Typically, we would recap and talk about what went down in Saturday’s game. But unfortunately, we were not the team I know we have the potential to be, and we had a tough loss against new conference opponent UAB. It was an uncharacteristic performance by the Bulls, and we shouldn’t take too much time focusing on the negatives when we have shown so much progress all season. I believe it was just a bad game that we will learn from and we will get back on track to go bowling this season.
One of the positives I can take away from last week’s game at UAB is that Byrum Brown was great on the ground again. After a couple weeks with little rushing production on his end, he finished Saturday’s game with 16 carries for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground.
Along with Brown’s big rushing performance, wide receiver Sean Atkins showed up big in the stat sheet for the second week in a row. Atkins tallied in 8 catches for 91 yards on Saturday, putting him at 422 yards so far this season. We hope this type of production continues from Brown and Atkins, but we also have to get back on track as an entire unit in order to win.
Now, on to homecoming week! We will host FAU this week for our homecoming game, we must set the tone early in this game. Not only is this our homecoming game, but this is the introduction to a newfound rival. With former foes leaving the conference this season, we were left with only one in-state opponent, and that would be the FAU Owls, the second of the three owl mascots we will face this year (Rice and Temple).
After a bad loss, it is always a mental challenge to get back on track for the next game. But after seeing what this team is capable of, I’m confident that Coach Golesh and his staff will acknowledge what went wrong, fix it, and get ready to win. We will be in conference play for the rest of the season and the games will only come with more significance as we progress.
This Saturday’s game against FAU will be a fun one to watch because both teams line up pretty well at their skill positions. FAU features one of the conference’s best receivers in LaJohntay Wester, who is FAU’s career leader in receptions after only two full seasons. Given that this team has played against some respectable receiving cores, I believe we are capable of neutralizing this group, forcing them to run into our front seven that has been playing well this year.
Ultimately, this game has to be won in the trenches for the Bulls; even in our tough loss at UAB, we saw flashes from linebackers, DJ Gordon and Jhalyn Shuler, that gives us much needed confidence on the defensive side. We also hope to see big performances from Rashad Cheney (DL) and Jonathan Ross (DE) to keep pressure on the two quarterbacks the Owls use.
With that being said, on the back end of this defense, we cannot get discouraged after UAB’s game. This unit has made some large strides this season and have been impressive against good competition. This week’s game against FAU won’t be anything to overlook, but we have the talent to dominate against this group, and I’m confident Coach Todd Orlando will put together a scheme to maximize this defense’s strengths and get back on track.
Offensively, I would love to see the air raid we had against Rice and Navy, and it is possible, but we have to win in the trenches on the offensive side as well. We began this season as one of the top rushing offenses in the country and we have slowly digressed. The rushing production hasn’t taken a fall at an alarming rate, but if we can win this game up front, the rushing attack will open up for running backs, Nay’Quan Wright, Michel Dukes, and K’Wan Powell.
We are all curious to see how this team performs after a crucial loss, so this will be a big game for Coach Golesh and the Bulls. Given that this will be our homecoming game, there should be a good turnout of students, alumni, and fans to bring the hype to Raymond James Stadium this week. We all hope to see the team that dominated against FAMU, Rice, and Navy, and bring home a win for homecoming!