BOCA RATON – The decimation along FAU’s offensive line is doing more than slowing down the Owls’ offense on Saturdays.
The inconsistency and inexperience up front is also making it challenging for coaches to judge the developmental progress of first-year starting quarterback Jason Driskel and his understudy, Daniel Parr.
“You wish it was a deal where if you have a young quarterback, that the guys around him were experienced and solid, and you could really get a true [read],” offensive coordinator Travis Trickett said.
On Tuesday FAU announced that tackle Bryan Beck had been lost for the season because of a knee injury. Beck becomes the third lineman who started at least three games in his career to be lost for the season. A fourth, senior Kelly Parfitt, suffered a knee injury in the season’s second game, returned briefly in the Owls’ most recent outing at Marshall; then left again after re-injuring the knee. His future availability is now uncertain.
Against Western Kentucky, the Owls’ eighth game of the season, FAU will start its eighth different offensive line combination.
The upheaval is forcing coaches to evaluate Driskel and Parr primarily by what they do prior to the snap rather than what happens during plays.
“It’s a good evaluation for us to see, who’s the consistent guy?” Trickett said. “Who’s the guy who’s going be Steady Eddie, get us in the right look, the right motions, all that kind of stuff. It’s growing them up, too.”
Driskel, a redshirt sophomore who has thrown four touchdowns against six interceptions while completing 59 percent of his passes, says he’s never been part of a team that has seen a position group so depleted by injuries.
The Owls have limited their play calls to ensure everyone is on the same page and can execute the calls, but Driskel says there are still plenty of opportunities in every play for him to grow as a quarterback.
“Even in our most routine plays there’s a lot of intricacies and stuff like that,” he said. “I still get to make the decisions out there. I’m the one with the ball in my hands every play.”
Increasingly Parr has the ball in his hands, too.
In each of the past two games FAU inserted Parr into the lineup for the third series of the game with the intention of aiding the redshirt freshman’s development.
Parr also piloted three second half drives against Charlotte. He’s completed eight of 18 passes for 78 yards, doing so without a touchdown or interception.
FAU used a similar QB rotation last season, when Driskel took over from Quez Johnson for a series or two.
That gave Driskel firsthand knowledge of how a little playing time can speed the development of a young quarterback. He is also finding that Parr’s game experience is making the duo’s sideline conversations more beneficial.
“It’s just an educated conversation between two people that are playing the same position,” Driskel said. “It’s more of a conversation with a peer, and that’s helpful.”
Trickett indicated that Parr will see at least one series on Saturday against Western Kentucky, which may benefit Driskel as well.
“It helps me to step back and look at the game from a sideline view and from a big picture,” Driskel said. “And to help him out is also helping me out a lot. It’s hard to explain, but when you get to see it from the side, when you get to really break it down when they’re not coming after you and playing defense against you helps me a lot.”