With the Owls’ wide receiver unit depleted by defections and injuries, FAU’s cornerbacks suffocated a unit comprised mostly of players not yet ready for prime time.
FAU’s defense as a whole lacked productivity in the first spring scrimmage, but after that the Owls’ quarterbacks struggled to locate open targets.
Chris Tooley and James Pierre are well established players on the outside. Nickel proved more intriguing. Quran Hafiz is entering his third season as a starter and Korel Smith played extensively last season.
Versatile redshirt freshman Teja Young is new to the battle, but looked the part. He can cover and isn’t afraid to hit.
“Another young DB that made a lot of plays out there,” coach Lane Kiffin said of Young following the spring game. “Very aggressive personality. Great high school player. Just hoping to see that carry over now.”
SPRING GRADE: B. This grade would have been higher if not for their struggles in the first scrimmage. And let’s face it, Tooley, Pierre and Hafiz should be effective against a group down to one starter by the final scrimmage. The lack of depth in the unit is also a concern.
SPRING STANDOUT: Pierre. Tooley picked off more passes this spring, but that was because passes were rarely thrown Pierre’s way. He’s fast and physical, and has the potential to be a All-Conference USA performer.
SPRING DISAPPOINTMENT: Meiko Dotson’s surgically-repaired hip prevented him from meaningfully participating in spring practices. The former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket is expected to be ready for fall practice, but he’ll be playing catch-up – not a positioned corners like to be in.
SPRING SURPRISE: FAU has depth at nickel, but the Owls were dangerously thin on the outside this spring. Second teamer Diashun Moss played well in his first extended action and walk-on Malik Vigille made some plays on the opposite side. The return of a healthy Dotson should help. The Owls could also move Smith or potentially Hafiz wide in an emergency. FAU did sign some talented cornerbacks in February. A couple of them may be forced into action earlier than expected.