2010 Spring Football Preview - Offense & Special teams
Continuing from where we left off yesterday, we move on to:
On the offensive side of the field, the real question is the offensive line. With the news that redshirt junior center Ryan Wischnefski will not be returning, the offensive line is projected to have five starters with thirty (30) total games played last year and zero (0) total starts. Why is this important? It shows us that the line does have game experience and won’t be as untested as many have feared. The fact that none have started a game, however, remains a bit of a concern. If the line is unable to provide the protection we have become accustomed to, it may be a long season. Aside from the line, the news that the offense is returning only three (3) starters is not as bad as it sounds. Familiar names will be at each of the skill positions: Van Camp at QB, Morris/Blanchard/Floyd at RB, Stinson at FB, Housler/Williams at TE, and Jean/Holley at WR. Last year’s statistics show that the Offense was very effective in some respects and mediocre in others:
- 22nd in total yards per game (432.1)
- 22nd in 3rd down conversion percentage (44.8%)
- 14th in passing yards per game (279.7)
- T-15th in fewest interceptions (7)
- 61st in points per game (27.4)
- 69th in completion percentage (57.9%)
- 62nd in yards per rush (4.2)
- 56th in rushing yards per game (152.4)
- 8th most penalty yards (857)
Overall, aside from the penalty issues, the “Need Improvement” stats are average for FBS teams. A continuation of this offensive trajectory, or a slight improvement, should equal a highly successful offense on the field.
The special teams, often a target of Owl fans ire, should be good on one side of the field, the kicking. Ross Gornall has proven himself a solid kicker. In fact, he has hit 100% of his field goal attempts in his career that have not been blocked. The lesson of course, is to focus the line on preventing these blocks. Similarly, the punting unit has done well, allowing only 5 punts to be returned, or less than 10% of all the punts last season. In addition, FAU also briefly led the nation in fewest return yards allowed. Where the problems arise is on the other side of the field. Both the kickoff and punt return squads came in near the bottom of the FBS:
- 109th in yards per kickoff return with 18.9
- 110th in yards per punt return with 4.8
Compare this with the fact that top 5 teams average more than 26 yards per kickoff return and more than 15 yards per punt return and the gap becomes quite clear. This is an area where a young player can go into spring practice, turn some heads, and make it on the team and make an immediate impact.
More to Come
In the following posts I will be doing a preview of each position, and then will provide a “Deep Roster” that goes beyond the 2-deep and provides a clear overlook of where each position stands going into the Spring. This is helpful because we never know which underclassmen comes into spring, turns some heads, and then makes it into the starting rotation in the fall.
So stay tuned...