The Florida Atlantic football team hosted their first scrimmage of fall camp at Howard Schnellenberger Field on a radiant Saturday morning, making it available for fans to watch as they attended FAU's FanFest at the stadium. The defense beat the offense 24-20, with outside linebacker Jaylen Wester ending the day with a game-sealing touchdown after catching an interception.
"The ones and twos got about 40 snaps and the threes got about 17-20, so we were right around where we wanted to get. We got a couple of drives in the red zone and we got some good third-down work," head coach Tom Herman said.
Herman noted how the defense dominated for the first half before the offense responded for the remainder of the scrimmage.
"We're much deeper from a competitive [standpoint]…the twos and three right now, even if they were here in the spring, they're better from having been through our summer development. Then some of the transfers and freshmen that we brought in are really going to contribute on that side of the ball," Herman said.
Here are some notes from today's scrimmage.
OwlBytes for August 12th
Leading The Snap It looks like Herman has narrowed the QB battle down to Casey Thompson (pictured top) and Daniel Richardson. Both quarterbacks alternated reps with the starting o-line and receivers as they both appeared to be solid throughout the scrimmage. "I saw some really good plays and movement in the pocket, reads, and not a lot of panic back there from either guy," Herman said. Thompson displayed plenty of rhythm with his passing, finding the open man at a moment's notice and throwing the ball to where his teammates needed to be. Richardson had similar moments as well, making solid decisions to what the defense was giving him.
Successful Twins One formation the offense was effective with, particularly with Thompson at quarterback, was the twins set. This involves the grouping of wide receivers lined up on each side of the line of scrimmage. When used properly, the offense can spread the field out and run faster plays instead of a slower-paced game plan. BJ Alexander, Lajohntay Wester (both pictured below in order), and Je'Quan Burton appeared to be quite effective as they ran their routes and made their catches with ease.
Growing Up To close the end of the scrimmage, Jaylen Wester caught an intercepted pass from Daniel Richardson as he took it all the way to the end-zone to score the game-winning touchdown for the defense. "He was a bit of a knucklehead when we got here. He had a hard time adapting but this fall camp, he's been doing things our way and the team's way," Herman said. Wester broke out for the Owls as a freshman last season, making 58 tackles (30 solo) including 4.5 for a loss of 20 yards and a sack for a loss of nine yards. With his development in maturity over the summer, he could be on track to be a key player in the Owls' defense this year.
Standing Tall The rotations of the offensive line that teamed with Thompson and Richardson had quality moments while they were out on the field. They prevented the defense from getting to the quarterbacks and created many holes for the running backs to gain a lot of yardage with their carries. Notable players who played with Thompson include Chaz Neal, Marquice Robinson, Federico Maranges, Andre Lamas, and Malcolm Lamar. Wallace Unamba, Dorian Hinton, Alex Atcavage, Jordan Church, and Woody Jean represented the o-line in Richardson's unit.
Progressing Chemistry The overall chemistry between Thompson and the receivers looked good towards the end of the game. Thompson threw for three touchdowns to BJ Alexander and Jabari Smith Jr., adding a fourth when he found running back Kobe Lewis for a 20-yard touchdown. "I was ready to pull my hair sometimes for the first couple of practices, and now there's only a few times when I want to pull out my hair…The chemistry is on the rise and will continue to grow heading into week one," Herman said.
Notable Absences There were a few players absent from today's scrimmage. Some include defensive lineman Evan Anderson, who had pink eye which will keep him out until Monday, and kicker Morgan Suarez is sidelined for a couple of months as he recovers from a torn meniscus. "Morgan was knee-deep in the race. He twisted his knee in a summer workout and had to repair his meniscus…At the end of the day, us coaches are going to jog out there who we think is going to give us the best chance to win," Herman said.
Kicking From Deep Despite Suarez being unavailable due to injury, kicker Carter Davis (pictured below) stood out among the special teams. He converted two field goals, his deepest being from 57 yards. "The field goal kickers had a little end-of-practice competition yesterday…Lupo wound up winning it so it was good to see Carter come back today and nailed a couple of tries that he had, especially the long one," Herman said. Nick Salmon played as the holder, as he is likely the frontrunner for the starting spot at punter.
Final Word There is some refining around the edges to be made for the Owls. Figuring out how to play fast while maintaining concentration and controlling fatigue levels towards the end of a game still leaves much to be desired. However, the pros from today's scrimmage outweighed the cons, and even with these issues, the Owls will be better off in the long run.
Head coach Tom Herman headlines today's Coach's Corner.
The Owls will take a day off before making their way to the Oxley Field as they begin the third week of fall camp.