CFN: FAU 2009 Preview....
CFN: FAU 2009 Preview....
After 24 years as a head coach and eight seasons spent building the Florida Atlantic football program, Howard Schnellenberger isnít exactly going to change up his world now.
6-0 in bowl games with 148 wins and a national title to his credit, Schellenberger might be the most underappreciated head coach in college football. While heís not within 100 miles of a Joe Paterno or Bobby Bowden-like legendary status, heís one of the most unique figures in the game and he has done the near impossible at FAU. He has created a consistent winner.
Itís one thing to come up with a shocker of a championship season, like he and his team did in 2007 with a Sun Belt title, but itís another to create an atmosphere and a program that can overcome adversity. The first half of last year was an utter disaster, starting out 1-5 with losses to Middle Tennessee and Troy killing any hope of repeating as the Sun Belt champions. Even worse, considering the high expectations set for the veteran team, was how it was blown out by the big names losing to Texas, Michigan State, and Minnesota by a combined score of 106 to 13.
But the Owls rallied with a four-game winning streak and with six wins in the final seven despite not being all that great. There wasnít any pass rush, there were too many turnovers, the special teams were awful, and there werenít enough plays from a supposedly decent defense. But Schnellenberger has seen it all before, he knows what heís doing, and heís going to come up with another winning season.
It all starts with QB Rusty Smith, the first star for the young program and the standard-bearer for all future Owl passers. He and the great receiving corps should be able to bomb their way to wins over most Sun Belt teams. Getting the offense might be a must with another tough season almost certain from a rebuilding defense, but FAU is now good enough, and deep enough, to be in the hunt of the Sun Belt title all season long and, at the very least, get to a bowl game.
What to watch for on offense: A better year from the passing game. Itís not like FAU was all that bad throwing the ball, it finished first in the Sun Belt, but it wasnít an efficient passing game and it wasnít consistent. With Smith a sure-thing veteran, the return of TE Jason Harmon, and with Cortez Gent one of the Sun Beltís top weapons, expect far more than 255 passing yards per game.
What to watch for on defense: A decent year from an unheralded linebacking corps. Two starters have to be replaced, with the loss of 154-tackling middle linebacker Frantz Joseph a killer, but thereís good potential with Malik Eugene and Michael Lockley working around veteran Edward Bradwell. If super-recruit Toney Moore is ready for primetime from day one, the linebackers could even be a strength.
The team will be far better if Ö there's more pressure in the backfield and there's some semblance of a punting game Ö that was what was needed going into last year and things havenít changed. After finishing 112th in the nation in net punting in 2007, the Owls improved to 111th. The pass rush generated 16 sacks two years ago and 68 tackles for loss, and got worse with just 13 sacks and 58 tackles for loss last season. Considering the pass defense allowed opposing quarterback to complete 64% of their passes, the team desperately needs some sort of a pass rush.
The Schedule: The non-conference schedule isnít all that bad after starting out the season at Nebraska and at South Carolina. Would it be a stop-the-world shocker if FAU won either of those two games? Maybe, but it wouldnít be an upset if there were wins over Wyoming and UAB. The three road trips in a four week span in mid-season could make-or-break the year, but going on the road to face Troy on November 21st is the biggest problem. At least Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee have to come to Boca Raton.
Best Offensive Player: Senior QB Rusty Smith. A special passer, a leader, and the type of player the rest of the rebuilding team can rally around, Smith is poised for a possible Sun Belt Player of the Year season. While his numbers werenít as strong throwing for 3,224 yards and 24 scores with 14 interceptions after throwing for 3,688 yards and 32 touchdowns with nine interceptions, Smith should bounce back and throw closer to 4,000 yards.
Best Defensive Player: Junior FS Ed Alexander. Overshadowed a bit by others in the secondary, Alexander came up with a nice sophomore season with 42 stops, three interceptions and two broken up passes. A thin playmaker with great speed and decent tackling skills, he does a little of everything well and he could become an all-star if he can pick off a few more passes.
Key player to a successful season: Sophomore DE Jamere Johnson. The Owls desperately, desperately need a pass rush. The 6-4, 220-pound Johnson has a great burst off the line and looks the part of a big-time sack artist. If heís not, the line will have to hope some of the lackluster veterans have to find something different.
The season will be a success if … FAU wins the Sun Belt title. This isnít the best team in the Sun Belt and it might not even be in the top three, but with a quarterback like Smith and excellent athleticism across the board, anything less, at this point in the programís brief history, is unacceptable. More realistically, just getting to a bowl game would make for a solid year.
