Quez Johnson throws a pass during a quarterback drill on Tuesday. (OwlAccess.com photo)
Expecting to play
FAU offensive coordinator Brian Wright says that if Quez Johnson's sore shoulder continues to improve at the same rate the sophomore QB should be ready to start on Saturday.
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BOCA RATON – If FAU quarterback Quez Johnson's left, non-throwing shoulder keeps improving at it's current rate he should be ready to start at No. 2 Alabama on Saturday.
“I would expect him to,” offensive coordinator Brian Wright said following Tuesday's practice, adding “He looked a lot better than I thought he would look to be honest with you.”
Johnson, who is neither a doctor nor has he played one on TV, has already cleared himself to play.
“I'm alright,” he said. “I could play right now if I had to.”
Johnson took part in the quarterback drills on Tuesday but when it came time for full team drills Greg Hankerson lined-up behind center with the first team.
Johnson injured his shoulder early in the Owls season-opening loss to Nebraska. He stayed in the game for a few more plays, but left permanently after two Nebraska players drove him to the ground on that left shoulder.
“When I fell on it I just couldn't take it anymore,” Johnson said.
Johnson led the Owls on a 75-yard touchdown drive on the Owls' first possession. Hankerson took over after Johnson left and struggled, completing only five of his 18 passes for 34 yards.
Hankerson believes he was trying to play too fast – a situation he attempted to rectify during Tuesday's practice.
“Before every play I was telling myself, 'slow down, slow down,'” Hankerson said.
True freshman Jason Driskel ran the second-team offense on Tuesday. The Owls would like to redshirt Driskel but would likely have to turn to him should Johnson's recovery suffer a set back and Hankerson misses extended time for some unforeseen reason.
Had Hankerson been forced out of the Nebraska game for a play or two, Driskel wouldn't necessarily been the next quarterback in.
QB-turned-wide receiver D.J. Juste or even one of the scout team quarterbacks could have been called upon to help preserve Driskel's redshirt. Wright joked that he might send in former FAU quarterback Graham Wilbert, who is now a graduate assistant for the Owls.
“If it was one play, we'd figure out a way not to use Driskel for sure in that situation,” Wright said. “I might surprise you.”
While Johnson's prognosis seemed to be improving, the same can't be said for preseason All-Conference cornerback D'Joun Smith, who also injured a shoulder at Nebraska. He missed much of Tuesdays' practice and didn't appear to be wearing shoulder pads when he was on the sidelines.
Sophomore Reggie Brown took Smith's place with the first team. FAU did not provide an update on Smith's health.
Hard Knocks at the Ox: Tuesday's practice report
Making Plays: True freshman QB Jason Driskel connected on a nifty screen pass to Jay Warren during team drills. ...Shalom Ogbonda broke through the line and deflected a Greg Joseph 43-yard field goal attempt. ...Joseph did connect on a 45-yard field goal to end practice. ...In a spirited tackling drill pitting scout team running backs against linebackers, RB Antonio Washington didn't shy away from contact, running over a couple linebackers. His effort prompted DC Roc Bellantonio to shout “I've gained a lot of respect for you.”
Inside the Huddle: Guard Jakobi Smith worked with the first team, sliding Dillon DeBoer to second team. ...It looks like there might be a bit of a shake-up on the defensive line. Defensive end Haiden Nagel worked with the first team in the spot usually held down by Trey Hendrickson.and Derek Butcher spent time with the first team at defensive tackle. ...Safety Damian Parms wore a red no-contact jersey but FAU did not provide information about his injury. ...Guard Karl James (overheating) was back on the field but wearing a red, non-contact jersey. ...Linebacker David Lozandier left Saturday's game with an apparent ankle injury but was a full go on Tuesday.
What They're Working On: FAU wanted to get its offense back into rhythm while elevating the confidence of second team QB Greg Hankerson. “We knew we could have gotten it done on Saturday, we just didn't execute how we were supposed to,” Hankerson said. “Today just gave us another boost to remind us.”
Instant Message: “We moved the ball well but we just didn't finish the drives. We could have easily had 21 points in the first quarter.” - Quez Johnson assessing FAU's early offensive performance at Nebraska