The Owls turned the ball over more times than they found the end zone on Saturday, including on each of the first three possessions.
“Very sloppy, which is usually the case for the first scrimmage,” Kiffin said. “More penalties, more turnovers than what we’ve been doing in practice. That part’s discouraging.”
Here are our observations from Saturday’s scrimmage.
FAU Scrimmage Six Pack
1. Minimal Quarterback Separation: If Kiffin were to make his starting quarterback choice based solely on Saturday’s scrimmage he’d likely go with Chris Robison – but it wouldn’t be a slam dunk. No quarterback enjoyed a particularly good day. Robison threw two touchdowns – one while working with third teamers against third teamers, the second a dump pass to BJ Emmons on the scrimmage’s final play – and didn’t throw an interception, but Kiffin was critical of his decision-making. “Chris did what he’s kind of done in camp,” Kiffin said. “We all know he’s kind of arm-talented. He’s made some really good throws, especially that one to his left late there. But at the same time he’s got to make the right decisions.”
Tronti tossed two picks against one touchdown, and afterward assessed his own play by saying he “looked like a high school quarterback.” Agner forced an interception on the first possession and was hampered by illness by the same illness that bothered him this week much of the remainder of the day. Agner vomited on the sideline and didn’t see the field for the scrimmage’s second half. All three quarterbacks made more plays with their legs than their arms.
2. O-Line Needs Work: A lack of holes for running backs accounted for the offense’s inability to mount drives. Quarterbacks often had to leave the pocket early, though Kiffin attributed some of the to poor blocking by the running backs. FAU’s inexperienced second- and third-team offensive lines struggled all afternoon. And third string center Federico Maranges, who’s learning the position, needs to be more consistent with his snaps. “We knew that we real still have work to do, but it’s not a real game. We’ve still got time,” center Junior Diaz said.
3. Running Back Replacements: As noted above, the backs tasked with replacing Devin Singletary and Kerrith Whyte didn’t find many holes. James Charles began the day with the first team. BJ Emmons grew stronger as the game progressed – a trait that could bode well for ending last year’s fourth quarter offensive woes. Earlier in the week Emmons showed a propensity to find the end zone in goal line situations. No Owl scored on the ground today, but Emmons did nearly all the work on his 52-yard touchdown off a dump pass from Robison. True freshman Larry McCammon saw early action and has the look of a back who’s ready to contribute immediately.
4. Defense Forced Turnovers: Defensive penalties proved problematic on the first drive – officials flagged the defense for four of them – but interceptions by Da’Von Brown and Teja Young, and a fumble by Kelvin Dean and recovered by fellow true freshman Antarrius Moultrie ended each of the first three possessions, respectively. The defense recovered a couple more fumbles, but the defensive highlight of the day had to be when defensive tackle Noah Jefferson, having dropped into coverage, leaped to bat a Tronti pass in the air, cradled it as it fell into his arms, then returned the pick about 15 yards.
5. Wide Receiver No-Show: Kiffin’s search for impact receivers will continue beyond the first scrimmage. Alabama transfer Chris Herring, a walk-on at both schools, was the only receiver to catch a touchdown pass. He’s currently a third stringer, at best. John Mitchell had a quiet afternoon. Willie Wright continues to have too many balls pulled out of his hands before he can complete the catch. Starter Pico Harrison and good-looking freshman Eyin Cole both missed the scrimmage with undisclosed injuries. Without Harrison, USF transfer DeAngelo Antoine started at wide out.
6. Kicking Improvement: After struggling mightily last season and early in camp, FAU’s kickers enjoyed a decent afternoon. Incumbent Vladi Rivas made both his field goal attempts, connecting from 41 and 35 yards. Furman transfer Aaron Shahriari squeaked a 47-yarder over the crossbar. It would have been good from 48. Maybe.