Key game: Nov. 21 at Troy. The Middle Tennessee game on Halloween and the Arkansas State game on November 14th will also be important, but FAU canít win the Sun Belt title without coming out of Troy with a win. Itís not a good matchup for the Owls, and theyíll need to come up with one of their better offensive performances of the season.
2008 Fun Stats:
- Completion percentage: Opponents 64% - Florida Atlantic 54%
- Turnovers: Florida Atlantic 29 Ė Opponents 19
- Fourth down conversions: Opponents 14-of-25 (56%) Ė Florida Atlantic 2-of-12 (17%)
Re: CFN: FAU 2009 Preview....
What you need to know: The offense was a bit of a disappointment last season, at least early on, and it wasnít consistent. It struggled against any defense with a pulse, but when it was on it was fantastic thanks to Rusty Smith and the high-octane passing game. The Sun Beltís best air attack should be dominant with Smith getting back his good deep threats led by Cortez Gent to stretch the field. The return of tight end Jason Harmon from a knee injury adds another big-time weapon. The running game will once again be along for the ride with a few very quick but inexperienced options working behind a decent line thatíll keep Smith clean, but wonít do much for the ground game.
Star of the offense: Senior QB Rusty Smith
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior RB Jeff Blanchard
Unsung star on the rise: Senior OG Kevin Miller
Best pro prospect: Smith
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Smith, 2) WR Cortez Gent, 3) TE Jason Harmon
Strength of the offense: Quarterback, receivers
Weakness of the offense: Running game, backup quarterback experience
Projected Starter: Senior Rusty Smith will end his tremendous career on the short list for Sun Belt Player of the Year candidates. He had a bit of a down year completing just 54% of his passes for 3,224 yards and 24 touchdowns with 14 interceptions after throwing for 3,688 yards and 32 touchdowns as a sophomore. The 6-5, 212-pounder is a legitimate pro prospect with a live arm and the ability to get hot and put up big-time numbers from time to time. He ripped apart Central Michigan for 306 yards and two touchdowns on the way to Motor City Bowl MVP honors and threw for 18 of his 24 scores in the final six games. Heís not a runner, but he was able to run for two rushing scores.
Projected Top Reserves: Junior Jeff VanCamp has seen a little bit of mop up time completing 8-of-20 passes for 55 yards with an interception. Heís a smart, athletic passer with 6-5, 210-pound bomber who can move a little bit. While heís no threat to beating out Rusty Smith for the starting job, he offers a different option.
6-6, 225-pound redshirt freshman Graham Wilbert is the main man for the future, but he needs developing. He has a live, accurate arm and he wonít make a lot of mistakes when he finally gets on the field. While heís not going to tear off many rushing yards, heís not a statue.
Watch Out For … Smith to have the big season he was supposed to have last year. He took an overall step back for the first half of last year as the passing game struggled to find any consistent. And then everything started to work. This year the receiving corps should shine and getting TE Jason Harmon back will help.
Strength: Size. The coaching staff likes a certain type of passer. There arenít any little scatback passers here. Itís all about the tall, lanky bombers who can push the ball down the field.
Weakness: Backup experience. The program has revolved around Smith for the last two seasons and Jeff VanCamp hasnít been able to see much of the field. Forget about any No. 3 quarterback Ö there isnít one of note.
Outlook: Rusty Smith is a special passer with two full years 38 games of experience under his belt. Heís about to be one of the nationís most productive quarterbacks as he reaches his potential. Jeff VanCamp is an interesting No. 2 option whoíll be groomed for the 2010 starting job. The program desperately needs to develop a No. 3 passer.
Projected Starters: Jeff Blanchard was the teamís No. 4 back last season rushing for 57 yards and a score with 28 of them and the score coming in the blowout win over North Texas. The 5-9, 195-pound junior was about to become a bit of a factor a few years ago but was knocked out with a broken ankle. The former JUCO transfer started out his career at Kansas and brings a good speed burst to the mix.
Back at fullback and a part-time tailback is 6-1, 227-pound senior William Rose, who finished second on the team with 333 yards and a touchdown two years ago and ran for 307 yards and a score last season. Extremely versatile, he caught 23 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns, and while he wonít break off many big plays, heís a reliable safety valve. Heís a good blocker whoís real worth is as a reliable all-around player who does a little of everything well.
