BOCA RATON – When FAU needs to make a play on offense, the Owls can dial up a somewhat surprisingly long list of numbers.
For that, new coach Lane Kiffin offered praise for the former staff.
“Our offensive skills are pretty good,” Kiffin said. “We’ve got good tight ends, we’ve got good backs and we’ve got good receivers. They did a good job recruiting there.”
After accepting the job, Kiffin reasonably expected, considering the Owls are coming off three consecutive 3-9 seasons, that his pantry of players would be bare. While that’s held true in some spots – linebackers and offensive linemen are depleted by injuries, the defensive line remains thin – former coach Charlie Partridge and his staff left the Owls stocked at the skill positions.
So deep, in fact, that the coaching staff is still searching for a place to put one of the most prominent transfers in program history.
When former Georgia Bulldog running back A.J. Turman found himself buried behind Buddy Howell, Devin Singletary and Kerrith Whyte earlier this spring, the Owls asked him to give linebacker a shot. On Tuesday, Turman was back to wearing the red jersey that signifies he’s an offensive player, but he worked with the tight ends.
“He did some good things over there on defense,” Kiffin said. “We wanted to see really kind of a hybrid fullback-tight end because he’s a bigger guy – see what he looked like there. We still have the ability to put him back at running back like we did the other day in practice.”
At 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, Turman has the size to play tight end and showed decent hands in pass-catching drills on Tuesday. Even after the move, though, Turman remains buried on the depth chart behind sophomores Harrison Bryant and John Raine, both of whom are enjoying a strong spring.
Still, if Turman can demonstrate a usefulness at tight end, there’s intriguing upside.
“He could play there, then you wouldn’t know on defense where he was playing – whether he was going to be a tight end or a running back when he was in the game,” Kiffin said.
Kiffin and the Owls are running out of time this spring to get a true feel for what Turman could bring to the position.
FAU has only one more practice, on Thursday, before Saturday’s spring game – which signifies the end of spring workouts.
Following what he considered a sub-par practice on Tuesday, Kiffin believed his players were looking ahead to the spring game. That’s something Kiffin can’t be accused of doing.
“I’m really not worried about Saturday, yet,” Kiffin said. “We”ll figure it out. We don’t even know what the format is yet. We’ll see where our health is before that, then we’ll maximize the day.”
Kiffin said he’s hearing too much talk about the spring game. He’s purposefully not treating this week as a game week.
“It’s not a game,” Kiffin said. “That’s really just the 15th practice that’s going to be no different probably that what the [April 8] scrimmage was down in Fort Lauderdale as far as tackling in Saturday’s scrimmage format.”