FAU Owls 2016 Preview and Prediction


#103 FAU Owls





HEAD COACH: Charlie Partridge, 6-18 (2 years) | OFF. COORDINATOR: Travis Trickett | DEF. COORDINATOR: Roc Bellantoni

FAU has gone 3-9 in each of Charlie Partridge's two seasons as head coach. A new offensive identity and a more experienced roster are hoping to at least double that win total in Year 3, as the Owls aim for bowl eligibility this fall.

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Previewing FAU’s Offense for 2016  

Along with installing the #NoHuddleNoMercy up-tempo offense he brought from Samford, new offensive coordinator Travis Trickett’s biggest task will be choosing a quarterback. The candidates are young but talented. Sophomore Jason Driskel — younger brother of Jeff, the former Florida and Louisiana Tech QB — started two games and saw action in 10, throwing for 965 yards, three TDs and four interceptions. Freshman Daniel Parr spurned a late recruiting push from Miami to sign with FAU — then wowed coaches with arm strength and playbook mastery while redshirting last season. Even before the start of spring practices, coach Charlie Partridge proclaimed that the Driskel/Parr battle would carry into fall camp — maybe longer.

Whichever signal caller Trickett, son of FSU offensive line coach Rick Trickett, ultimately selects will benefit from a deep crop of ball carriers. In junior Buddy Howell and senior Jay Warren, the Owls return two backs who have combined to start 15 games and rush for 1,871 yards over the past two seasons. Future feature back Devin Singletary, an incoming freshman who flipped from Illinois to FAU on Signing Day, could become a factor this season.

Nate Terry is primed to emerge as the Owls’ main receiving threat. At 6'6" with long arms, Terry made the move from tight end to slot receiver in the spring, and his adaptation delighted coaches. He should continue to be a strong red zone threat. Sliding Terry wide opens more playing time for tight end Tyler Cameron, who transferred to FAU from Wake Forest as a quarterback prior to last season but moved to tight end and became an unexpected threat in 2015.

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Previewing FAU’s Defense for 2016 

FAU’s 2015 youth movement strongly positioned the Owls for this season. At 6'4", 280 pounds and possessing good power and speed, end Trey Hendrickson is the elder statesman. He’s not the kind of player who usually makes his way to FAU. Hendrickson’s 13.5 sacks tied for second in the nation last season, but with tackles Trevon Coley and Brandin Bryant now pursuing NFL careers, Hendrickson will have to try to repeat that performance against offenses geared to negate him.

Tackles Ray Ellis and Steven Leggett are run stoppers who are still developing pass-rush technique. FAU has demonstrated a surprising willingness to start a true freshman at defensive tackle, and incoming freshman Kevin McCrary is the most heralded defensive lineman ever signed by FAU.

The defense will be young, but it will be experienced. FAU played 10 true freshmen on defense and special teams last year, and the youngsters proved worthy of the playing time. Linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair led the Owls with 94 tackles, earning Freshman All-America honors from one outlet.

The three touchdowns Ocie Rose scored last season were only two off the team lead — and he was the nickel back. Jalen Young intercepted three passes and made 69 tackles.

Related: Athlon's 2016 College Football Rankings: No. 1 to 128

Previewing FAU’s Specialists for 2016  

Dalton Schomp led the nation in punting last season, averaging 48.0 yards, but is it ever a positive to put an image of the punter on the cover of the spring media guide, like FAU did? Schomp is the leading name in what has been an average-at-best special teams unit. FAU signed Landon Scheer in 2014, touting him as the top kicker in the nation. He’s yet to beat out walk-on Greg Joseph. 

Final Analysis

Entering his third season as FAU coach, Partridge has a team athletic enough to compete with every program in Conference USA. With non-conference home games against Southern Illinois and Ball State, anything short of bowl eligibility will be disappointing. If the young quarterbacks can quickly get a handle on Trickett’s offense, the Owls should head into conference play with momentum for the first time since, well, ever.