Projected Top Reserves: 5-9, 165-pound junior Willie Floyd is a pure speed back with tremendous strength for his size and has been used a bit as a kick returner. He finished fifth on the team with 38 yards in a limited role, but now heíll work in a variety of ways.
The offensive star of the recruiting class was Tyrie Allen, a 5-9, 185-pound flash of lightning who can catch the ball as well as run it. While he wonít be given the starting job, heíll be needed early on to add another option to the running back mix. Last year he ran for 850 yards for Western High in Davie, Florida.
Watch Out For … more of William Rose. The team needs a steady, reliable runner and while Rose isnít going to carry the ball 20 times a game, heíll get the ball in key moments until the untested backs are ready.
Strength: Quickness. Everyone can fly. Jeff Blachard, Willie Floyd and Tyrie Allen have track speed and can dart in and out of the hole. In time, theyíll show they can catch, too, and will be used in a variety of ways.
Weakness: Experience. Charles Pierre and DiIvory Edgecomb combined for 1,483 of the teamís 1,804 yards and 12 of the 16 rushing scores. Thatís not to say the new key backs canít play, but the offense is losing a ton of veteran talent and experience.
Outlook: The running game did a good job of going along for the ride last year averaging a decent 139 yards per game, and itíll do the same thing again this year with Rusty Smith bombing the ball all over the place. Jeff Blanchard and Willie Floyd are very quick, very interesting backs with loads of upside if they can get a little bit of room to move. William Rose is a veteran do-it-all fullback whoíll be invaluable for both the running and passing games.
Projected Starters: Senior Cortez Gent was on fire at the end of the 2007 season and it carried over into a solid and consistent 2008 finishing first on the team with 60 catches for 935 yards and nine scores. A tremendous athlete, heís a 6-2, 170-pound speedster whoís tough on shorter routes and at his best making big plays on the outside X position. While the schoolís all-time leading receiver will catch three passes on his bad days, when heís on, he can explode like he did against UAB for 146 yards and FIU for 108 yards and three scores.
Back to see time on the inside Z position is Chris Bonner, a 6-3, 195-pound senior who caught 22 passes for 422 yards and three touchdowns. While he didnít produce on a consistently high level, he averaged 19.2 yards per catch and came up with 139 yards on six catches against FIU. While heís a decent starter, heís more like a strong backup than a true No. 2 target.
Back at tight end is the ultra-athletic Jason Harmon after missing all of last year with a torn ACL. The 6-3, 210-pound senior is more of a big wide receiver, but heís a good blocker and will be one of the Sun Beltís top weapons. He was second on the team two years ago with 63 catches for 625 yards and five touchdowns averaging 13.1 yards per catch, and if heís 100% healthy, heís a tremendous target who can come up with big plays and also move the chains.
Projected Top Reserves: Working behind Gent once again will be junior Lester Jean, a practice star who finished fourth on the team with 25 grabs for 257 yards and two scores. The 6-3, 195-pounder can start in three-wide sets and has the speed to be more of a field stretcher at the X.
Returning to be a key player in the rotation behind Chris Bonner on the Z will be Conshario Johnson, a 6-1, 186-pound senior with enough talent to start in three and four wide sets and do far, far more than six catches for 46 yards he came up with last year after making 17 grabs for 163 yards and two scores in 2007.
With Harmon still trying to come back from his knee injury, 6-5, 210-pound senior Rob Housler is a proven second option who can start if needed. While FAU went to many three and four wide sets, Housler still finished third on the team with 32 catches for 519 yards and two scores highlighted by a 71-yard play against Michigan State. Heís not a big-time blocker, but he can make big plays with good route running ability.
Watch Out For … the return of Harmon. Housler was hardly a slouch as the regular tight end last year, but Harmon is special. Heís an H-Back type of target who flourishes in an attack like this. If he has his speed back, heís a lock for all-star honors.
Strength: Veterans. There are four good receivers, highlighted by a big-time playmaker in Gent, and the tight ends are terrific. With Rusty Smith throwing the ball, this corps should blow up.
Weakness: Young talent to develop for the future. Itís not like there arenít loads of good receivers in the greater Miami area to pick from, but the young prospects on this yearís FAU team arenít going to see a lot of action meaning next year the receiving corps will be all but starting from scratch.
