorb hits and consistently generate positive plays. He won’t break a ton of tackles and doesn’t have a ton of long speed, but he sets defenders up well in space and should serve as a valuable part of a committee in the NFL.
Despite McCammon’s success, Wester is the engine that makes the whole ship run. His usage this year is almost jaw-dropping, with a whopping 91(!) targets in the passing game this season to go along with handling return duties. Wester is the only wide receiver in the country with 90+ targets this year, and the number makes sense when you watch him.
Wester’s speed is evident, creating separation with ease at every level of the field, but he’s also a nifty route-runner and explosive in short areas. You have to live with his small size, and he does have nine drops on the season already, but his style of play is reminiscent of Tank Dell last season.
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The good news for Charlotte is that their passing defense hasn’t given up a ton of yards all season, sitting around the middle of the pack in the American in most passing categories. However, they are giving up too many catches, which they simply cannot do with Wester on the other side and the other talented FAU receivers that play second-fiddle to him. The worst thing Charlotte can do is let FAU quarterback Daniel Richardson get into a rhythm.
To combat this, Charlotte pass rusher Eyabi Okie-Anoma is going to have to play a significant role. The former five-star leads the team in pressures and sacks this season and has been one of the rare bright spots for this defense.
Charlotte’s offense hasn’t found a lot of answers yet. The offense lost plenty of talent in the offseason and is still trying to figure out its identity. The 49ers are a heavy 12-personnel team and are very run-heavy, but the production hasn’t fully formed yet. Quarterback Jalon Jones leads the team in rushing by almost 400 yards and is the only Niner with more than one touchdown on the ground.
Their passing game is unconventional with a ton of passes out of 12-personnel, a rare thing in college football. Jones has a live arm but has just two touchdowns passing to four interceptions, and the receivers have yet to emerge. They need a playmaker to form somewhere.
This doesn’t seem like a great matchup on paper against a Florida Atlantic defense with a few NFL guys on it. Nose tackle Evan Anderson is massive at 6’3, 356 pounds, and he is one of the best run stuffers in the country. He’s also shown some flashes as a pass rusher, though it isn’t his best trait.
However, FAU is giving up 176.3 yards on the ground per game despite Anderson’s efforts up front. FAU has struggled with the quarterback run game this season as well, something that could bode well for the 49ers offense if they can keep Anderson blocked well.
For when Charlotte does drop back to pass, Florida Atlantic has struggled to put pressure on the quarterback. No defender has more than nine pressures, and the Owls only have 17 sacks as a unit this season.
With two teams searching for a bowl bid and offenses that can score points on each other, this game has the potential to be an entertaining option on Friday night, as both teams will pull out all the stops they can to get a win.
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