Wednesday was a special day for the Florida Atlantic football team, fulfilling their sixth session in pads for the first time throughout this fall camp on a blazing afternoon. Head coach Tom Herman had lots to offer to media, making himself available for the second time.
"We haven't played real football in a long time since the spring game, and it was nice. I thought the guys responded well," Herman said.
"We need to be mentally tougher and the only way to get mentally tougher is to put yourself in uncomfortable situations over and over again. I think we're learning that, but we're not there yet."
Next came the current situation at the quarterback spot, where six players are competing for the starting job. Herman said the race has been cut down to three with Casey Thompson, Daniel Richardson, and Ben Ballard representing as the trio.
"My hope is it becomes so obvious that we make the decision…I think it's fair to give the guy at least 10 days to have that be his offense and get the majority of the reps with the 1s," Herman said.
Here are some notes from today's media availability.
OwlBytes for August 9th
- Necessary Violence One word safeties coach Derrick Gibson emphasized to his players throughout the session was "violence". With the Owls being full padded, the objective was to showcase a lot of physicality and not hold anything back. During one of their drills, Gibson instructed the safeties to initiate the contact with their matchup to gain the upper hand in the one-on-one dual. As we mentioned back in the spring in our safeties segment, everyone in that position is returning with the exception of Teja Young, who transferred to former FAU head coach Lane Kiffin's Ole Miss during the summer. You can read that here.
- Strong At Safety There is one player who got added to the safeties group: Jarron Morris (pictured above). Morris transferred from Texas State over the summer, playing with the Bobcats for the last five seasons as a key starter. He is not to be deceived despite his 5-9, 170 lb frame being the leanest among the unit, using his overall speed and strong positioning to execute the drills in convincing fashion as it explains the 243 tackles (169 solo) and eight interceptions he got in 50 games over at Texas State. Now a graduate player, he looks to compete for a starting spot at safety against the likes of Armani Eli-Adams, Dwight Toombs II, and Josh Moore.
- Hard Work Recognized Wednesday night witnessed inside linebacker Jarrett Jerrels get placed on scholarship with the Owls, getting recognized for the strong effort he has put in throughout this year. "It's probably the coolest thing I get to do as a coach…when you give a guy that's worked as hard as Jarrett Jerrels has worked and bled and sweat and cried for this program and this university, when you're able to reward him with his background, it's pretty cool," Herman said. Jerrels appeared in all 12 games last season, making a total of 11 tackles (six solo) and forcing a fumble as he switched between the defense and special teams.
- Limited Reps The quarterbacks have been actively participating in fall camp, albeit with some setbacks. "Ben Ballard was out for the last five days due to COVID-19 so this was his first day back but he'll be alright, Tyriq's coming off the knee surgery so he's been limited in practice, and Michael Johnson Jr. is coming off the shoulder surgery so he's been limited in practice," Herman said. The latest injury to come up was Omari Hayes, who suffered a grade 1 hamstring sprain and will be out for one to two weeks.
- Star Watch: S Armani Eli-Adams - Eli-Adams has been standing out as the leading presence among the safeties. He undeniably had his best season with the Owls last year, accumulating up to 69 tackles (42 solo) including two for a loss of three yards, and caught an interception. He was also named on the Preseason All-AAC Second Team by Phil Steele's Magazine and Athlon.
- Final Word Herman expressed plenty of excitement with the Owls finally getting their day to be fully padded, which allowed him to begin evaluating the team's biggest strengths. Getting the rust out of the way with today was part of Herman's objective, and it seems to have effectively worked for the team. Giving complete effort every day throughout fall camp, regardless of the heat, will garner his attention and create entertaining scenarios for the team to test out.
Head coach Tom Herman and safety Dwight Toombs II and running back Zuberi Mobley (pictured top) headline today's Coach's Corner.
The team will return to the field on Thursday morning for the seventh session of fall camp.