The Florida Atlantic football team continued to make progress throughout fall camp, finishing their seventh overall session and second in pads on a hot Thursday.
Tight ends and special teams coach Chad Lunsford and Offensive line coach Ed Warinner made themselves available to speak to media for the first time today.
Lunsford had plenty of praise for the special teams' performance throughout today's session, while acknowledging the competition there is at tight end.
"This was a great full-padded practice to be able to work on protections on punt and also work on our kickoff scheme," Lunsford said.
"We got a really good room [at tight end]…there are guys that help one another and push one another but also compete for a starting job. A lot will be told after this first scrimmage of who those guys will actually be as we start getting into game week."
Here are some notes from today's media availability.
OwlBytes for August 10th
- Demanded Consistency It takes a lot to bring the best out of everyone on the team, especially the offensive line. During their drills, Warinner wanted the effort and intensity to resemble that of an elite o-line, not a unit that went 5-7. "If your offensive line plays well, you'll give yourself a chance to win every game if you can control the line of scrimmage and run the ball. They need to come to work everyday, they need to be ready to go and need to set an example with work ethic, attitude, and physicality," Warinner said. Joining the team from Arizona as a freshman, offensive lineman Woody Jean (pictured below) has understood the tasks Warinner is emphasizing. "If he's on you, he loves you. He wants the best from you and wants you to reach your full potential," Jean said. As we mentioned back in the spring in our offensive line segment, they lost Nick Weber and Brenden Bordner due to maximized eligibility, but they have added Trinity Catholic recruit Brayden Ramey as he joined over the summer. You can read that here.
- Starting O-Line Battles The best strength that emanates from the offensive line is depth, possessing 16 players who are capable of getting reps at any point during the season. "It does make it challenging because we have a lot of really good players so there are some battles going on for starting positions even though we have guys who are returning two or three-year starters," Warinner said. A few battles he mentioned are Marquice Robinson and Dorian Hinton at left guard, Chaz Neal and Woody Jean and Jordan Church at right tackle, and Malcolm Lamar and Wallace Unamba at left tackle. "I love competing with him…we share things amongst each other and we help each other become better. It's good competing with Chaz," Jean said.
- Special Forces According to Lunsford, head coach Tom Herman has been very involved with the development of the special teams, nicknaming them "special forces". "We actually found former military guys that played football here at Florida Atlantic and we actually honor them for each team," Lunsford said. He noted that Logan Lupo and Nick Salmon are competing for the starting spot at punter, Lupo and Carter Davis are duking it out to be the leading kicker, and the returning unit could see Lajohntay Wester and Je'Quan Burton splitting duties during kickoffs and punts. Sharing responsibilities in the o-line and special teams, Federico Maranges (pictured top) said the team has improved with having a stronger mentality. "We don't have any more ideas of thinking about the last play mentality; we are now thinking more of the next play mentality. If you screwed up the last play, leave it there and continue because if you think about the last play, you're just going to continue circling the drain and that's just going to keep on negatively affecting you for the rest of practice," Maranges said.
- Star Watch: OL Chaz Neal - Neal has stood out from the offensive line in terms of his leadership within the unit. "They lead by example and lead by work ethic…and they play at a high level," Warinner said regarding Neal and Maranges. Neal played in all 12 games last season, playing a key role in an o-line that refused to give up many sacks against opposing defenses. He also earned a spot on All-AAC First Team from Phil Steele's Magazine and Third Team from Athlon. Entering his final year with the team, he looks to end his collegiate career on a high note as he might pursue his aspirations to go pro.
- Final Word Erasing the issues that plagued the Owls in 2022 seems to be in full effect with Warinner and Lunsford stressing the importance of execution to the players at their respective positions. Their mentality alongside Herman's with building the team to have them become tough-minded and persevere through the challenges that come their way continues to develop. With the abundant amount of potential both coaches possess in their groups, they will surely want to maximize their strengths while correcting the mistakes that appear.
Coaches Chad Lunsford and Ed Warinner and offensive linemen Federico Maranges and Woody Jean headline today's Coach's Corner.
The team will come back to the field on Friday morning for the eighth session of fall camp.