BOCA RATON – Rather than crown a winner in FAU’s seemingly endless quarterback battle, the Owls’ first fall scrimmage offered glimpses as to why each of the three competitors could start the Owls’ opener at Oklahoma.
It also showed why each could start the season on the bench.
De’Andre Johnson. Chris Robison and Rafe Peavey all threw at least one touchdown pass. All three saw the offense they led sputter at times.
For the most part, the offense looked like a unit that had been practicing together for only 10 days. The ragged play began even before the first snap, resulting in a flag for a false start.
Johnson started the scrimmage piloting the first team, gaining a couple first downs. Robison marched the second team down the field in his first possession before linebacker Khantrell Burden picked him off in the back of the end zone.
Peavey, who transferred to FAU from SMU on Tuesday, grew more comfortable as the scrimmage progressed. The offensive tempo was at its fastest with Peavey behind center.
“Being a veteran and being around different systems and different things you can tell that he’s got a good understanding of the position,” coach Lane Kiffin said.
Playing primarily against the third-string defense, the Peavey-led offense moved the ball rather consistently, culminating with a couple of touchdown passes from the newcomer.
“I thought we were pretty efficient getting a lot of plays in in a short amount of time with pretty few busts, honestly,” Peavey said. “I though our guys came out here and were physical and took care of business.”
FAU’s banged up receivers unit suffered another blow when John Mitchell incurred an undisclosed injury in warm-ups.
With several other receivers nicked, and Kiffin electing only to give many first string players little more than a handful of snaps, receivers generally buried deep on the depth chart took advantage of increased opportunities.
Robison followed a strong Friday practice with arguably his best scrimmage as an Owl. Though he still lacked consistency, the redshirt freshman who transferred from Oklahoma zipped a few passes within the design of the offense and led the Owls on their most successful drive in the two-minute portion of the scrimmage, taking the offense to the 5 yard line, setting up a field goal.
“I thought Chris made a lot of really good plays,” Kiffin said. “Some good plays on time, which is what we are looking for, because both guys have made out-of-rhythm plays. We’ve been trying to stress them to make plays on time, in rhythm, so we don’t get negative plays trying to make too much happen.”
James Brunson caught two early touchdowns. Merrill’s touchdown catch from Peavey was his second of the day.
Pico Harrison also found the end zone.
“That’s why we tried to play a lot of snaps with ones, twos and threes, to make sure we are playing the right guys,” Kiffin said.
Heisman hopeful running back Devin Singletary only carried the ball a few times, and the running backs in general struggled to gain yardage, in part because defenders only had to grab them, rather then get them to the ground, for officials to blow the play dead.
Defensive lineman Anthony Bennett delivered the defensive play of the day when he scooped up a fumble in the offensive backfield and raced more than 80 yards for the lone defensive score of the day.