It will be the Owls’ fourth scrimmage in five weeks and, despite a roster size limited by injuries, academic suspensions and transfers, will feature live tackling – at least for the first half.
Three scrimmages provided a pretty good idea as to what to expect from the Owls. The defense struggled early, the offense struggled late.
Saturday’s scrimmage is closed to the public – that hasn’t changed – but the media can attend. What will we be watching for in the final scrimmage? Plenty.
1. Run, run away. FAU’s rushing game has been absent the past two scrimmages. The Owls haven’t scored a rushing touchdown since the first scrimmage – all the way back in March. Can BJ Emmons continue his growth and make a strong claim on the starting running back spot heading into the fall? “Of course you want to wrap things up strong, right?” Emmons said. “But you approach every scrimmage the same. You just want to improve and show them that you are that guy.”
2. Those DTs. Charles Cameron and Noah Jefferson make for a formidable force in the middle of the defensive line. Cameron’s been a beast all spring. Jefferson, however, hasn’t played in the two previous scrimmages after being benched for academic reasons. He returned to the practice field this week. It’s unclear how much Jefferson will play and with which unit, but if he’s on the field with Cameron, it will be a must watch.
3. Catching on. John Mitchell has made big plays this spring but has yet to show the consistency the Owls need. Willie Wright hasn’t been all that impressive this spring. Pico Harrison’s groin injury should once again keep him out of the scrimmage, but there’s no reason to believe it won’t be fine come the fall. Tight ends Harrison Bryant and John Raine have been the biggest pass catching threats this spring. Can James Brunson or Ladante Harris give Kiffin a reason not to immediately place incoming freshmen ahead of them on the depth chart come the start of fall camp?
4. Defensive Young Guns. We wrote earlier this week about sophomore safety Teja Young’s strong spring. Redshirt freshman safety Armani Adams has the look of a future star, and took some snaps with the first team this week. Redshirt sophomore Ahman Ross looks like he can thrive in a variety of roles, and true freshman Dwight Toombs made his share of plays. Will the Young guns close spring with a strong effort.
5. Oh yeah, the quarterbacks. Lane Kiffin suspended incumbent starting quarterback Chris Robison for the entirety of spring practices, and even though the redshirt sophomore has been more visible around the Oxley Center these last two weeks there’s no indication Kiffin will lift that suspension for Saturday. It’s hard to believe that Kiffin will simply hand the job back to Robison come the fall, so this is a chance for either Nick Tronti or Justin Agner to position themselves to be in direct competition with Robison. Tronti has the edge at the moment, but not by much.