2012 Record: 3-9 (2-6 in Sun Belt)
Head Coach: Carl Pelini (Second year at FAU, 3-9 All-Time)
Stadium: FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, FL (capacity = 29,419)
Home Field Advantage: ranked 44th out of 55 mid-major teams
Conference Affiliation: Will begin play in C-USA this season
2013 Schedule Link
Conference Home Games: 9/21 vs Middle Tennessee, 10/12 vs Marshall, 11/2 vs Tulane, 11/29 vs FIU
Conference Road Games: 9/5 at East Carolina, 9/28 at Rice, 10/5 at UAB, 11/16 at Southern Miss
Tough Sledding: 8/30 at Miami (FL), 9/14 at USF, 10/26 at Auburn
2012 Statistics Link
Stat to Fear: scored on just 71.79% of red zone trips (114th in Nation), averaged 3.2 ypc (110th in Nation)
Stat to Cheer: allowed opponents to convert on 36.71% of third downs (3rd in Sun Belt)
Advanced Stats (Football Outsiders 2012 FEI Ranking): 114th out of 124
Phil Steele's Returning Starters: Offense: 5, Defense 7, Special Teams 2
Key Defensive Returnees: LB Adarius Glanton (75 tackles, 2 INT), LB Andrae Kirk (70 tackles), S Jeremy McKnight (50 tackles), DB Keith Reaser (45 tackles, 2 INT)
Key Offensive Returnees: RB Jonathan Wallace (648 yds rush, 6 TD), WR William Dukes (63 rec, 979 yds, 4 TD), Daniel McKinney (48 rec, 492 yds)
Top Recruits: RB Jay Warren, OG Austin Bland, DT Lance Burlingame, WR Kalib Woods, WR Bobby Mitchell, S Robert Miller, QB Quez Johnson
Inside Scoop with Dieter Kurtenbach of the Sun Sentinel Hoot-n-Holler Blog:
CFBZ: Carl Pelini enters his second season as head coach for the Owls. What do you think he did well in year one and what does he need to improve this season?
Dieter Kurtenbach: Pelini had a terribly low bar set for him at FAU, so it didn't surprise anyone that he exceeded the expectations. There are differing opinions over what those expectations have become in year two, but a consensus has been formed that a bowl game would be a logical next step for the program -- though not reaching it wouldn't be disappointing. Pelini did a great job at keeping his notorious temper in check in year one -- he'll need to maintain that evenness in year two.
CFBZ: FAU has some tough tests early in the season. Are their any games that you think the Owls have circled?
Dieter Kurtenbach: The season opener at Miami and the week two test against South Florida loom large for the Owls, not because of their proximity to the beginning if the season, but because of those schools' proximity to Boca Raton.
Those two games give FAU two opportunities to shake up the Florida football landscape, which will pay dividends in the short term, and the long -- the Owls are in desperate need of some buzz amongst the public and potential recruits.
CFBZ: FAU had a senior QB in Graham Wilbert last season. Who is in line to replace him and what do they bring to the table?
Dieter Kurtenbach: Two players are in line to replace Wilbert: senior Melvin German and junior college transfer Jaquez Johnson.
German will win the job if he can straighten out his academic woes. He brings elite running ability and some notable zip on short-to-mid yard throws.
Johnson is a tank -- a poor man's Chase Daniel. He does everything well enough that he can win a game in many ways -- but German's running ability is something offensive coordinator Brian Wright is keen to utilize.
CFBZ: Who are some players that need to step up this season if the Owls are to improve in the win column?
Dieter Kurtenbach: FAU will have three new offensive line starters in 2013, and those could include a first-year JuCo transfer and a true freshman. There is no doubt that if FAU are to push for a bowl game this season, the offensive line -- as a whole, will have to have the best summer in the history of Conference USA football.
Safety Damian Parms' progression will go a long ways to helping an excellent pass defense last season improve.
Tight end Nexon Dorvilus is likely the Owls' top senior NFL option. He needs to demand more of the ball, as he'll be a mismatch for defenses all season.
Some people might not remember but FAU has only been playing football since 2001 when Howard Schnellenberger led them as a Division I-AA team. The Owls joined the ranks of the FBS as an independent in 2004 and have been to two bowl games (2007 and 2008). After falling to 1-11 in 2011, Schnellenberger gave way to Carl Pelini, who went 3-9 in his debut season.
FAU had an up and down season in 2012 but was probably better than their record might indicate. They dropped three of their games by seven points or less and even managed to beat a bowl team (Western Kentucky). Hopes are high for the Owls as Pelini has signed the highest rated class in FAU history. But will it be enough with the loss of their senior QB and question marks on defense?
One thing to note about 2013 is there is no Wagner on the schedule. Last year they faced two top ten opponents (Alabama and Georgia) and this year they face three teams from the "BCS" conferences (Auburn, Miami and USF). When I look at the schedule for the Owls this year I definitely see some possibility for improvement. Playing Middle Tennessee, Rice, UAB and Marshall in four straight weeks isn't exactly a gauntlet and how the Owls fare in those four games might just decide their season. The Owls start off on the road with three straight (Miami, ECU, USF) and could very well be 0-3 as they head into that four game stretch. The schedule is workable but this is still a team that lost to South Alabama last season. The ceiling looks like five wins but stranger things have happened.
Previous 2013 Pre-Season Previews: