FAU receiver Byron Hankerson, our selection for Most Improved Player for the first half of the 2012 season, hauls in a touchdown vs. MTSU. (Photo Courtesy of Ralph Notaro/Owl Pix)
We take a look at some of the top performers of the first half of the season and look ahead to FAU's chances the rest of 2012.
Originally published on
Six games into the 2012 season, Florida Atlantic is 1-5 and has matched its victory total from last season. The Owls have also showed it is going to be a challenge to win another game. Possible? Yes, but it certainly is not a given.
FAU's offense is still a work in progress and its defense is inconsistent, playing well in spurts, but has been prone to some letdowns.
All of this could be expected from a young team, and could pay dividends down the road. But many are wondering when the results will come. Is it next week, next month, next season or even later? It's impossible to say, but FAU fans are growing antsy. Losses to Alabama and Georgia are acceptable, but the discontent rises with losses to Middle Tennessee State (without its leading rusher), North Texas at home and a lackluster performance at ULM.
It's understandable for the fan base to be squirming, but better days certainly could be ahead. While FAU's offense is indeed struggling, it is running a spread offense with players who were recruited to fit in a pro-style system. And as for the defense, much of its troubles can be attributed to a number of first-year players who are rotating in, plus the defense is on the field a considerable amount of time due to the offense's struggles.
There may be some who thought the program would be farther along after six games under Carl Pelini, but it's obvious this is an extensive rebuilding project. A few victories would be nice in the first season (and this week's game against 1-5 South Alabama may be the best chance all season to notch that elusive second “W”) however, the program appears to be progressing even if the victories aren't coming. Next year, fans should rightfully be expecting to judge success by the team's win-loss record. However, this season appears to be more about the long-term growth of the program than winning games.
Since we are at the half-way point, here are some of our award winners for the first half of the season...
Team MVP: WR William Dukes
Last week we said we thought the MVP could be P Sean Kelly, but Dukes gets the nod for his growing ability to provide a spark to an offense that plays well when it has some momentum going. Dukes can get the offense going in one play and has proved valuable indeed.
Defensive MVP: LB David Hinds
A leader on the field and in the huddle, Hinds is the players who gets the defense going. Hinds has 50 tackles, including four tackles for loss, has forced two fumbles and has recovered one as well.
Newcomer of the Year: S Jeremy McKnight
Linebacker Adarius Glanton, a junior college transfer, has 36 tackles and an interception returned 42 yards for a touchdown against Georgia, but McKnight has been a force on the defense. In addition to the leadership role he has earned, McKnight is the second-leading tackler on the team with 43 and also has an interception and a fumble recovery.
Most Improved: WR Byron Hankerson
Hankerson has been sidelined with academic issues for much of his career, but has put them behind him this season and responded with a fast start after years of making plays on the scout team. Hankerson has 15 catches for 209 yards and leads the Owls with two touchdowns.