BOCA RATON – In an offseason of turnover for FAU football, the Owls’ coaching staff wasn’t immune. When FAU takes the field for Tuesday’s start of spring practice, the Owls will do so with five new assistant coaches.
Approaching Tuesday we’re asking the five questions we most want answered by the close of spring’s 15 practices. We began by examining the FAU QB battle, before shifting our attention to the running back position. On Saturday we highlighted the unexpected attrition at the wide receiver spot. Now we’ll introduce some of the new FAU assistant coaches, while asking…
What Will Be The Effect Of All The New Assistant Coaches?
Lane Kiffin spent much of the offseason leading up to his third spring practice at FAU hiring coaches. When the Owls take the field on Tuesday they will do so with a new defensive coordinator, and new assistant coaches at defensive line, cornerback, offensive line and wide receiver.
Former Ole Miss coach Jason Jones is the newest addition to the staff, joining a couple of weeks ago. Jones played defensive back at Alabama and has previously coached at Rice and Tulsa. Prior to Ole Miss, Jones coached at Oklahoma St. alongside new defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer, who will also coach the linebackers.
Jones is the second assistant with SEC coaching experience to join the Owls this offseason. Lance Thompson, most recently of South Carolina, replaces Eric Mathies as the Owls defensive line coach. Thompson’s previously coached at Auburn and three different times at Alabama.
After offensive line coach John Garrison accepted the same job at North Carolina St., Lane Kiffin thought former Southern Cal offensive line coach Mike Summers would join the Owls in the same position. Summers made the move to Boca Raton, but like so many people do when they come to South Florida, he retired.
With Summers gone, Kiffin turned the position over to Jeff Norrid. An offensive analyst for the Owls last season, this will be Norrid’s first on-field coaching position. Previously he’s served as an analyst for Alabama, Auburn and Arkansas.
Kiffin also brought back former director of player development D.J. McCarthy, making him the Owls’ wide receivers coach. With FAU unexpectedly losing five players this offseason from the wide receiving unit, McCarthy may have the toughest job of any assistant. McCarthy previously coached wide receivers at LSU. He’s also coached at UCLA, UCF, Nevada and, most recently, in the CFL.
Spencer’s hiring should make the biggest impact. Charlotte ranked No. 22 last season in total defense, allowing 337.3 yards per game. Spencer will operate FAU’s defense out of a base 4-3, but last season at Charlotte he often used multiple defensive fronts. Such a move at FAU would take advantage of the undersized athleticism abundant on the Owls’ defense.
Will he, and all the new FAU coaches, be able to help the Owls rebound from a disappointing 2018 season? We’ll get our first look on Tuesday.