The second week of fall camp is underway for the Florida Atlantic football team, concluding the session at the Schmidt Family Complex on a humid and sunny Monday afternoon.
"You want to keep making strides for it as you head towards full pads and the first scrimmage so we can evaluate what we're doing schematically, what they can do positively schematically, what they may not be good at schematically, so that when we're full speed in full pads, we can really see what we have," defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Roc Bellantoni said.
During spring camp, head coach Tom Herman noted how the linebacker spot needed a lot of attention due to the lack of depth. With the additions they have made over the summer, Bellantoni is confident in the group's strength entering the season.
"Everybody you ask or you read about, the linebackers are the big question mark on defense. As our group, we want to show that we're not and we can get it done and we can be positive additions to this defense…I think we have a chance to surprise some people in that room," Bellantoni said.
Here are some notes from today's media availability.
OwlBytes for August 7th
- Linebacker Routes Roc Bellantoni had the linebackers test out their defensive awareness by running a drill that required them to follow the routes of the opposing receivers and to have the correct positions during that particular in-game situation. "You have to be on the same page, you have to be in the right spot, covering the right man, fitting the right gap, and if everybody does their job right and we have good enough players to tackle the guy, then we should be very good on defense," Bellantoni said. The group also saw a new addition in Jahbari Hill (pictured top), who switched to linebacker after playing as a cornerback for the Owls last season. As we mentioned back in the spring in our linebackers segment, Jackson Ambush and Curtis Roberts is currently with the team following their commitments earlier this year. You can read that here.
- Center Snapper At the beginning of the session, the offense banded together to practice some snaps and it showed players who could be starting at center for the Owls. Federico Maranges played at center with quarterback Daniel Richardson's unit, while Alex Atcavage commanded the spot with Casey Thompson's rotation. The o-line also practiced in-game situations during their drills. The centers would snap the ball to offensive line coach Ed Warinner, pretending to be the quarterback, as the other linemen would block each other once the ball was snapped. This drill is key because they will use it in football games on every single play.
- Auburn Affinity Roc Bellantoni used his connections at Auburn, where he served as linebackers coach from 2021 to 2022, to make a solid acquisition in linebacker Desmond Tisdol (pictured above) over the summer. "He and all the other new guys have really done a nice job of trying to fit in and get to the level of expectation of what we want here," Bellantoni said. Tisdol appeared to be sharp throughout the session, making quick movements and having consistent direction on where he needed to be during the drills.
- Star Watch: LB Eddie Williams - Having been unable to participate in spring practice due to knee surgery, Williams (pictured below) has made a full recovery and looks to continue being a key piece to the Owls' defense this year. "Steve Emory is real good at what he doing at PT [physical therapy], shoutout to Steve and the training room. Those guys helped me out a lot and got me back right, and I feel good now," he said. Before seeing his 2022 campaign get cut short due to the injury, Williams was on the trajectory of a career season as he made 65 tackles (24 solo) including 5.5 tackles for a loss of 14 yards and 2.5 sacks for a loss of seven yards, and forced a fumble in the eight games he played in.
- Final Word What Bellantoni made very clear regarding the defense is he wants a complete team effort. He does not want anyone to be selfish in their decision-making; he wants them to play in unison when they execute the plays called out for them. With him coordinating, the defense seems to be in good hands for FAU.
Defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Roc Bellantoni and linebacker Eddie Williams and defensive back Daedae Hill headline today's Coach's Corner.
The team will come back to the field Tuesday morning for the fifth session of fall camp.
JJ Metz contributed to this article