The Florida Atlantic football team has officially kicked off their first day of fall camp at the Schmidt Family Complex on what was a warm and humid Thursday afternoon. This is the Owls' first fall practice under head coach Tom Herman, who looks to take the program to new heights upon their first season as a member of the American Athletic Conference.
"We've got some work to do with the newcomers in terms of learning the playbook, but we're indoctrinating them in the way we do things," Herman said.
Compared to spring football, Herman noted the team has improved their ability to execute the game-plan they implemented from the beginning of the year much quicker.
"When you're installing a new offense and defense for the first time in spring, there's some tip-toeing around like 'am I doing the right thing' or 'am I in the right place'…here, we haven't changed the offense and defense over the summer so it's a lot of repetition and now they can play faster," Herman said.
Players wore just helmets today as the team is just getting their feet wet for the 2023 season and will have to go through a mandatory acclimation period per NCAA guidelines.
Here are some notes from today's media availability.
OwlBytes for August 3rd
- Recovered And In Form Taking the spring and summer to heal from shoulder surgery, quarterback Casey Thompson appeared to be in shape as he took part in all drill activities with the team. "I thought Casey did good for practice one. He wasn't perfect and he's got things to improve on," Herman said. The graduate transfer from Nebraska is currently competing with Central Michigan transfer Daniel Richardson and four other quarterbacks for the starting job. "We're headed in the right direction in that room and it's going to be fun to watch how that plays out," Herman said.
- Throwing In The Towel There was a new drill that popped up for the first day of camp. Defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Roc Bellantoni (pictured above) had a towel that he would throw to the air for the players to chase after, replicating a turnover situation. When they reached the towel, they would huddle together and move in a circular motion surrounding the towel before returning to Bellantoni to repeat it.
- Healthy Owls According to Herman, the team made massive improvements with their health and conditioning in terms of having healthier nutrition to better withstand the growing pains of a season. He said the program doubled their budget and hired a nutritionist to revamp the eating lifestyles of the players. "So many guys put on weight but lost body fat; their weight is all lean muscle mass. It is astounding to see the transformation of some of these guys' bodies," Herman said.
- Limited To No Activity Not everyone was able to take part in all of today's drills. Linebacker Zyere Horton and defensive lineman Jaden Wheeler, the former who was wearing a boot on his left leg, only participated in non-contact drills with the team. The tight ends also sustained significant hits, with Jackson Sumlin and Elijah Brown being unavailable to begin fall camp due to foot injuries.
- Star Watch: CB Romain Mungin - Mungin impressed his coaches throughout the drills, having precise timing with his movement and reactions to begin fall camp on a strong note. Entering his senior year, he is coming off an improved 2022 season where he made 34 tackles (26 solo), two interceptions, and one sack for a loss of eight yards. He also earned a preseason Fourth-Team All-AAC honor from Athlon.
- Final Word Today provided a strong statement on how the Owls are going to approach fall camp under Herman moving forward. There was not only a lot of activity, but there was also plenty of attention and accountability that both coaches and players focused on throughout the day. Lajohntay Wester said the whole team bought into Herman's plan over the summer; and from the looks of it, it is probably the truth.
Head coach Tom Herman and defensive lineman Evan Anderson, wide receiver Lajohntay Wester, and running back Larry McCammon III headline today's Coach's Corner.
The team will return to the field Friday morning for the second day of fall camp.