BOCA RATON – FAU has suffered it’s first notable season-ending setback along the offensive line.
Coach Lane Kiffin said on Tuesday that offensive lineman Matt Weiner has a torn ACL and will miss the season.
A walk-on redshirt junior, Weiner worked his way into the starting lineup last season when the Owls suffered a rash of injuries.
Weiner spent most of fall camp working with the second team but did see some snaps with the first team, mostly when injuries warranted.
“I thought he was as good as some of our scholarship guys,” Kiffin said. “Did a really good job for us. Really was improving. I think that’s an unfortunate injury for him and us.”
One of the Owls’ most versatile linemen, Weiner played both guard and tackle.
Kiffin said Weiner actually played in Saturday’s scrimmage despite having already suffered the injury, “which says a lot about him.”
Injuries decimated FAU’s offensive line last season, prompting the Owls to start a different combination of five in nearly every game.
Those injuries began with Reggie Bain’s motor scooter accident one week before the start of the season. Tarrick Thomas, Kelly Parfitt, Roman Fernandez, Antonyo Woods, Jack Breshears and Bryan Beck, all of whom started at least one game last season, missed games in 2016 because of injury.
The injuries to Beck, Breshears and Thomas caused the trio to miss spring practices. Thomas returned for fall camp. Breshears missed some of fall camp, while Beck missed all of fall camp.
Both Breshears and Beck returned to the practice field on Monday when the start of practice allowed for the expansion of the Owls’ roster.
All are candidates to see second team action.
Meanwhile along the line, redshirt senior Jakobi Smith may be in the process of supplanting transfer William Tuihalamaka at the starting right guard spot.
“He flashes, and so our challenge to him is to play that way all the time,” Kiffin said of Smith. “He has five plays a day that are as good as anybody on our team – if not better – up front, but then there’s a number of plays that aren’t. That’s been in an issue with him in the past. I think he has improved but, again, we need consistency, not one play on, one play off.”
A promotion for Smith would mark the end of a relatively stable couple of weeks along the offensive line which featured Bain at left tackle, Fernandez at left guard, Woods at center and Brandon Walton at right tackle.
Should those four remain unchanged and Smith draw the start for the Sept. 1 season-opener against Navy, all five members of FAU’s starting offensive line will enter the game possessing starting experience.