BOCA RATON – Florida Atlantic will have its starting quarterback but will be without its starting running back when the Owls kickoff at No. 22 Marshall on Saturday, sources tell OwlAccess.com.
Quarterback Nick Tronti missed significant practice times over the last couple weeks after being identified during contact tracing, then testing positive for COVID-19.
But was back practicing with the Owls by the end of this week and is expected to start on Saturday.
The news isn’t as good for running back BJ Emmons, who did not make the trip to Huntington, W.V., on Friday with the Owls.
Emmons sprained an ankle early in the Owls’ Oct. 3 season-opening victory over Charlotte. The Owls had been hoping to have him back for Saturday.
FAU is expecting to have Malcolm Davidson, last season’s leading rusher, available on Saturday. That might not have been the case had the Owls played Southern Miss as scheduled on Oct. 10. Davidson has been battling a hamstring injury since the Charlotte game but may have caught a break when the game at Southern Miss had to be postponed because of FAU’s COVID-19 outbreak. The ensuing bye week afforded Davidson an additional week to heal.
Hamstring issues plagued Davidson last season, causing him to miss a couple game.
Fellow running back James Charles pronounced himself healthy and ready to go earlier this week after suffering what coach Willie Taggart called a “stinger” against Charlotte.
FAU will also have quarterback Justin Agner available on Saturday. Agner missed the Charlotte game because of COVID issues.
With Tronti and other quarterbacks being sidelined by COVID over the past couple weeks, Agner returned and led the offense during several practices. Tronti, however, is expected to start on Saturday.
Against Charlotte, his first career start, Tronti completed 11 of 22 passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns. He also led FAU in rushing with 94 yards, including a 49-yard TD.
While the Owls did have many players emerge from COVID-induced quarantine or isolation in the days leading up to Saturday’s contest, the list of players who couldn’t travel on Friday still numbered in double digits and could be as high as 20.
Marshall (4-0, 2-0) entered the AP Top 25 this week following a 35-17 victory over Louisiana Tech.
FAU (1-0, 1-0) has never beaten a ranked opponent. This will be the Owls’ first road game under first-year coach Willie Taggart.