Outlook: Look out. Because of the style of offense and because Rusty Smith is the quarterback, this veteran, talented corps should go ballistic. The FAU passing game was 25th in the nation last season and first in the Sun Belt, and it should be even better with Cortez Gent leading an explosive group and star tight end Jason Harmon back from his knee injury.
Projected Starters: Junior Ryan Wischnefski is one of the teamís most versatile linemen able to play anywhere on the inside. Originally a guard, he was a backup on the left side last year, the 6-2, 317-pound junior will go back to his original spot at center. He provides the bulk for the smallish line.
Taking over at left tackle for Brandon Jackson at left tackle is Lavoris Williams, a 6-3, 270-pound junior who is 15 pounds bigger than Jackson. He bulked up 20 pounds over the last year and has the experience to grow into an anchor after starting on the right side late last season. Tough, he was able to play through injuries to shine as a key pass protector.
With Williams moving from the right to the left side, Carl Spitale will step in at right tackle. The massive 6-8, 340-pound senior was too tall to be a guard, but thatís where he played last year on the right side. While heís not all that quick on his feet, he has a long reach and can keep pass rushers at a distance when he gets his hands on them.
6-3, 304-pound senior Kevin Miller can play either guard spot or could step in at center if absolutely needed. He wasnít healthy to start the season but he ended up being a key starter at right guard after seeing a game of starting time at center early on. Heís a good, tough blocker whoíll be an unsung star up front.
Samuel McRoy didnít do too much last year as he bounced around from spot to spot. He was a reserve at right tackle late last season, but the 6-4, 275-pound junior will see time at left guard early on. He could move back to the more natural outside spot if other guard prospects emerge.
Projected Top Reserves: 6-2, 285-pound senior David Matlock will find a spot somewhere. The oft-injured, but versatile veteran started at left guard late last season and saw time at center early on. Heíll be a key part of the rotation if he doesnít get back a starting job.
6-5, 235-pound junior Ed Wertepny is an undersized, athletic backup who can play just about anywhere up front. The former tight end was a backup center late last year and now heíll work as a backup at left guard.
Watch Out For … Kevin Miller. If he stays healthy he has all-star potential at guard. Heís one of the smarter linemen and is a rock in pass protection. With his versatility, heís one of the teamís most important players even though he wonít get too much preseason notoriety.
Strength: Pass protection. The Owls gave up a mere 16 sacks in each of the last two seasons despite the quarterbacks attempting 457 passes. The line has gotten bigger over the years, but itís athletic and it knows how to keep the quarterback clean for the extra tick. Also credit Rusty Smith for knowing how to get the ball out of his hands in a hurry.
Weakness: Sure thing depth. There are always going to be good blockers waiting in the wings, but thereís a little bit of patching to be done. The versatility of so many starters is a big plus, but it also means that itíll be hard for there to be a settled lineup from the start.
Outlook: The line is one of the best in the Sun Belt, especially when it comes to pass protection, and while itís not a dominant group and it isnít going to blast over anyone, itíll be fine. There arenít any sure-thing all-stars and thereís some patching to be done, but itíll be a good group revolving around Lavoris Williams at tackle. Itíll be a shock if the line allows more than 20 sacks.
Re: CFN: FAU 2009 Preview....
What you need to know: Last yearís defense was loaded with veterans and did precisely squat until a good Motor City Bowl. Now there are some major changes being made with three new starters at linebacker, a new strong safety in place of Greg Joseph, and some replacements coming on the front four. Thereís been no pass rush over the last few years, and there still wonít be one, and the run defense will be mediocre. On the plus side, the potential is there for a good year from the secondary with three good veterans returning led by corner Tavious Polo, who was never quite right throughout last year. The key overall will be the push into the backfield after finishing 112th in the nation in sacks and 110th in tackles for loss. A steady pass rusher will have to emerge.
Star of the defense: Junior FS Ed Alexander
Player who has to step up and become a star: Senior DE Jermaine Council
Unsung star on the rise: Junior LB Michael Lockley
Best pro prospect: Junior CB Tavious Polo
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Alexander, 2) Polo, 3) DT Josh Savidge
Strength of the defense: Corners, Joseph
Weakness of the defense: Pass rush, plays in the backfield
Projected Starters: The pass rush was non-existent last season, and Jermaine Council isnít going to change that. He made four tackles in just four games of work before getting hurt and knocked out for the year. The 6-5, 275-pound senior is more of a defensive tackle than a true end, and while heís not a pass rusher, heís a good presence against the run. He can also be moved inside if needed, but in a perfect world heíd be a 3-4 end.
