4 Thoughts Following FAU's Spring Game
There will be a tailback by committee approach this season. The notion that three running backs could play this season had been tossed around by the coaching staff, but on Saturday it was clear that a rotation in the backfield could work. Tony Moore - a senior who had fallen out of favor during the Carl Pelini Era - started the game with the first team offense, but both Martese Jackson and Jay Warren saw stints with the unit.
Moore pounded out 60 yards in the scrimmage, while Jackson - another guy who was often in Pelini's dog house - evaded defenders left and right for 88 yards.
Warren finished with 83 yard rushing, and showed he might be the most complete back of the bunch. The sophomore spelled Moore early in the third quarter, and found the end zone on a 8-yard run.
"We have three running backs that can play, any down, any time," quarterback Jaquez Johnson said.
And he's right. There isn't much separating the trio aside from a few different attributes here and there. Jackson looks to have overcome the fumbling concerns which troubled him two seasons ago, Warren is steady, and Moore has been reborn in the new administration.
The quarterback competition needs more time. Following the scrimmage, coach Charlie Partridge said it would be "premature" to asses the quarterback situation. Both junior Jaquez Johnson and sophomore Greg Hankerson played on Saturday, and according to the numbers, Johnson had the better outing.
But, the stats only tell a small percentage of the story. The scrimmage was just one of 24 practice sessions this spring, and it should be noted that five catchable passes from Hankerson were dropped by receivers during the scrimmage.
Johnson - who surprisingly never carried the ball once on a designed run - finished the day with 135 yards passing and two touchdowns. When a reporter asked him after the game if he thought his performance was enough to win the starting gig, he had a simple answer.
"No comment," Johnson said.
Johnson appears to be feeling the pressure of Hankerson and maybe some from freshman Jason Driskel who engineered a 5-play, 96-yard drive right before halftime that ended with a 10-yard touchdown strike.
Freshmen Reginald Bain and Jakobi Smith should start on the offensive line. FAU entered spring camp with virtually no depth along the offensive line, but the unit will head into summer workouts with a viable starting five.
With senior Braden Lyons at center, Eric Mynemyer at right tackle and Karl James at left guard, it's a pair of freshmen holding down the other spots. Jakobi Smith is at left guard, and true freshman early-enrolle Reginald Bain is at left tackle.
Sure, FAU will welcome back Mike Marasaille and Vinny Davino in the coming months from injury, but they should have to dethrone Smith and Bain, who both out played their age in the scrimmage, for a starting spot.
"They have come along way," quarterback Jaquez Johnson said of the freshmen. "Bain, I have never seen an offensive lineman come out of high school ready to play like he is. He's going to be great for us just like Jakobi, who was on the scout team last year."
Along with Bain and Smith, walk-on freshman Anthony Woods also saw some first-team reps this spring. Depth no longer looks like an issue, unless the injury-bug bites again.
Trey Hendrickson could be in store for a breakout season. It was just a simple dress rehearsal, but defensive end Trey Hendrickson looked like the strong-side pass rusher that FAU will need this season. The sophomore managed two sacks, and batted down a pass.
FAU had just a handful of healthy lineman in spring camp (eight if you were counting), so that meant a lot of guys like Hendrickson were spending almost double the time on the practice field.
The result? A better, more developed product.
"This was my first spring, so I didn't know any better," Hendrickson joked. "We just go when the coach tells us to do something. We haven't done anything to earn respect, so we just listen."
Hendrickson might deserve some respect after his performance. He was effective on the edge, and had a presence that often broke the quarterbacks.
Video: Coach Partridge Press Conference
Spring Game Unofficial Stats
Recruiting: Spring Game Visitors List