For the first time since early December, FAU fans will have a chance to see the Owls in person on Saturday, when the program holds the first of two spring scrimmages at FAU Stadium. And while the navy helmets and practice jerseys will look the same, a lot has changed in the past three months.
Charlie Partirdge has taken over as FAUís fourth head coach, staring quarterback Jaquez Johnson has lost 15 pounds, and players like Braden Lyons have changed positions.
When the Owls take the field for the 100-play scripted scrimmage, it will mark the first glimpse into the Partridge-era. Sure, we have seen what the ace salesman can do on the recruiting trail, but now itís time to see what progress has been made in winter workouts and six practice sessions.
Will the passing game be able to compliment the run? Can the offensive line find a serviceable group of bodies? And what will happen linebacker?
Those are some of themes for spring camp, but on Saturday they will be under the microscope. (At least in the press box they will be.)
Hereís our list of five players to keep you eye on during the scrimmage.
Jaquez Johnson QB #12 - So far, so good, or at least thatís what the coaches have conveyed to the media about Quez. Heís lost 15 pounds since last season, after initially putting on five pounds in December, and claims he feels great this spring. Thatís a good sign for the Owls, because if Johnson (pictured) is a step quicker to the edge, he will only become more of a wrecking-ball. But the focus on Saturday should be with the passing game. Will Johnson mesh well with new targets and make his reads? Or will he tuck it, and run?
Jay Warren RB #25 - It could be argued that Warren was one of the bigger surprises last season. He was the previous coaching staffís second option in the recruiting game, then went on to run for 340 yards as a true freshman. Warren said after practice on Friday that he is fighting for the starting job in the backfield. Itís not clear if the coaches want to take a running-back-by-committee approach, but it appears Warren wants to be the No. 1 option. A strong scrimmage could only help.
Dustin Bowens TE #11- Some people might be wondering who this is, but the fact of the matter is, FAU needs two tight ends, or theyíre in serious trouble. Alex Deleon is clearly game-ready, but Bowens, who redshirted last season as a freshman, is unproven. He needs to show signs of progression, or it might be time for FAU to start moving bodies around.
Erik Minemyer RT #61 - A redshirt senior, Minemyer received a vote of confidence from the coaches when he took Braden Lyons spot at right tackle, after the later moved to center. He looks bigger than his 6-foot-4, 250-pound listing and has fared well in the first few weeks of spring practice. FAU needs bodies on the line to contribute, Minemyerís time is now.
Shalom Ogbonda DT #90 - The Owls defensive line is thin, like paper thin. Ogbonda has worked exclusively with the first-team unit this spring next to Trevon Coley, and looks the part of a starting tackle. Can he prove it on the playing field? Thatís the question ahead of the scrimmage.