He says it’s easily correctable missed assignments that are keeping the Owls from productivity.
“You just want to bite your nails because if we could just make this one assignment, it would be perfect,” Johnson said.
FAU’s offense has several factors working against it this spring. For starters, both participants in the quarterback battle, Johnson and Chris Robison, played little football last season. Johnson sat out all but a few plays in the season opener following surgery to remove blood clots in his arm. Robison ran the scout team after transferring from Oklahoma,
They also aren’t given much time to make plays. FAU returns all but one starter from last year’s defense, where the offense only returns five. Complicating matters, the second-string offensive line is completely new, and is being dominated by an experienced second-string defensive line, leaving whichever quarterback who is piloting the second string at the time under constant pressure.
“Both of them are taking too many sacks,” coach Lane Kiffin said. “That’s a product of not playing, too.”
On Saturday, the quarterback-to-receiver connection was missing. Johnson and Robison constantly dumped passes to their tight ends or running backs, but the first and second team receivers combined to catch only a handful of downfield passes all day.
At the beginning of spring Kiffin said he expected the quarterback battle to carry into the fall. With only two practices remaining before Saturday’s spring game, he isn’t worried about their progress.
“The good thing is they’re very talented,” Kiffin said. “You can’t coach talent. We can probably coach them out of the things they aren’t doing right.”
SpringFling: Saturday’s Scrimmage Browser
Making Plays: Wide receiver Kyle Davis, a transfer from Auburn, made an impressive catch ripping the ball out of Dasean Cannon’s hands on a 15-yard comeback route. Later in the day, Davis skied to bring down a 20-yard Robison pass while falling out of bounds. …Ernest Bagner and Steven Leggett ran a tackle-end stunt where they rushed in each other’s respective gaps and met in the backfield to pick up a sack of Johnson. …Leggett flew off the ball and knocked over Tarrick Thomas to bring down Gerald Hearns for a goal line stop. Bagner bull rushed Robert Hawkins and threw him to the side with ease before sacking Johnson. …Brandon Robinson caught a crossing route over the middle from Robison and got drilled by Herb Miller, who had momentum running from his nickel spot. …Ladante Harris caught a bubble screen on the left hash from Johnson, picked up a nice block from Bobby Mitchell and raced for a 30-yard gain before being pushed out of bounds by Korel Smith.
Tracking the Depth Chart: Quran Hafiz and Ocie Rose played significant snaps at first-team safety on Saturday with Jalen Young being limited with a minor injury. … Running back James Charles is working his way back from injury and showed speed and slippery ability out of the backfield in his limited reps with the second-team offense. … Kris Harris out snapped Hosea Barnwell in second-team linebacker work. … Hearns was once again the first-team running back with Singletary out. …Cornerback James Pierre took some reps as a kick returner.
QB Battle: While both quarterbacks struggled, Johnson’s two touchdowns paced him ahead of Robison in Saturday’s scrimmage. They both looked to make plays that weren’t there, something Kiffin knows he needs to change. “Too many sacks, quarterbacks [are] holding on to the ball too long.” Kiffin said. “There are too many times where they have to throw the ball away and instead they hold on to it or try to run around and make a play.”
Instant Message: “Once I see that ball in the air I’m going to go and get it.” – Wide receiver Jovon Durante, who made the offensive play of the day by hauling in a 50-yard Johnson TD pass despite double coverage
Browser compiled by: Wajih Al Baroudi