FA-who? Your Florida Atlantic Owls preseason preview

Can you feel it Owls fans? It’s that time of year again!

“Time to go back to class in a few weeks?”

Well, yes smartass FAU kid but it’s also football season!

“Oh boy! I can watch (insert Power Five Florida team) after a long week of class and studying!”

But there’s a team right on campus?

But they are not as good as (Power Five Florida team), where I am transferring after I finish this semester.

Well, good luck to you sir. You know what they say: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em…

Here’s your preview:

Coach:

Lane Kiffin is here Owls fans. After years of 3-9 football, a potential savior is back in Boca Raton to finally bring the team to a bowl game for the first time. Let’s review how the last two coaches have fared:

Carl Pelini: 5-15, resigned after alleged drug use 1.5 seasons into tenure.

Brian Wright: 4-0, saved 2013 season after Pelini allegations in his role as interim coach.

Charlie Partridge: 9-27,  Got chance after program wanted an outside candidate. Changed the culture of the program, but never could win late in close games.

Kiffin’s got a low bar to succeed at the start, but already has drummed up attention with several moves including but not limited to:

  • Hiring Kendal Briles,  who allegedly bribed recruits with sex during his time at Baylor.
  • Hiring his brother Chris, who had multiple recruiting violations while at Ole Miss.
  • Filming a hype video that didn’t bring the hype.
  • Offering multiple young children scholarships (often ones whose fathers he’s worked with)

We haven’t played a snap yet and the man has already drummed up significant attention. Let’s hope he can actually coach with all the circus stuff going around.

To be honest, Kiffin was a major boost to recruiting and will improve the team quickly over time. The question stands whether he can turn talent into wins, something Partridge struggled with.

Offense:

At quarterback, there’s already a battle brewing between established guy Jason Driskel and transfer De’Andre Johnson. Driskel started much of last year for the Owls but was inconsistent on his way to a 61.2 completion percentage, 2415 yards of rushing and nine touchdowns. His 11 picks were a major problem he needs to address if he is to win the job.

Johnson was one of Kiffin’s first pickup after being hired, playing at East Mississippi Community College after being kicked out of Florida State University for striking a woman in the face on camera. As one of the most sought after prospects, Johnson could be a major dynamo for a middling Owls offense.

Both airmailed plenty of passes in the spring game, so it will be worth seeing who improved more over the summer.

Greg Howell and Devin Singletary will once again share carries along with Kerrith Whyte in terms of running backs, but only because the trio is markedly different in play style. Howell will try to bowl over defenders to his best season at FAU, while Singletary and Whtye will try to build their resumes for when Howell graduates. Marcus Clark specializes as a receiving back, so expect him to be mixed in at times to change up the look of the offense.

With leading wide receiver Kalib Woods gone after an alleged assault, Kamrin Solomon and Nate Terry will have to step up in his absence. Both caught less than half of the total passes Woods did combined last year, so this is their chance to show what they do with extended chances.

John Raine and Harrison Bryant shore up the tight end spot after the departure of Driskel safety blanket Tyler Cameron. Both have a chance to get receptions in an uncharted pass game.

Boasting multiple returning linemen in Antonyo Woods, Roman Fernandez, and Reggie Bain, FAU quarterbacks should be better off than in the past year. Injuries killed this unit, so look for them to try and bounce back from a troublesome season before.

Defense:

The worst in Cconference USA and one of the worst in the FBS, that’s all you have to say. They will be better this year though.

Jalen Young will dominate in the secondary among fellow talents Raekwon Williams, Ocie Rose and  Andrew Soroh. I will say this will be the best unit on the team and will probably create a lot of fear for opponents who aren’t careful passing.

No Trey Hendrickson at defensive end and a lot of youth mean the Owls will struggle rushing off the edge. Instead, they will rely more on their interior linemen to do the heavy lifting.

Haiden Nagel should have his breakout season on the line this year, Ray Ellis will become more comfortable playing as a starter and the whole group shall improve. The only weakness I could see is against the run, which will depend on the play of the linebackers.

That group includes Azeez Al-Shaair and Rashad Smith. Al-Shaair should perform as one of the team’s best tacklers once again but will need to pick up more leadership responsibility. Smith is my choice for breaking out on the defensive side among all players

Overall:

This team will win more, but I don’t know how quickly they can improve in just a year. Look for them to show both promise and give fans pain as they narrowly miss bowl eligibility for another year.

I think Conference USA will improve as a whole this year, so don’t expect domination. Look at them to finish third or fourth in the east but miss out on a bowl game. If they do get hot, they could blow my prediction out of the water.

Record: 5-7

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s