Photo Credit: FAU Athletics
Unacceptable. That was the first word that came to mind to explain Florida Atlantic’s offensive performance against Georiga Southern.
FAU struggled against Georgia Southern in nearly every way possible. The play calling was rough, and the execution wasn’t much better. Simply put, the FAU offense didn’t play well enough to win. Any time you turn the ball over four times (two interceptions), convert just 2/10 third-down opportunities, or have just 42 yards among your running backs, you’re likely not winning. The fact that FAU scored just three points isn’t surprising.
While neither quarterback was good against Georgia Southern (Nick Tronti and Javion Posey combined to complete 50 percent of their passes), the play-calling didn’t help their efforts at all.
Why FAU Doesn’t Use Tight Ends
It’s probably important that we address a topic that has been largely discussed among FAU fans this season: the play of tight ends.
FAU tight ends have combined for just two receptions this year, with both Michael Irvin II and Logan Peterson receiving one pass. The tight ends have just 30 yards total and one touchdown, which was scored in the first game of the season against Charlotte.
Willie Taggart took his first head coaching job in 2010. Since then, not a single tight end has been the focal point or largely involved in his offense. This goes against his primary objective on offense – spread the field. Having tight ends, well, tight to the formation, simply doesn’t mesh with that objective.
The team also doesn’t feature a true receiving threat. Harrison Bryant isn’t there anymore, and Irvin was primarily used as a blocker when he was at Miami.
Play #1 – Posey’s Second Turnover
Javion Posey’s second interception came on FAU’s second drive of the third quarter. After seeing some sustained success with the running game, Taggart opted to attempt to throw it on 1st and 10. While the decision is fine – it might be smart to try and get Posey in momentum – the play call is just odd.
Taggart calls a play with two deep routes to the middle of the field. Normally, that isn’t a bad thing. However, there’s a slight problem – both players run to the same part of the field and in turn, clogs up the secondary. Any throw to the side of the field with THREE routes is an interception, so eliminate an entire side of the field.
Posey does deserve some blame for this play. He has to do a better job reading this defense, instead of trusting his arm. He needed to throw the football away and live to see another down on the drive. But Posey is a freshman and freshmen like to try and play hero ball. That’s a coaching mistake to put your freshman in that circumstance.
Posey might have a cannon of an arm, but he has struggled with ball placement all year. With this knowledge, why is this the play call when your offense is beginning to show some sustained success on the ground? Run the ball until they find a way to stop it.
Taggart used the word ‘really’ TEN times to stress how important it was to hold onto the football and on the night, FAU turned the ball over 10 times. He was not happy following the game and I’m not sure you can blame him – the offense was ugly.
Play 2 – 4th Down & 1
The decision to go for it on 4th down is definitely the right call in this situation. FAU needed to maximize their possessions, as Georgia Southern is content with grinding time off the clock.
This is what Nick Tronti sees at the line of scrimmage pre-snap. The play still could work, but there’s a slight problem – FAU is losing the numbers battle.
Football is a game of numbers, and on this play, FAU is losing that game. Georgia Southern stacks the box with eight defenders, while FAU only has seven possible players available to block. This play call immediately puts your team in an adverse situation.
Eight defenders in the box should trigger an audible to a pass. Despite this disadvantage, FAU opts to run the play called – quarterback power. Power pulls the backside guard and tackle to push the play to the left. Not only does FAU run into the stacked box but Logan Peterson misses his man, meaning that Tronti has to change his route and move towards the unblocked right side of the field.
The result was as expected. Nick Tronti is stuffed and FAU turns the ball over on downs.
This play is a loser even before the ball was snapped. The best case scenario would be an audible, or even a timeout. This is the most important part of the game, there is no reason to run into the teeth of a prepared defense. Play calls have to put your players in the best situation to win. This is poor in every sense of the word.
Play 3 – Redzone Mishap
I’d like to present a situation…
When you see this situation, what seems like a logical play call? Something that goes to the end zone? Something with multiple reads?
Now, let’s check what FAU calls.
FAU chooses to run a swing pass to James Charles. By doing so, it removes the ability for anything else to happen. This ball has to go to the running back. If Georgia Southern reads the play (which they do), the play is dead and you kick the field goal.
The pass is dropped but it wouldn’t matter. Even if Charles passes the catch, he has to go Dragon Ball Z Super Saiyan and make a magical play.
This play call is something that happens on 1st and goal or 2nd and goal, as you hope to catch the defense off guard. On 3rd down, the play has to go to the end zone and you have to have options available for Tronti to make the right read.
Picking the Right Play
So, what DO you run? Author’s Note: I don’t know what is on Taggart’s play sheet or what he thinks FAU is comfortable running, so this is purely hypothetical.
College teams like to run a fade concept in the red zone and if you have a tall wide receiver who plays to his size (this is something that isn’t guaranteed), it works wonders. FAU could have run the fade with T.J. Chase, who is 6-foot-1 with a strong ability to make a play on the ball but a fade route requires a nearly perfectly placed ball to the back pylon and any miscue in either direction puts the ball out of bounds or opens up the possibility of an interception.
So, what about this?
TOUCHDOWN TIGERS (x2)
— CFB Kings (@CFBKings) November 9, 2019
Former LSU offensive coordinator Joe Brady (now with the Carolina Panthers in the NFL) ran this smash concept against Alabama and it works like a charm. The X-receiver is running a clear route, trying to take defenders out the play. On that same side, the running back runs towards the pilon on a clean release, while the other receiver runs an out route. Although Alabama runs cover 4, which should stop this play call, this play works.
I Have No Words
BALL SECURITY IS JOB SECURITY……………………………………………
More of this… Please
MORE OF THIS! This is how you win with young QBs. Keep the game simple for them and give them easy reads.
FAU opens the half with a flood concept on 2nd and 9 and it works like a charm. Georgia Southern is in cover 4 (the two corners and the two safeties drop into deep zones), which leaves the out route at the sticks wide open. It’s more wide open than a 7-11.
Javion Posey makes a good throw and FAU has a fresh set of downs.
Fans want their quarterbacks to be able to make every throw in the book, but that’s just not possible right now. Posey isn’t Patrick Mahomes or Tom Brady. To win, the game has to be simple for him. Simple reads like a flood concept, which overloads one side of the field and overwhelms the defense, simplify the game for Posey.
The Wrap Up
So, what does this tell us? It tells us that this loss isn’t solely on Willie Taggart or the quarterbacks. It isn’t only on the offensive line, the running backs, the wide receivers, the tight end, the field, or the weather.
When an offense turns the ball over four times and scores three points, the blame shouldn’t be put on one person. There were instances where the play-calling was poor and there were times where the players didn’t execute. All in all, FAU got outplayed by Georgia Southern.