Back on the other side is Jamere Johnson after spending last year as the key reserve on the left side. He only made 11 tackles last season and recovered a fumble, but he needs to get to the quarterback. At 6-4 and 220 pounds, if the sophomore isnít getting into the backfield on a regular basis.
Returning to his starting right tackle spot is senior Josh Savidge, a productive veteran who bounced back from a knee injury that prematurely ended his 2007 season with a 28 tackle season with five tackles for loss. At 6-2 and 280 pounds, and four years of experience, heís a big, active defender whoíll be one of the keys to the defense.
6-3, 300-pound sophomore Jarvis Givins only made seven tackles in his six appearances, but he was a difference maker with 1.5 tackles for loss, three fumble recoveries and a forced fumble in his time. Heíll be the main man at left tackle taking over for Jervonte Jackson, and while he replaces Jacksonís size, he has to prove he can be the same sort of an anchor.
Projected Top Reserves: 6-3, 230-pound true freshman Cory Henry will be a starter sooner than later. The big-time pass rushing prospect had chances to go play in the Big East or Conference USA, but now heíll be a key cog early on in a rotation at one of the end spots after making 14 sacks for Carol City High in Miami last year.
Playing behind Josh Savidge at right tackle will be junior Dino Cox, a promising interior pass rusher who can play end if needed. Only 6-3 and 240 pounds, heís way too light to be a regular tackle and now he has to start producing after only making six tackles and no sacks last year.
Watch Out For … Savidge to shine. He was healthy last year after suffering a knee injury a few years ago, but he wasnít quite right. This year, with more than enough time to heal up, he should be an all-star if he can get to the quarterback.
Strength: Tackle size Ö at least among the starters. This hasnít always been a sure-thing for the constantly undersized Owls over the years but now thereís decent beef on the inside in Givens and Savidge. However, size quickly diminishes when it comes to the reserves.
Weakness: Pass rushing. FAU has never been able to get to the quarterback despite always having a slew of undersized athletes up front. FAU made a pathetic 13 sacks and was 110th in the nation in tackles for loss.
Outlook: The line was a disaster throughout last year with no pass rush, no push into the backfield, and little done against the run on a consistent basis. This yearís front four isnít going to be a whole bunch better and itíll be a nightmare if injuries strike the starters. Josh Savidge is a good tackle to build around, but a pass rusher has to emerge on the outside.
Projected Starters: Who can possibly replace Frantz Joseph, the all-star in the middle who made 154 tackles last year? 6-2, 220-pound junior Michael Lockley will give it a shot after serving as an understudy. There wasnít much time to get on the field playing behind Joseph, so Lockley did most of his work on special teams finishing with 11 tackles. Heís a promising all-around prospect who can move.
Replacing Andre Clark on the strongside will be Malik Eugene, a 6-3, 235-pound junior who made six tackles and a tackle for loss. Mostly a special teamer so far, heís a strong athlete with good pass rushing potential. He could be used to manufacture pressure into the backfield from time to time.
Senior Edward Bradwell might be undersized at 6-1 and 200 pounds, playing more like a safety than a linebacker, but he can move. Heís been a solid reserve over the last few years with 41 stops last season to go along with a sack and three tackles for loss, highlighted by a 12-stop game against Troy, but he hasnít done enough against the pass from the weakside spot.
Projected Top Reserves: Several bigger name programs were interested in Toney Moore, but FAU got him. The 6-1, 210-pound freshman from West Palm Beach does a little of everything well with good open field tackling ability and solid production in pass coverage. Heís a natural weakside defender at the collegiate level, but he can see time at any of the three spots.
Redshirt freshman Yourhighness Morgan doesnít just have the best name in college football, he can play a little bit, too. The 6-3, 225-pounder is a tackling machine who should quickly find his place in the rotation on the strongside. Heís a speedster who should be all over the field.
Watch Out For … Lockley in the middle. Heís not going to be Frantz Joseph, but he should be a 100-tackle player just by being the main man on the inside.
Strength: Speed. The Owls use safety-sized linebackers and they can all fly to the ball. Bradwell should shine with more responsibility.
Weakness: Proven production. The Owls lose everything with Joseph, Andre Clark and George Allen gone. These three were the rocks for a defense that got nothing out of the defensive line. Itíll be hard to quickly replace them.
