By Pete Fiutak
Posted Aug 24, 2006
The Florida Atlantic offense had a nightmare of a time putting points on the board with no running game and inconsistency just about everywhere.
Star of the offense: Sophomore RB DiIvory Edgecomb
Player that has to step up and become a star: Redshirt Freshman QB Rusty Smith
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman WR Cortez Gant
Best pro prospect: Senior FB Aaron Sanchez
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Edgecomb, 2) Sanchez, 3) WR Casey McGahee
Strength of the offense: Running back
Weakness of the offense: Offensive line depth, scoring
Danny Embick, the heart-and-soul of the offense, is gone leaving a four-man race to take over the job. Rusty Smith, who was thought to need more time as only a redshirt freshman, has gotten the call to start in the season opener against Clemson.
The key to the unit: Get more consistency and more accuracy. The FAU quarterbacks, mostly Danny Embick, combined to complete 52% of their passes with 17 interceptions.
Quarterback Rating: 4
- Rusty Smith, Fr. - With a great arm and 6-4 size, he has the potential to be a top passer once he gets more time. "It was a very close decision to make, almost as close as it could get," said head coach Howard Schnellenberger. "The fact that Rusty made such extraordinary progress in the spring and fall makes us think he's our best option out there."
- Frank Messina, RFr.
With good size, a nice arm, and surprising decision making ability for a young player, the 6-3 Messina worked his way up to number two on the depth chart coming out of spring ball and is still in the hunt for the starting job.
- Sean Clayton, Jr. - 31-57, 54%, 329 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT, 21 carries, 35 yds With a little bit of experience seeing time in nine games last season, the 6-5, 225-pound junior is a big passer with a live arm and good enough mobility with his 4.7 speed to crank out positive rushing yards. He stepped in late last year and led the way to a win over North Texas, but he was awful against FIU throwing three interceptions in the 52-6 loss.
- McKinson Souverain, Soph. - 5-15, 33%, 96 yds, 1 TD, 4 INT, 14 carries, 40 yds
By far the best athlete among the quarterback options, Souverain could see time at quarterback, running back and receiver. If he's not the team's fastest player, he's number two and will find a spot somewhere in the offense. With his average passing skills, he'll likely end up at receiver.
The rushing production wasn't there last season with a paltry 114 yards per game and six touchdowns. The potential is there to do far more with the top two leading rushers returning as well as do-it-all fullback Aaron Sanchez from a leg injury. DiIvory Edgecomb and Charles Pierre are small, quick backs who should do more this season now that they know what they're doing. B.J. Manley is a solid third option.
The key to the unit: Considering all the speed and quickness in the backfield, there have to be more big runs and far more overall production after the team gained 1,259 yards and averaged three yards per carry.
Running Back Rating: 4.5
- DiIvory Edgecomb, Soph. - 89 carries, 295 yds, 3.3 ypc, 1 TD, 11 catches, 114 yards, 10.4 ypc, 2 TD
Edgecomb saw his workload increase as last season went on highlighted by a 118-yard day against North Texas. While not the speed back that Charles Pierre is, he's plenty fast and dangerous in the open field. He has good deep ability taking a pass 66 yards for a touchdown in the opening day loss to Kansas when starting out the season at wide receiver.
- Fullback Aaron Sanchez, Sr
The return of multi-talented Sanchez from a thigh injury will be a big boost to the offense. The 220-pound senior missed all of last year after finishing second on the team with 173 yards and three touchdowns in 2004 to go along with 24 catches for 200 yards and two scores.
- Charles Pierre, Soph. - 145 carries, 517 yds, 3.6 ypc, 3 TD, 7 catches, 37 yds, 5.3 ypc
While not all that big at 5-9 and 195 pounds, Pierre packs surprising power to go along with his home run hitting speed. He led the team in rushing as a steady force throughout last season, but he didn't break off many big plays. He has the wheels to be far more dangerous.
- B.J. Manley, Jr. - 15 carries, 33 yds, 2.2 ypc, 8 catches, 101 yds, 12.6 ypc
Mostly a special teamer, Manley appeared to be on the verge of starting last preseason before the emergence of Charles Pierre and DiIvory Edgecomb. He's a shifty back with great hands as a receiver out of the backfield.
- Corddero Drummond, Fr.
