BOCA RATON – FAU’s struggles along the offensive line are causing offensive coordinator Travis Trickett to change the way he approaches calling games.
“Yes, it absolutely alters what you do,” Trickett said.
The season is only entering its third week, but FAU has already experienced a season’s worth of upheaval along its front five.
FAU lost starting left tackle Reggie Bain the week prior to the start of the season to a motor scooter accident, prompting the Owls to shuffle the entire left side of the line by sliding center Dillon DeBoer to Bain’s spot and moving left guard Roman Fernandez to center.
The Owls also played without starting right guard Antonyo Woods in the first week because of an undisclosed injury. Woods returned against Miami on Saturday, but FAU lost right tackle Kelly Parfitt to a knee injury in the first quarter of that game.
Parfitt is out for this week and Woods, who moved from guard to tackle following Parfitt’s injury, has spent the week working in his spot, with Jakobi Smith filling in at right guard.
All the movement means the Owls will likely have to use tight ends or running backs to help the offensive line on Saturday at Kansas St.
“You have to sacrifice some things,” Trickett said on Wednesday. “There’s a lot of things that may be there, but if you’ve got to help somebody just to get the play started, you’ve got to do that, and that’s something we’ve had to do the last three weeks.”
With DeBoer struggling both weeks at tackle and coach Charlie Partridge singling out center Fernandez as one player who didn’t play well against the Hurricanes, FAU could opt to return to a lineup similar to what the Owls used most of fall camp, moving DeBoer back to center and Fernandez to guard.
Should the Owls opt to do that, either redshirt freshman Tarrick Thomas, who has started the last two games at guard, true freshman Brandon Walton, redshirt freshman Bryan Beck or redshirt sophomore Byers Hickman – who missed all of camp with an undisclosed injury – could start at tackle.
“Whatever you have rolling out there on Saturday you’ve got to do what they can do best,” Trickett said.
What is it that this line does best? With all the shuffling, that’s been hard to pinpoint.
“We’re finding out as we go,” Trickett said. “We’ll find out on Saturday.”
Trickett is hoping that this Saturday’s offensive performance will be an improvement over Saturday’s loss to Miami, when the Owls managed only 47 rushing yards and totaled 214 yards.
He said the most of the Owls’ wounds were self-inflicted, caused by a lack attention to detail, missed assignments and poor execution.
“The game on Saturday was what you thought it was – it was not very good,” Trickett said.
Trickett attributed many of those issues to the Owls’ youth. Parfitt, DeBoer and tight end Tyler Cameron were the lone seniors to start on offense against Miami.
He asked coaches to emphasize the details during this week’s practice to ensure younger players who are still adjusting to college football do in the game what they have been taught in practice.
“I told our coaches, we’ve got to harp on the little things every day because when that young buck gets out there, he might have done right in practice, you’ve got to double,triple quadruple check in practice to make sure he understands this is what he has or what he needs to do,” Trickett said.