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OwlBytes: 2021 FAU Fall Camp August 26th - Quarterbacks


OwlBytes: 2021 FAU Fall Camp August 26th - Quarterbacks

It's crunch time for FAU football, as there are now nine days remaining until they hit the field against Florida for their first game. One of the biggest storylines of the preseason has been the quarterback race, which is still yet to be decided.

“We have four guys who have all improved and have all gotten reps," Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach Michael Johnson said. "But Coach Taggart and I have to narrow it down.”

This year's quarterback race is shaping up to be a three-way race to the finish. The only candidate returning from last season is 6'2, 218 lb redshirt junior Nick Tronti. 6'2, 215 lb redshirt freshman Michael Johnson Jr. has also transferred in from Penn State ahead of Spring, while 6'4, 198 lb graduate transfer N'Kosi Perry (photo) joined FAU from Miami following Spring Camp.

With the season opening kicking at the door we present you with the 11th and final rendition of the parliament Position Previews, looking over the quarterbacks, and video from today's interview with Coach Taggart.
The Battle For QB1

Expected To Lead N'Kosi Perry: Perry has the most experience playing at the top level of college football, playing 24 games with the University of Miami over the course of his collegiate career. He threw 208-397 (52.4%) with 2,484 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, and 6.3 yards per attempt as a Hurricane. He also added 217 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns on 111 attempts. D'Eriq King took over the starting quarterback duties after transferring to Miami from Houston, pushing Perry to a backup role. However, Perry still showed flashes of his old self in limited opportunities, throwing 26 for 47 (55.3%) for three touchdowns and one interception with 7.4 yards per attempt.

One big disadvantage Perry had was joining the team late and missing spring camp, but he used his experience to catch up on learning that offense in no time. "He has experience, he knows what it's like to be a quarterback at a high level," Head Coach Willie Taggart said. "It comes to him naturally and you can see that in how he carries himself and how he is with his teammates." He has learned the playbook quickly, executing on every play he has been asked to make and looking confident with his throws. Throughout camp, he has made the best throws, got the balls out the quickest, and has learned the playbook quickly enough to show that he looks to be in the driver's seat for the starting quarterback position. He still needs time to learn the offense even more, but he is the most talented player in the race, giving him the lead for now.

Keep An Eye On Nick Tronti: Tronti started the majority of FAU's games in the 2020 season, throwing for 905 yards, six touchdowns, and three interceptions with a 53.3% completion percentage and 5.4 yards per attempt. He was dangerous in the rushing attack, adding 139 yards and two touchdowns on 70 rushes, but struggled in the passing game. He wasn't throwing the deep ball well and he had issues with accuracy, which caused the FAU offense to struggle with the team averaging just 144.4 passing yards per game.

The redshirt junior has improved mightily over the course of camp and preseason practice, showing off the deep ball and hitting his targets more accurately. "I think having a better understanding of what we're doing [has contributed to his improvement,] Taggart said. "if you have an understanding of what you're doing you can play and react a lot quicker than when you don't know exactly what you're doing. Then you play slow, you throw behind people, you throw late, and you look like you can't play the position." His understanding of the playbook has reflected on the field, as he has been hitting his receivers in stride and has been showing more confidence in the pocket. With all of the improvements he made to his game over the offseason, Tronti is still very much alive in this race. Tronti has the advantage of having an entire season in the offense, giving him an edge and could give him the opportunity to start the season, especially with the improvements he made this offseason.

Darkhorse Candidate Michael Johnson Jr.: Johnson Jr. transferred from Penn State in December 2020 after not playing a game in the previous two seasons.  The redshirt freshman was a four-star prospect out of high school, ranked as the 15th best dual-threat quarterback in the country and the second-best quarterback to come out of Oregon in the class of 2018. He possesses a unique combination of speed and arm strength that neither of the quarterbacks in this race has, but he lacks the experience that either of the two have at the NCAA level.

"He's improved, I've got four guys that I coach and he is one of them." offensive coordinator Michael Johnson said of his son, Johnson Jr. "He's made improvements, he's made strides, and gotten better through fall camp, so I'm pleased with where he is." Throughout fall camp, Johnson threw his passes with confidence, releasing the ball quickly and hitting his receivers at the right time. He has an advantage over Perry with the fact he's been working with this offense longer and an advantage over Tronti, as he looks to have more arm talent than he has. The way he has developed over camp, he is still very much in the race and has the chance to win the starting job over both Tronti and Perry. Johnson is young and could use some time to learn behind the other two quarterbacks, likely being the future of the program, but a darkhorse to start the 2021 season.

Video Play

Head Coach Willie Taggart headlines today's video play.

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