FAU SUPERLATIVES: Offensive Newcomer of the Year | Defensive Newcomer of the Year | Offensive Most Improved | Defensive Most Improved | Offensive Unsung Hero | Defensive Unsung Hero | Biggest Offensive Surprise
BOCA RATON – Through all the complexities of play design, successful offensive football at its core is simple: get your best players involved early and often.
FAU did neither with talented tight ends Harrison Bryant and John Raine far too often this season.
Like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, a myriad of players manned the receiver spot opposite standout Jovon Durante to no avail. Yet the Owls continued to look for production from the outside rather than consistently funneling their passing game through Bryant and Raine on the inside.
They did so in only two stretches this season, and the stats were gaudy.
Bryant and Raine caught fire in weeks five through seven, averaging a combined 6.7 receptions, 81 yards and a touchdown per game. That was coming off a slow opening month which saw them average only 2.7 receptions for 34.2 yards per game with no scores.
From the looks of that dominant midseason stretch, it seemed FAU had committed to getting its tight ends the ball. But, in one of the biggest surprises of the season, it stopped utilizing Bryant and Raine as frequently.
FAU’s pass target distribution reverted to its early season ways in the following three weeks, Bryant and Raine getting held out of the end zone and averaging a measly 2.3 receptions for 30.7 yards per game.
The pendulum swung back in their direction over the final two games, however, the pair hauling in a combined 15 receptions for 289 yards and two touchdowns.
It was difficult to pin down which of the season’s litany of surprises stood out the most, but Bryant and Raine’s up-and-down usage narrowly edged out Kerrith Whyte’s rise from seldom-used scatback to star for this superlative.
The aforementioned Durante is out of the picture for FAU next season after he announced earlier this month he would forgo his senior season to enter the NFL Draft. And with his departure creating a hole in an already-thin receiving corp, the Owls might have no choice but to feed Bryant and Raine a big chunk of their passing game in 2019.