BOCA RATON – FAU’s defense bested , and at times battered, the Owls’ offense for the third time in four tries, physically dominating for long periods of Saturday’s scrimmage, which concluded Florida Atlantic’s spring practices.
The offense actually started quickly but struggled to maintain that early momentum.
For the most part the scrimmage reinforced much of what already believed with regard to the Owls this spring. The units that struggled much of the spring didn’t fare too well on Saturday. Those that enjoyed a good spring generally capped the spring with successful outings.
What stood out to us on Saturday? Here’s our final Saturday six pack of the spring.
FAU Final Scrimmage Saturday Six Pack
1. Lack of WR depth is glaring. A groin injury kept Pico Harrison from playing any of the spring scrimmages. John Mitchell didn’t play on Saturday because of a minor undisclosed injury. Jefftey Joseph, who enjoyed a good first scrimmage, didn’t play either. The remainder of FAU’s wide receivers struggled to get open, almost completely removing deep or even intermediate completions to wide outs on Saturday. It’s a major concern heading into the fall. Of note, unheralded walk-on D’Angelo Eiland delivered some exciting plays this spring and could make a bid to contribute in the fall. He set up his own short touchdown catch from Trent Wessel by catching an out route, faking Andrew Carrie out of his shoes, and racing more than 60 yards.
2. Young DBs continue to impress. With starting strong safety Zyon Gilbert sitting this one out and free safety Da’Von Brown limited, Armani Adams and Teja Young received their first extended action of the spring. Adams picked off two passes and delivered a big hit. Young, who may have been battling the flu, played well. And one play after registering a sack Ahman Ross delivered a viscous hit to running back Daniel Leconte, which left both players stunned. Dwight Toombs made some plays in the secondary and in the offensive backfield, completing a solid first showing for the true freshman.
3. The quarterback position remains unsettled. Nick Tronti began the scrimmage by leading one of the few long, sustained drives of the spring, but he also fumbled without being touched and threw an interception. Agner’s unforced fumble resulted in a Marcel Southall return for a touchdown. Suspended incumbent starter Chris Robison is expected back in the fall. FAU appears headed for a three-way battle.
4. The running back unit performed better but still has a ways to go. On the first possession of the scrimmage BJ Emmons delivered the Owls’ first rushing touchdown since the first scrimmage. He appeared to have a little more juice than in recent weeks. James Charles still looks slippery, and he added a rushing touchdown. But the first carry of the day went to Leconte. Listed at 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, Leconte plays bigger than his size while flashing surprising speed. He returned from that big hit Ross delivered to race 70 yards for a score. Coach Lane Kiffin says he’s not certain why the Owls nicknamed Leconte “Muscle Beach,” but he did compare Leconte’s spring to the spring Silver Saunders had last year. Leconte still has a ways to go to claim playing time come fall, but he entertained this spring.
5. FAU’s interior defensive line enjoyed another good day. Charles Cameron wasn’t spectacular on Saturday, but he was solid. Noah Jefferson returned after missing the previous two scrimmages but looked rusty. Will Davis enjoyed his best scrimmage of the spring, scooping up a fumble. But the rising star on Saturday was Jaylen Joyner, who spent much of Saturday in the backfield.
6. BJ Emmons is returning kickoffs. If the season started today it appears as though the former Alabama running back would get the first shot at kickoff returns. Kiffin did the same with big running back Tyrek Tisdale when that duo first arrived in Boca Raton. It didn’t work out so well. Tisdale injured his knee early in his freshman season and hasn’t been the same since. James Brunson is currently the No. 2 kickoff returner, but some of the talented incoming freshman will likely get to prove their worth as returners once they arrive on campus.
Extra Point: The Owls entered spring with plenty of questions on offense and they didn’t appear to solve many of them. Regardless of whether Robison is back, the QB situation will be unsettled at the start of fall camp. Emmons didn’t take control of the starting running back spot, though he did improve. The wide receiver unit is a flat-out mess. And the offensive line struggled to block FAU’s new defensive scheme throughout the spring. Tight ends Harrison Bryant and John Raine were the only two offensive players deserving a high grade this spring.