Outlook: This could be the teamís biggest question mark with a few unproven special teamers needing to play very big roles. Malik Eugene and Michael Lockley have potential, but itíll be Edward Bradwell who should be the new star of the front seven. The starters are question marks, much less the backups.
Projected Starters: Junior Tavious Polo couldnít build on his tremendous 53-tackle, seven interception freshman season with 35 tackles and just one pick in a back up role. While heís only 175 pounds on a 5-11 frame, thatís bulked up for him after starting out his career at around 155. His seven picks in 2007 came in the first five games and then his production fell off over the last year and a half. He has the speed and he has the talent to be a ball-hawking shut down corner, but he has to prove the start of his career wasnít a fluke.
The star of the secondary should be junior Ed Alexander at free safety. The 6-1, 172-pounder stepped in for Taheem Acevedo and made 42 tackles and picked off three passes. With good speed and decent athleticism, he's been a key special teamer and he proved he could be a steady pass defender. Now with Greg Joseph gone, Alexander has to do even more when the ball Is in the air.
Back at a starting corner spot is Tarvoris Hill after making 41 tackles. The 6-0, 170-pound junior was a good nickel back in the start of his career and he turned into a decent all-around defender on the right side last season, but he only made one interception and broke up three passes.
The teamís second-leading tackler, Greg Joseph, is gone at strong safety, and in comes Austen Jensen, a star special teamer who made 24 tackles. The 6-1, 190-pound senior will put up big numbers and should be among the teamís leading tacklers, but he also needs to be a bear against the pass to replace Josephís ten broken up passes.
Projected Top Reserves: Back after missing all of 2007 with academic issues was 6-0, 180-pound senior Erick McIntosh, but he only made 11 tackles with two broken up passes. One of the teamís most talented all-around defensive backs, he hasnít been able to put it all together even though heís tough enough to play either safety position and fast enough to be a key corner. Heíll play behind Tavoris Hill.
6-1, 185-pound junior Rod Huggins stepped in and saw some time at safety making nine tackles in his limited action. The former star high school running back has great speed and he could be a nice fifth defensive back in the mix if given more of a chance. Heíll start out working behind Austen Jensen.
Watch Out For … Jensen to be one of the teamís top five tacklers. He might not be Greg Joseph, but he has the experience and has done enough both as a backup defender and a special teamer to show he can play.
Strength: Corners. Tavious and Tavoris should be one of the Sun Beltís better corner tandems. Polo has to prove he can regain his all-star form, while Hill has to start making more plays. However, they should be good.
Weakness: Production. Even with all the tackles and all the good things done by last yearís veteran secondary, FAU still got bombed on by the decent passers and picked apart by anyone with any efficiency.
Outlook: With no pass rush whatsoever, thereís more pressure on the FAU secondary than there should be. The corners should be solid with Tavious Polo and Tavoris Hill two promising playmakers, while Ed Alexander and Austen Jensen should have good years at safety. However, this group will give up yards and will have a hard time with any quarterback with any semblance of passing skills.
Projected Starters: Replacing Warley Leroy, who hit 10-of-13 field goals last year and 29-of-40 over the last few years, but he had no range whatsoever. Junior Ross Gornall hit his one 36-yard attempt and should be solid from close range.
Senior Keegan Peterson won the punting job outright last year and put 20 kicks inside the 20 and forced 14 fair catches. While he only averaged 38.3 yards per kick, he has the ability to bomb it from time to time. Now he needs more help from his punt coverage team.
Corner Tavious Polo is a decent punt returner who averaged 9.5 yards per try. He has the quickness and speed to do far more. A kickoff returner will need to be found to replace the solid, but unspectacular DiIvory Edgecomb. Starting tailback Jeff Blanchard averaged 19.5 yards per try and will get the first look.
Watch Out For … Ross Gornall to be fine. Leroy was fantastic from 40 yards and in, but he had absolutely no range. Gomall will hit a 40+ yarder this year.
Strength: Kickoff coverage and Poloís potential. Polo should be doing more than averaging 9.5 yards per punt return, while the kickoff coverage team allowed a meager 18 yards per try.
Weakness: Almost everything. There needs to be a better net punting average, the placekicking game needs more range, and more pop is needed in the return game. Other than that, everythingís fine.
Outlook: To call the special teams a disaster last season is a bit much, but there wasnít nearly enough overall production from any spot. Losing PK Warley Leroy will hurt a little bit, but Ross Gornall will be fine. There needs to be more from just about every area and there needs to be far more from the return game. Special teams could cost FAU at least one game.