The true freshman might be too good to redshirt. He has the best combination of size and speed in the backfield. He's 190 pounds, but he runs like a much bigger back.
- Fullback William Rose, RFr.
The 213-pound backup to Aaron Sanchez won't just be a blocker. He's a good power runner who could be used as a tailback if needed.
The Owls lose the top two receivers from last year, Thomas Parker and Darrion Porter-Isom, so Casey McGahee and Frantz Simeon have to shine as the new starters. McGahee started to come through big at the end of last year and should come close to replacing Parker's 20.1-yard per catch average, while Simeon is a dangerous inside receiver. They're both very, very light, so bigger backups Chris Bonner and Cortez Gent need to be a physical presence. The tight ends are used as big wide receivers, and there are two good ones in Jamari Grant and Jason Harmon.
The key to the unit: A number one go-to target has to emerge early on while Casey McGahee and Frantz Simeon have to use their speed to stretch the field and make defenses worry about the deep ball.
Receiver Rating: 4.5
- Casey McGahee, Sr. - 23 catches, 269 yds, 11.7 ypc, 1 TD
The former defensive back made the successful transition to wide receiver finishing third on the team in receiving and coming on over the final four games to be one of the team's best targets. He's not big at only 5-9 and 155 pounds, so he needs to use his tremendous speed to make more big plays at the outside X position.
- Frantz Simeon, Soph. - 18 catches, 274 yds, 15.2 ypc, 2 TD
While he'll play at inside Y position, the 5-10, 172-pound sophomore has the potential to be the team's top deep threat. He's tremendously fast with great hands, and now he has to show he can be a reliable target across the middle and has to open things up for the rest of the offense.
- Tight end Jamari Grant, RFr.
A big wide receiver more than a tight end, the 6-4, 177-pound Grant will line up on the line and be used as a tall short-range target. He's a great athlete who could be dangerous if wide receivers Casey McGahee and Frantz Simeon do their jobs and stretch the field.
- Cortez Gent, RFr.
A far bigger option than Casey McGahee at the X, the 6-2, 170-pound Gent has 4.6 speed and should be a dangerous number two option after a strong spring.
- Chris Bonner, Soph.
An excellent athlete and a bigger inside target than Frantz Simeon, the 6-3 Bonner will push for time as a third receiver as well as starting time at the X.
- Tight end Jason Harmon, Soph. - 1 catch, 10 yds
A physical 6-3 and 184 pounds, Harmon is also a good enough athlete to be used as a deep threat at tight end. He's a better blocker than Jamari Grant, but he's not going to dominate anyone.
The line had major issues last season getting no push for the running game while allowing 34 sacks. Things should be a little bit better even with a few new starters. Nello Faulk and Antes Perkins have the potential to be among the Sun Belt's stronger tackle tandems, while Xavier Shannon is a huge new starting center. The depth is lacking.
The key to the unit: The starting five has to develop right away and stay healthy. Continuity is a must for a better season.
Offensive Line Rating: 4
- OT Nello Faulk, Sr.
The former guard moved to center and then to tackle. He bulked up a bit getting up to 264 pounds, but he's still rangy with a 6-6 frame. That's not a bad thing with his long arms a plus in pass protection.
- OG Chris Munoz, Sr.
At 6-3 and 285 pounds, Munoz brings some much needed size to the left side of the line. He'll take over the left guard job replacing the 329-pound Nick Paris. He's a decent run blocker and has to be more productive than Paris was.
- C Xavier Shannon, Soph.
At 312 pounds, Shannon is one of the biggest players on the line. He's physical enough to play guard, but his build makes him a good anchor in the middle.
- OG Lance Barry, RFr.
Barry has to quickly become a reliable rock at right guard, where there was little production last season from Stetson Wilson. Consistency in the running game will be the key for Barry early on.
- OT Antes Perkins, Jr.
Perkins bulked up to 285 pounds last season and grew into one of the team's most consistent blockers. He's a physical presence who's expected to grow into a top all-around blocker in his second year in a starting role.
- T John Rizzo, Soph.
Rizzo filled in at both right guard and right tackle for a few starts last season taking over for Stetson Wilson at right guard over the final three games. His versatility will be big plus for a line that needs options.
- G Brandon Jackson, Soph.
Likely a starter once he's 100%, the 280-pound sophomore is back from an ankle injury that cost him all of last year. He likely would've been a starter on the right side.
