BOCA RATON – FAU football begins its spring football practice, the third under coach Lane Kiffin, on Tuesday. Spring is a time for experimentation. It’s when younger players show they are ready to assume greater roles. It offers an opportunity for coaches to determine which holes need to be plugged before the season.
In the coming days we’ll examine five questions FAU will hope to answer this spring. We’re starting where we always seem to start.
Will FAU Have A Quarterback?
At this point, it’s difficult to imagine an FAU spring practice that doesn’t feature some sort of battle. FAU hasn’t entered a spring reasonably settled at quarterback since early in the Charlie Partridge era. And even then, Quez Johnson didn’t exactly have a stranglehold on the job.
Chris Robison is the incumbent this season, and he’ll have the opportunity to cement his hold on the position over the next five weeks.
Robison performed inconsistently last season, as redshirt freshmen often do. He threw for 2,540 yards and 12 touchdowns, adding 211 yards and three more scores on the ground. Yet the Owls’ offense struggled at key times last season, a major reason they failed to achieve bowl eligibility.
An underwhelming wide receiver unit did little to help Robison’s development, but he also made the kinds of mistakes that keep teams from winning games.
Still, he started for a reason. Robison is unquestionably athletic and can fit balls into tight spaces. He can extend plays, but often only long enough to make curious decisions. Quarterbacks in particular tend to take their biggest leaps forward between their first and second years. If Robison follows that trend, this quarterback battle could end rather quickly.
Well, Nick Tronti signed with Indiana after being Florida’s Mr. Football in 2016. He left the Hoosiers after one season and actually played in a game for the Owls last season, handing off twice against Bethune-Cookman.
Tronti had the advantage of spending a season learning the Owls system – much like Robison did the year prior. It’s unlikely that Tronti could leave spring as the named starter but a strong early spring showing could prompt Kiffin to put off his QB decision into the fall.
The departure of De’Andre Johnson, who transferred to Texas Southern, should lead to redshirt freshman Cordel Littlejohn seeing an increased number of snaps, but unless Littlejohn’s taken a large step forward with his mechanics, he is still a year away.
Former Kent St. quarterback Justin Agner is on campus as a walk-on. He hasn’t played much over the past two years because of a knee injury so he’ll likely begin the spring by adding depth to the position. Agner started a game for the Flashes against Penn St. as a true freshman, so he has talent, but the most he can hope to do this spring is impress enough to enter the fall QB battle conversation.
Speaking of fall camp, that’s when 2019 signee Javion Posey arrives on campus to, perhaps, thicken the plot.