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Falcons Fly By the Owls, 31-7

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Rounding into form

In their first complete performance of the young season, the Falcons trounced Florida Atlantic after sprinting to a 21-0 lead on their first three possessions after just 11 minutes of play.

The offense looked every bit as good as it did against Utah State, and this time it was without turnovers. The nation’s best rushing attack produced 446 yards and only required 5 changeup passing attempts.

Haaziq Daniels led the Falcons with 164 yards on 17 attempts and 2 TDs, including this beautifully executed sweep around the left side:

If you slow the video down, you can see all the linemen except LG Isaac Cochran seal off the defensive linemen to the right side of the formation. Cochran pulls and leads Daniels before sealing off the free safety to the left. SB Micah Davis provides the block that seals off the strong safety and Brad Roberts takes out the cornerback. Daniels turns on the jets and goes 94 yards for the touchdown, adding a nice little stutter step inside the 10 to throw off the last tackler just enough to get in the end zone. The result was the longest touchdown run in Falcon history.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Falcons changed up the personnel from last week by going with 5 defensive backs and only 3 linebackers. Sophomore Trey Taylor got his first career start after missing the first three games with a non-Covid illness. He exhibited his play making ability with 4 tackles, including 1 sack, a forced fumble and 3 pass breakups. Camby Goff also moved into the starting lineup.

At linebacker, Alec Mock started for an injured TD Blackmon, and led the Falcons in tackles with 7. Speaking of injuries, they’ve begun to pile up for the Falcons. Lakota Wills appears to have played his final game for the Falcons. On offense, third string center Luke Hallstrom started the game because of injuries to Ben Mercer and Thor Paglialong. In the second half, TE Kyle Patterson left the game after appearing to twist his knee or ankle.

Overall pass coverage was better, but the secondary was aided by a poor throwing day from N’Kosi Perry. Corvan Taylor picked up his third interception of the season, which gives him 5 in his 9 career games. I don’t want to jinx him, but Weston Steelhammer’s best year was 7 in 13 games in 2016.

The pass rush was adequate, but it did seem that the quick big lead lowered the necessity to take risks in order to stymie the Owl’s offense. In any case, the Owl’s only managed 219 yards of total offense and only had the ball for 19 minutes.

There were a couple negatives for the Falcons. Kicking woes continued even as the Falcons changed their primary field goal/extra point kicker. Anthony Rodriguez took over for Matthew Dapore and made one of two field goals, missing one from 22 yards out. Also, the Falcons only converted on third down 3 times out of 14 tries, and only 4 times out of 6 fourth down tries.

Next up for the Falcons is a road trip to Albuquerque to face the Lobos. Come back on Thursday for my preview of the game!