The FAU Owls' inactive list was a lot shorter versus UTSA Saturday at FAU Stadium than it was against Marshall last weekend.
Florida Atlantic, which was without 43 players (28 COVID-19 related) in its loss to the Thundering Herd, only had two novel coronavirus-related absences against the Roadrunners.
Marquise Robinson and BJ Etienne returned to the starting lineup as the Owls' left and right tackle, respectively. They both missed last week’s game, with Devin Hayes and Doug Johnson Jr. starting in their place.
FAU’s running back unit wasn’t as deep as usual, with BJ Emmons (sprained ankle) inactive for Saturday after FAU coach Willie Taggart said the senior running back was questionable heading into the game.
Sophomore running back Larry McCammon III was also inactive versus the Roadrunners due to an ankle sprain sustained against Marshall.
Emmons was injured in the first quarter of FAU’s win against Charlotte on Oct. 3 and didn’t play against the Thundering Herd. He had four carries for 13 yards versus the 49ers.
McCammon and Emmons' absences allowed more rushing opportunities for the Owls' other running backs, with Malcolm Davidson rushing for 65 yards on eight attempts in the first half — including three rushes of 15-plus yards.
Among other key absences for FAU on Saturday were:
— Backup quarterback Javion Posey, who returned to practice earlier in the week. Justin Agner and Willie Taggart Jr. were both available versus UTSA.
— Redshirt freshman defensive end Marlon Bradley and redshirt senior defensive tackle Marcel Southall were out for Saturday’s game with injuries.
Offense starts strong
The Owls bounced back from their slow offensive starts in their first two games.
FAU scored on its opening drive of the game for the first time this season with Vladi Rivas kicking a 24-yard field goal to cap a 10-play, 58-yard drive to the Owls' their first opening quarter points on the season.
They scored on their next possession after forcing a three-and-out.
James Charles ran for 15 yards on fourth-and-1 before starting quarterback Nick Tronti connected with wide receiver Aaron Young on the next play for a 27-yard touchdown to give FAU a 10-0 lead with 4:55 left in the first quarter.
The Owls put together a nine-play, 80-yard drive that finished with Tronti rushing for a 2-yard touchdown toward the end of the second quarter to give FAU a 17-3 lead heading into halftime.
FAU had nine points in the first half of its previous two games. The Owls gained 6.7 yards per play (241 yards on 36 plays) in the first half versus UTSA after 234 total yards on 67 plays against Marshall and 315 yards on 55 plays versus Charlotte.
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