The offense appears to be ahead of a defense that replaced its coordinator and three position coaches during the offseason.
The Owls’s scored 13 touchdowns on the afternoon, hitting big play after big play. What did we learn on Saturday? We have those answers in our Saturday Six Pick.
FAU SPRING FOOTBALL SATURDAY SIX PACK
1. FAU still has players who can carry the ball. The Owls lost their Top 2 ball carriers, Devin Singletary and Kerrith Whyte, from the 2018 season when both declared early for the draft. James Charles drew the start and showed some unexpected shiftiness. Speedy B. J. Emmons powered his way to a six-yard touchdown run. Daniel Laconte was well on his way to becoming a spring darling until he pulled up with an apparent leg injury and Malcolm Davidson caught a swing pass, turned up field, and raced 43 yards to the end zone.
2. The tight ends will make plays. With the wide receiver unit depleted by early exodus, FAU began the scrimmage by employing two tight end sets. Several of them featured Harrison Bryant lined up wide, creating obvious size mismatches. Both Bryant and John Raine caught touchdown passes.
3. The Owls are truly thin at wide receiver. Willie Wright is back in the slot. Pico Harrison started at times last season, but an undisclosed injury kept him out of action on Saturday. Redshirt sophomore Jordan Merrell appears to be making the most out of his opportunity. He caught two touchdowns on Saturday, including a 75-yarder. Walk-on Brandon Robinson earned playing time last year and appears to be a primary option. And walk-on Jefftey Joseph caught a couple scores. This unit will look different come fall camp, but for now there’s room to earn playing time.
4. The QB battle is real. Nick Tronti impressed enough on Saturday that even if suspended Chris Robison were playing, there would have been a challenge to the incumbent. Lane Kiffin said of JUCO transfer Justin Agner, “He makes a ton of plays.” Redshirt freshman Cordel Littlejohn needs to work on his accuracy and is at least a year away from contributing, but he scored on an electrifying run. Even Trent Wessell proved fun to watch. Get the feeling he could call his own plays.
5. The defense hasn’t changed much. New defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer brought with him a scheme that features a four man front, and the Owls operated primarily out of the nickel on Saturday – much as they did most of last season. It’s early in spring, so the defense figures to get a little more complex as more packages are installed, but nothing radically different showed yet on Saturday.
6. Linebacker Akileis Leroy can deliver a blow. It seemed like anytime there was a big hit on Saturday – and there were several – Leroy was close by. The heir apparent to Azeez Al-Shaair’s spot, Leroy is a bigger hitter than the Owls’ career tackles leader, and Kiffin expected nothing less. “He was that way in high school, he was that way on service team, he was that way on special teams,” Kiffin said. “Playing toward the end of the year, he was that way on defense. He’s always had a unique skill set from a strength and striking standpoint.”
EXTRA POINT: Defensive end Damian Horton seems of have taken to Spencer’s defense. The redshirt senior played mostly with the second team but did see some first team snaps on Saturday, making plays when he saw the field. During one series Horton sacked the quarterback, batted down a pass and pressured the QB on third down. Horton earned late playing time last season and might be an interesting guy to watch as spring progresses.
-Wajih Al Baroudi contributed to this story