BOCA RATON – Final exams are quickly approaching for FAU students. Last week served as exam week for FAU players. Five weeks of spring practice culminated with Saturday’s spring game, where the modified scoring system determined that the defense blew out the offense, 62-33.
Now that the Owls have taken their final exams, it’s time to give them their grades. We’ll start with the offense today. Coming soon, we’ll give the defensive report card.
QUARTERBACKS: C. Jason Driskel and De’Andre Johnson were both learning their third offense in as many seasons. Driskel significantly outperformed Johnson in the spring game, but during practices he seemed prone to making those inexplicable decisions with the football that made fans cringe last season. Johnson played better in practices than he did on Saturday, so there’s reason for hope that he’ll improve. Keep in mind, spring practice may have lasted five weeks, but the Owls were only on the practice field a total of 15 times. That’s not much time to master an offense.
Player to Watch: Daniel Parr. All indications are that Parr will be ready for the fall after undergoing foot surgery prior to spring practice. What will happen then? Will one of the most highly touted recruits in FAU history make it a three-way QB battle, or will he be left behind?
RUNNING BACKS: A. Devin Singletary looks like he could be even better than last year. Buddy Howell brings power. Kerrith Whyte is versatile. Marcus Clark continues to make plays when given the opportunity. This unit is as good as it gets for FAU.
Player to Watch: Howell. Minor injuries limited Howell during the spring. Singletary clearly looks like the primary back. Are there enough carries to go around that Howell can become more than a short yardage/goal line back next season?
WIDE RECEIVERS: A-. If running backs were the best unit on the team, the receivers were a close second. Kalib Woods continues to be reliable, and made a spectacular diving catch on a deep ball Saturday. Kamrin Solomon enjoyed a breakout spring. It’s hard to believe this is essentially the same unit that the Owls employed last year. With Henry Bussey, John Mitchell, Pico Harrison, Bobby Mitchell and Nate Terry the Owls are easily seven deep, and that’s before the arrival of JUCO signee De’Andre McNeal.
Player to Watch: Solomon has played well in spurts before, then struggled in games – seeming to lose his confidence. Will Solomon’s strong spring carry over into fall? If so, Solomon should enjoy a big year in this offense.
TIGHT END: B. Harrison Bryant and John Raine showed good hands throughout the spring but weren’t factors on Saturday. Dustin Bowens appears to be mostly a run blocking tight end, so nothing new there. Kendal Briles’ offense might rely on the tight ends more than originally thought.
Player to Watch: A.J. Turman. He began spring as a running back, moved to linebacker, then gave tight end a shot. The Owls are trying to find a place for the 6-foot-2, 225-pounder who possesses obvious physical athleticism. This may be Turman’s best chance.
OFFENSIVE LINE: D. The injuries that plagued last year’s offensive line carried over to the spring. An FAU defensive line that concerned new coach Lane Kiffin all spring managed to pressure quarterbacks in the spring game – and that was without some of the defense’s best players. Antonyo Woods is still learning the center spot. Reggie Bain is still recovering from his motor scooter accident. Three Owls who started games last season weren’t cleared for the spring. There simply isn’t any depth here.
Player to Watch: Joey Palmer. FAU signed the JUCO offensive tackle to start immediately and barring injury he should be able to crack the lineup once he arrives on campus. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Palmer become the starting left tackle, moving Bain to the right side.
COMING SOON: Defensive Report Card