2014 Meet & Greet: Part II - Offense
After splitting the job with Greg Hankerson earlier in the season, QB Jaquez Johnson was able to wrestle the starting spot for good once he got comfortable in the offense. As a result, he became the workhorse for the Owls' offense and lead the team with 870 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns while throwing 12 touchdowns with just eight interceptions.
"I got a lot more confidence," said Johnson. "That's the most important thing. The game slows down a lot when you feel that way."
Johnson ran the ball a lot last year due to the play-calling and even though you normally try to limit the amount of hits your QB takes over the course of a season it seems that Johnson doesn't mind.
"Whatever the coach calls its my job to get the job done."
With the Owls appearing to go though another year with a running back by committee, look for Johnson to keep touting the rock at times even though it could put him more at risk for injury.
However, Johnson can rest on the Team having faith in Hankerson to run the offense just as effectively.
"Greg [Hankerson] keeps getting better and better," said Johnson. "He's like my little brother. He's still maturing but he's gonna be a great quarterback."
Another position that kept getting better and better with Fall Camp now over lies at the Wide Receiver spot.
"I think we're gonna be a strong and deadly group," said Lucky Whitehead, the speedster out of the group. With leading receiver William Dukes returning after a breakout junior year in which he averaged 15.8 yards per catch, it will be up to another receiver to emerge and take the pressure off of Dukes and all signs seem to be pointing towards Whitehead.
After a season hampered by injuries, Whitehead is now fully healthy and has showcased his blazing speed throughout Fall Camp. "Lucky has been outstanding this camp," said Johnson.
"Lucky has speedÖ very exciting," said Dukes. The wide receiver position is shaping out to be the best its been in years in terms of overall depth and skill. "We're looking pretty good. [Jenson] Stoshak keeps getting better and better, [Derek] Moise has been underrated a little bit too," said Johnson.
With the offense line having to replace two two-year starters from last year's team in Deandre Williams and Mustafa Johnson, a lot of question marks surround the makeup of the unit. Braden Lyons has now moved to center creating an opening a left tackle but Coach Partridge believes no unit has made the most progress since he has taken over.
"I give them all the credit in the world. They bought into how important nutrition is everyday and their technique. Our offensive line is a completely different unit and I'm excited where we go from here," said Partridge.
With the offense bringing back Johnson and big play guys in William Dukes and potentially Lucky Whitehead, Offensive coordinator Brian Wright will have some new wrinkles to work with when pulling from his creative play-book.
Next up: Defense…