No. 9: Injuries Decimate FAU Football
The first hit came early. On the second day of fall camp starting defensive tackle Ray Ellis tore his ACL. The Owls hadn’t even donned pads yet, and they had lost a veteran for the year. Ellis would have plenty of company on the sidelines. Starting left tackle Reggie Bain broke his hip in a motor scooter accident the week prior to the start of the season. That started a rash of injuries to offensive linemen that left Dillon DeBoer as the lone lineman to start every game.
Tarrick Thomas, Bryan Beck, Jack Breshears and Richard Williams – all offensive lineman – would need surgery to repair injuries suffered during the season. Starters Kelly Parfitt, Antonyo Woods and Roman Fernandez all missed games.
On the defensive side of the ball, it was the linebacking unit that suffered most of the issues. Already short scholarship players heading into the season, starting middle linebacker Nate Ozemir missed the final four games, starting outside linebacker Khantrell Burden began the season hurt and never fully recovered, his replacement Rashad Smith missed time – as did Jerrad Ward.
The injuries even carried over into the spring when, without 2016 leading tackler Azeez Al-Shaair, the Owls played nearly all spring with only two scholarship linebackers and all of the surgically-repaired offensive linemen mentioned above missed spring.
To top it off, Daniel Parr wasn’t able to make it a three-way quarterback battle in the spring because he underwent foot surgery for an injury incurred during offseason training.
What We Wrote
Reggie Bain Out for the Season
More Offensive Line Movement
No Simple Answer to Offensive Line Injuries
Line Shuffling Root of Offensive Problems
Another Loss: Tarrick Thomas Injured
Injuries Alter Offensive Play Calling
Feel The Pain: Williams to Miss Spring
Hold The Line: More O-Line Injuries
Crazy Eights: FAU Looking At Eighth Different O-Line Combo
Spring Out: Al-Shaair To Miss Spring Practice
Daniel Parr To Miss Spring Practice
Injury Situation Reminds Kiffin of USC Scholarship Reductions
Why It’s Important
Blame the Owls’ 2016 offensive troubles on the quarterback position if you’d like, but neither Jason Driskel nor Parr had much time to throw playing behind what was a patchwork offensive line all season. Without continuity along that line, the offense sputtered. It never seemed to have any flow.
On those times when the offense did produce, the defense frequently couldn’t do its part. Linebackers are the heart of any defense, and the Owls simply ran out of them, too. Injuries also kept the Owls from developing a credible threat at defensive end opposite Trey Hendrickson.
Injuries happen in football. Winning teams overcome injuries. But when all those injuries are concentrated at one or two positions like they were for FAU in 2016, there comes a point where there isn’t much more a coach can do. Injuries weren’t the only reason FAU finished 3-9 last season, but they were certainly one of the most important contributing factors.
No. 10: Baseball Relationship Ballpark of the Palm Beaches
No. 9: Football Beset by Injuries
No. 8: The Quarterback Battles
No. 7: Schmidt Complex: It’s a Start
No. 6: Buckeye Surprise
No. 5: The Sirens Call
No. 4: One Stormy Week
No. 3: Partridge Fired
No. 2: Forgettable Seasons
No. 1: The Lane Train