Florida Atlantic fans likely have not seen the last of quarterback Stephen Curtis.
Yes, Curtis struggled in the first half of the Owls' 7-3 victory over Wagner and was benched by Graham Wilbert, who led the team to the victory and was named the starter for Saturday's game at Middle Tennessee.
But when Owls coach Carl Pelini watched the tape he found that the woeful offensive performance wasn't entirely Curtis' fault. For instance, in the first half, receivers weren't running routes as well as they did later in the game, Pelini said.
I’m a little careful about putting that whole offensive performance in the first half on Stephen’s shoulders,” Pelini said. “I still think he has a future here. He showed us enough in camp to know he’s a talented kid. His first game, he probably had a little jitters and pressed a little bit too much. He just needs some experience to settle back and let the offense happen and not force it.”
FAU offensive coordinator Brian Wright also said he saw some positives in Curtis' outing.
“There were some positives with Stephen,” Wright said. “In a passing game when you go 4-for-10 it doesn't always fall on the quarterback. Certainly there are some things that fall on his shoulders, but there are 10 other guys on offense.”
So what's next for Curtis? Well, he probably should be ready this week just in case Wilbert struggles or is injured. And even if Wilbert keeps playing like he did vs. the Seahawks, that doesn't necessarily mean Curtis won't see the field again this season.
In fact, Pelini said it's possible Curtis could see action in a “wildcat” formation in the future.
“You might think about developing a package for him down the road - a wildcat type package, which as a defensive coordinator you hate to see,” Pelini said “It's one thing defending a wildcat-type of offense with a running back at quarterback. It's another thing when there is the threat to throwing the ball.”
And for his part, Curtis, just a redshirt sophomore, handled his benching well.
“I missed some reads but it was just a couple of small mistakes I made,” Curtis said. “You just go look at the film and get ready for next week. I could have done better, but I can't go back and change that now, so I'm just focused on next week.”
And Curtis just may be practicing with something to prove. Pelini said Curtis came out and had a solid practice on Tuesday.
“He had a pretty good practice,” Pelini said, “He’s not a guy who’s going to get down on himself. He’s pretty competitive....I didn't see any lingering after affects.”