The Owls are divided into Red and Gray teams with offensive and defensive starters split fairly evenly among both squads.
Quarterbacking the red team, Nick Tronti will be handing the ball to the likes BJ Emmons, and throwing it to Harrison Bryant, John Raine and Willie Wright.
Justin Agner will have James Charles with him in the backfield, with John Mitchell and Jordan Merrell as receiving targets for Gray.
The Gray defense has more starters, including linebackers Rashad Smith and Akileis Leroy, safeties Zyon Gilbert and Da’von Brown, and defensive ends Leighton McCarthy and Tim Bonner. Defensive ends Damian Horton and Marcel Southall, along with linebacker Hosea Barnwell anchor the Red team.
Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m., with an alumni game set for halftime. What will we be watching on Saturday? Glad you asked.
What We’ll Be Watching Offensively
Chuck King: Keeping Harrison Bryant and John Raine on the same team sets Red up for production out of two tight end sets. Bryant split wide frequently during the first spring scrimmage but not so much last week. Look for him out wide much of Saturday, and expect Raine to get plenty of targets, too.
Wajih Al Baroudi: The fluid running back rotation. Don’t expect a workhorse this Saturday for either side, as FAU is frequently rotating its backs based on different on-field situations. Emmons will be the bruiser on early downs and the goal line for Red; Gray’s James Charles is a shifty runner who’s best in the open field; and Gray’s Daniel Leconte is a strong pass catcher. Malcolm Davidson is a one-cut back that relies on his speed, but he isn’t listed on either roster.
What We’ll Be Watching Defensively
King: Several times during last week’s scrimmage defensive end Leighton McCarthy lined up at middle linebacker as part of the scheme for that particular defensive play. Will he do that again on Saturday for the Gray? Having both shed significant weight during the offseason, do Southall or Horton have the speed to do the same for Red?
Al Baroudi: Blitzes from the secondary. FAU is still working on communication across its new-look offensive line, and defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer will take advantage of those growing pains. Spencer will send pressure from the nickel cornerback and safety positions, making FAU’s tackles move more than they’re used to.
Predicted Offensive MVP
King: Mitchell is due for a breakout at wide receiver on Saturday and flashed at times late last year and this spring, but fellow wide out Merrell has been more consistent. Let’s say this is Merrell’s day, but if both of them perform well, that will likely mean that Tronti enjoyed a big afternoon.
Al Baroudi: Harrison Bryant. The 6-5 Georgia native will be the unquestioned No. 1 target on a team lacking receiver depth. Bryant’s been lining up everywhere from out wide, to the slot and in line this spring. But no matter where he is when the ball’s snapped, his tremendous contested-catch ability stands out.
Predicted Defensive MVP
King: Cornerback Chris Tooley intercepted a pass in both of the first two scrimmages. He’ll get at least one more on Saturday for the Gray team. Southall, Horton and Charles Cameron will all be playing against what is essentially the Owls’ second string offensive line, so they should be able to apply pressure.
Al Baroudi: Akileis Leroy. The hard-hitting linebacker was a tackling machine all spring and that shouldn’t change on the bigger stage. His standout teammate Smith will demand most of the second-level attention from the offensive line, giving Leroy ample opportunities to make plays in the backfield.
Deep Depth Chart Offensive MVP
King: Love to say Red quarterback Trent Wessell here. He knows the offense and has thrown three touchdowns across the first two scrimmages. But Gray running back Laconte has looked even better this spring and could work his way into the running back rotation once the season starts.
Al Baroudi: Lavante Epson. Starting right guard Nick Weber is recovering from a staph infection and will miss the spring game, giving Epson a great opportunity to make a mark in his place. The JUCO transfer’s strength and athleticism is unquestioned; but his football acumen is. If Epson picks up the playbook well tomorrow and displays the mauling style that got him recruited to FAU in the first place, he can push himself into the starting conversation come fall.
Deep Depth Chart Defensive MVP
King: Redshirt freshman Teja Young is listed at cornerback on the roster but has mostly played free safety this spring. He’s shown a propensity for being around the ball throughout the spring and appears to be a guy who could quickly develop into a contributor.
Al Baroudi: Armani Adams. Whether he’s stuffing outside runs or defending deep passes, Adams always seems to be in the right place at the right time. The redshirt-freshman who will be wearing Red is rangy and athletic enough to cover a ton of ground in coverage, and physical enough to thump ball carriers who come his way in the run game.