Owls must contain UAB quarterback

After watching Texas quarterback Colt McCoy shred the Owls, Florida Atlantic defensive coordinator Kirk Hoza was hoping for a bit of a break when he started watching film of Alabama-Birmingham.

No such luck. While UAB quarterback Joe Webb is not all the McCoy was, he is not far from it, according to Hoza.

"He's very similar in what he does and in his production," said Hoza. Webb ran for 136 yards and passed for 169 more in the Blazers 45-22 loss to Tulsa.

"It's similar to what we experienced in Austin," Hoza said, referring to the 103 yards rushing and 222 passing the McCoy logged against the Owls while leading the Longhorns to a 52-10 win.
 

"We face a similar challenge. McCoy was able to turn passing plays where we had all the receivers covered into positive plays with his feet," Hoza said.

Webb is a junior who didn't sit on the bench while waiting for his chance at quarterback. At 6-4, 220 pounds, he played wide receiver last season in addition to mop up duty at quarterback, and had 30 receptions for 449 yards and three touchdowns.

Against Florida State he had six catches for 89 yards and a touchdown. "He put on a show. He was covered and out-leaped defenders and made one-handed catches," Hoza said.

FAU will try and contain Webb and force him to throw. "It is certainly a challenge for us," Hoza said.

Kickoff is Saturday at 4 p.m. at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.

Finishing: In the loss against Texas, Florida Atlantic got into the red zone four times and came away with 10 points, turning the ball over twice on a fumble and interception.

"We didn't do too bad," quarterback Rusty Smith said, "we just didn't put the ball in the end zone."

That is why the theme at practice this week in preparing for Saturday's home opener against Alabama-Birmingham has been on ending drives with touchdowns.

"Offensively we have to finish up what we start and not leave it on the ground or throw it to them or drop one that would stop a drive," coach Howard Schnellenberger said.

FAU should have more success against a UAB defense that gave up 603 yards and 45 points last week against Tulsa.

More running: FAU knew it would have trouble running against Texas, which was sixth in the nation in run defense last season, so the Owls concentrated on their passing attack.

"For us to think we could knock Texas off the ball was not realistic, so we were throwing first and we did move the ball," Nord said.

Expect FAU to try and establish the run early against the Blazers.

"The more you get your running game going, the better your passing game is going to be," offensive coordinator Gary Nord said.