OWLACCESS.COM SUPERLATIVES: OFFENSIVE MVP | DEFENSIVE MVP | OFFENSIVE PLAY OF THE YEAR | DEFENSIVE PLAY OF THE YEAR | OFFENSIVE NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR | DEFENSIVE NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR | BIGGEST SURPRISE OFFENSIVELY | BIGGEST SURPRISE DEFENSIVELY | BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OFFENSIVELY | BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT DEFENSIVELY
BOCA RATON – FAU entered 2016 with a new offensive coordinator, a quarterback battle, a veteran backfield and what appeared to be the best offensive line in program history. The uncertainty before the season bled into the schedule once the games kicked off, leaving media and fans alike to wonder what the Owls would look like one week to the next. What was the Biggest Offensive Surprise? That’s the question we answer today. Joining our Chuck King and Jake Elman in offering their superlatives are three colleagues from ESPN West Palm: FAU play-by-play man Ken LaVicka, analyst Kris Bartels and producer (and host of OwlTalk) Brian Rowitz.
Chuck King (OwlAccess.com): Travis Trickett’s #NoHuddleNoMercy offense proved to pack more of a punchline than a punch. Throughout fall camp the offense played with pace. Quarterbacks Jason Driskel and Daniel Parr quickly distributed the ball to playmakers, who in turn made explosive plays. That offense didn’t exist on Saturdays until the final weeks of the season. By then it was too late. FAU averaged 398 yards and 26.4 points per game, raking No. 84 and No. 81 nationally. Even with the exploits of Buddy Howell and Devin Singletary, the point total was only an increase of four per game over the Brian Wright-led 2015 campaign.
Jake Elman (OwlAccess.com): Which is more of a surprising statistic: that Kalib Woods nearly had 1,000 receiving yards despite the inconsistency from the quarterback position, or that he only caught one touchdown? Even with the issues that seemed to be a weekly occurrence in the passing game, Woods managed to set career-highs in catches and yards in 2016, giving Jason Driskel and Daniel Parr a safety blanket that the tight end position was unable to provide. Look for Lane Kiffin and new offensive coordinator Kendal Briles to make it clear that the Owls’ passing offense in 2017 will be focused around the Jacksonville product.
Ken LaVicka (ESPN West Palm): Devin Singletary. Coaches were high on him, but it was a long shot he’d be able to take many snaps away from Howell and Jay Warren. He not only took snaps, he took their jobs. As a true freshman with expectations heaped on him, Singletary more than answered the bell.
Kris Bartels (ESPN West Palm): The biggest surprise on offense is how many receptions Kalib Woods had compared to everyone else. Don’t get me wrong, I expected big things from him this year. What I didn’t expect was for him to have 44 more receptions that the next wide receiver, Henry Bussey (24 rec). What might be a bigger surprise is the fact that Woods only had one touchdown reception. Woods’s route running improved, but his biggest improvement was his ability to make big time catches.
Brian Rowitz (ESPN West Palm): The quarterback play. Jason Driskel had the experience edge coming into the season but neither QB really seemed to take the next step during the season. Daniel Parr getting a start at Rice seemed to signal a new era at FAU but actually resulted in less playing time down the stretch. One of the QBs taking control of the job is going to be one of the most important parts of the FAU future.