- G Peter Pantelakos, Jr.
An interesting option up front at only 235 pounds, the junior is a smaller, quicker blocker who'll see time behind Chris Munoz on the left side.
Frank Messina is gone too.
FIUFanatic saidXavier Shannon at Center? He plays for FIU….What the….Clueless??
Another F_U incident.
FIUFanatic saidXavier Shannon at Center? He plays for FIU….What the….Clueless??
Another F_U incident.
At 6-3 and 285 pounds, Munoz brings some much needed size to the left side of the line. He'll take over the left guard job replacing the 329-pound Nick Paris.
Is Paris gone? I remember reading about some knee problems last season.
where there was little production last season from Stetson Wilson
From what I read, I thought those guys were the only two consistent ones last year.He's a decent run blocker and has to be more productive than Paris was.
There might not be a younger, more inexperienced defense in all of college football with eight underclassmen likely to start. The biggest issue is the pass rush after generating only six sacks last season.
Star of the defense: Junior SS Kris Bartels
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore DE E.J. Jones
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore LB Ted Czepiga
Best pro prospect: Junior FS Taheem Acevedo
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Bartels, 2) Acevedo, 3) DT Jervonte Jackson
Strength of the defense: Safety
Weakness of the defense: Experience, proven pass rush
Six sacks. Six. And not all of them came from the line. FAU has to generate some semblance of a pass rush from the front four and has to be far better against the run. It's not a big line; it's a line that relies on its quickness and athleticism. If it's not getting in the backfield, it's useless. It's a ridiculously young and inexperienced group with three sophomores and a redshirt freshman starting, and there's even more youth and more inexperience among the reserves.
The key to the unit: Generate some sort of pressure from the ends. E.J. Jones and Michael Hancock are athletic enough to be turned loose as speed rushers.
Defensive Line Rating: 3.5
- DE E.J. Jones, Soph. - 18 tackles, 1 TFL
Expected to be a better pass rusher in his second year as a starter, Jones is coming off a nice first season with five starts showing decent skills against the run. He's like a linebacker playing the end with the speed and quickness to eventually become a consistent playmaker.
- DT Jervonte Jackson, Soph. - 38 tackles, 1 sack, 4 TFL, 1 broken up pass, 3 quarterback hurries
He has All-Sun Belt potential if everything comes together. He's a solid 280 pounds with the athleticism of an end. He's the anchor of the run defense and isn't bad at getting into the backfield.
- DT Patrick Fatu, RFr.
It'll be Fatu's job to take over on the inside looking to be good enough to allow the Owls to use a true 4-3. He's expected to be a run stopper to allow Jervonte Jackson to see single blocking on the left side.
- DE Michael Hancock, Soph.
The former tight end will look to make some noise at defensive end. He's a fascinating prospect at a wiry 6-7 and 215 pounds. He'll be a nightmare to throw over and has the athleticism to grow into a good pass rusher.
- DE Josh Jenkins, Sr. - 9 tackles. 1 TFL
Jenkins has to be healthy after only seeing time in five games last season. He has the speed to potentially be a great pass rusher on the right side behind Michael Hancock, but at 210 pounds, he has to prove he can handle himself against the run.
- DT Vinny Henderson, Soph. - 4 tackles
Henderson is a tall 252-pound tackle with good toughness and the quickness to become a good interior pass rusher. He saw a little bit of time last year and should be ready to be a big part of the rotation on the right side.
If Cergile Sincere doesn't work his way up the depth chart to get back in the starting mix on the outside, there's no experience whatsoever. Check that; Ed Bradwell has two career tackles. That's not to say the corps will be horrible; it's just young. Ted Czepiga is a good hitting prospect in the middle while George Allen is a small, quick option on the outside. Sincere has to find playing time somewhere to provide some semblance of experience.
The key to the unit: Live through the growing pains. There are plenty of good athletes and lots of potential, but there will be some major problems early on.
Linebacker Rating: 4
- George Allen, RFr.
Expected to be a disruptive force on the outside, Allen is a fantastic tackler who should shine right away taking over on the strongside. While he's fast and physical, he's only 6-0 and 200 pounds.
- Ted Czepiga, Soph.
A star high school running back who ran for 3,345 yards, the 215-pound sophomore is more than fast enough to have the range to play in the middle. He's a sure tackler and should play bigger than his size.
- Edward Bradwell, Soph. - 2 tackles
The weakside linebacker is usually the smallest, quickest of the corps, but the 220-pound Bradwell is the biggest of the linebacker options. While he's fast, he has to prove he can be a playmaker in pass coverage.
- Cergile Sincere, Jr. - 70 tackles, 2 sacks, 5 TFL, 2 broken up passes
It'll be a shock if Sincere isn't back up the depth chart soon after starting every game last season and leading the team in sacks and finishing third in tackles. He's a good-hitting playmaker who could move to safety to get him time somewhere on the field if he's not the starter on the weakside.
- Dustin Forston, Soph.
The Ole Miss transfer will be pushing hard for time right away in the middle. He's not as big as Ted Czepiga, but he can hit. (Duston is around 230 now)
- Markee Drummer, Fr. (ineligible in-coming freshman)
Most of the Owl linebackers are part defensive back, but Drummer is part linebacker, part defensive end despite only being 205 pounds. He's 6-4 and too good an athlete to keep off the field early on. He'll be used as a pass rusher right off the bat.
The pass defense wasn't bad mostly because teams spent so much time running the ball. Even so, there's the potential for the secondary to be the team's strength with a several good safety options helped by the return of Taheem Acevedo from an ankle injury. The corners are untested and will be one of the key areas of the defense's concern early on after losing Willie Hughley and Lawrence Gordon.
The key to the unit: The corners must play like experienced veterans right away, while the safeties have to make up for all the inevitable corner mistakes.
Secondary Rating: 5
- CB John Jones, RFr.
A star high school receiver who averaged 26.8 yards per catch with 16 touchdowns, Jones spent last year learning how to become a corner. He has the speed and the athleticism, but expect several bumps in the road early on as passing games look to single him out.
- FS Taheem Acevedo, Jr.
Expected to be a key playmaker in the secondary last season, the 201-pound junior suffered a gruesome ankle injury in spring ball and missed the entire year. He's back healthy and should be one of the team's top tacklers.
- SS Kris Bartels, Jr. - 82 tackles, 1 interception, 5 TFL, 2 recovered fumbles
Bartels came from out of nowhere to take over the starting strong safety job early last season and finished as the team's second leading tackler. He's only 5-10 and 190 pounds and he doesn't have great range, but he's always around the ball.
- CB Rickey Bethel, Sr.
The JUCO transfer missed all of last season and is now back to take over Willie Hughley's cornerback job. While he's only 5-10 and 176 pounds, he extremely fast and can hit like a safety.
- FS Greg Joseph, Soph. - 67 tackles, 2 interceptions, 4 TFL
The team's fourth leading tackler was buried on the depth chart coming out of spring ball thanks to the return of Taheem Adevado from an ankle injury. He's one of the team's most physical safeties despite only being 185 pounds.
- SS Troy Pindell. Sr. - 27 tackles, 4 interceptions, 3 broken up passes
He only saw a little bit of time after starting the first two games last season at strong safety, but the 198-pound senior still led the team in interceptions. He can play either safety spot and can be a key special teamer.
- SS John DeShields, Sr. - 2 tackles
The former North Carolina Tar Heel has spent most of his time on special teams, but he'll push for a little time behind Kris Bartels at strong safety.
It's an open casting call for the kicking jobs after a miserable season. Former punter Mike Brown wasn't bad putting 18 inside the 20, but he only averaged 38.8 yards per kick. Warley Leroy went one of three on field goals while former starter Daniel Kennard hit just three of seven, with most of the misses coming from deep. The Owls averaged a miserable 15.4 yards per kickoff return and 5.2 yards per punt return. Obviously, there's work to be done.
The key to the unit: Find a couple of steady kickers and get far, far more production from the kick returners.
Special Teams Rating: 3
- PK/P Warley Leroy, Soph. or Keegan Peterson, RFr. or Nick Lomartire, RFr. or Mike O'Neill, Jr.
Warley Leroy is the only kicker with any experience hitting one of three attempts
He does't mention Frantz Joseph at LB 235 lbs transfer from Boston College as a backup.
Missing names and players who are not even in in the mix!
But we have all come to expect this type of crack reporting anyway about FAU.
That entire piece is Bass Ackwards. :