The Owls continued their second week of Spring Practice at the Tom Oxley Athletic Center for the first time this Thursday afternoon.
For today, the kickers and punters will have the spotlight.
FAU absorbed a big hit in their punting unit with the loss of Riley Thompson when he entered the transfer portal to go to Penn State.
He was excellent with his punts last season, with 26 of them stopping inside the 20-yard line at the other side of the field. He finished with 2,770 punting yards on 61 punts and went on to be a First Team Freshman All-American from College Football News (CBN).
Below is a quick glance at the makeup of the positions for the Spring.
Key Returners: Morgan Suarez (R-Soph. 5-10, 180), Carter Davis (Soph. 6-0, 210), Logan Lupo (R-Jr. 6-0, 190), Kyler Robbins (R-Fr. 6-0, 180).
Key Losses: Riley Thompson (Transfer/Penn State).
Newcomers: Nick Salmon (Fr. 6-0, 175 - Recruit/Australia).
Offensive line coach Ed Warinner was available to media for the first time this spring, and he liked how competitive the offensive line is throughout the practices.
"I like their toughness. I like the the way they compete, I like the way they communicate up front," said Warinner. "I like the fact that they're in great shape coming out of the offseason, so they worked really hard to be physically stronger."
With day five of spring practice having concluded, here is the fifth of our parliament Owl position previews, beginning with two names from the kicking and punting units, and some notes from today's media availability.
Through The Uprights
- Expected to Lead Morgan Suarez: Suarez (pictured below) would be the leader for the Owls as the main field-goal kicker. He started last year on fire, completing a hat trick of three field goals made in the season-opener against Charlotte which earned him C-USA's Special Teams Player of the Week. He cooled off toward the end of the season finishing with 69.3% accuracy on 13 field-goal attempts in 10 games, so it's probable he is using Spring Practice to become more efficient with his kicks.
- Keep An Eye On Carter Davis: Davis would be motivated to be more beneficial within the special teams. Having the responsibilities of leading the kickoffs, he became FAU's field-goal kicker to end the 2022 campaign following an injury to Suarez. Despite missing what would've been the game-winner in the season-finale against Western Kentucky and could've clinched bowl eligibility for the Owls, the impressive strength in his legs allowed him to kick for a total of 3,658 yards on 61 kickoffs in 11 games. Under a new coaching staff with Tom Herman leading the way this year, Davis could see this as a chance to start anew and improve on his field-goal kicking if Suarez is unavailable.
Inside the 20
- Expected to Lead Nick Salmon: Even with the loss of Riley Thompson, the Owls' depth might not take a severe downgrade with the addition of Salmon. (pictured top-right) He presents himself as the top punting option, joining the team this January from Australia. He comes from the Prokick Australia organization which was developed in 2007 to train, guide and transition Australian athletes to perform at the College/NFL level that has also created a dynasty of talented punters for the Owls in past seasons. With the number of successful Australian punters FAU recently found themselves in Matt Hayball and Riley Thompson, Salmon is expected be the next one to carry the torch.
- Keep An Eye On Logan Lupo: Lupo (pictured below) is worth keeping track of. Playing behind last year's punter Riley Thompson, Lupo made just two appearances in the regular season which saw him put up five kickoffs for a total of 255 yards. With Thompson having departed, Lupo might use this opportunity to potentially become the Owls' first punting option.
OwlBytes for March 23rd
- More Influence on Offense Of the coaches to have retained their position from last season, offensive line coach Ed Warinner gained a promotion to associate head coach following head coach Tom Herman's arrival, who he's coached with at Ohio State where they won a national championship together in 2014. "I really appreciate coach Herman for doing that," Warinner said. "He knew that I understood him and knew what he would want in his program. I understood FAU after being here for two years so I could be a good voice for that." Knowing how solid the offensive line was last year with their protection by ranking 20th in the country in fewest sacks allowed (18), Warinner understands that some retooling would have to be done to maintain that level of performance heading into next season. "Since they're a veteran group, I expect them to perform at least that good or better in terms of pass protection," Warinner said, who will also serve as the team's run game coordinator. "We have three really good backs on the team and we have quite a few really good offensive linemen so there's no reason why we can't have great balance in the run game."
- Taking Center Stage Following the departure of Nick Weber who started at center in the offensive line last season, Federico Maranges will be handling responsibilities there after being Weber's backup. "Coach Warinner built a really good foundation for us to learn," Maranges said. "Hopefully with Nick Weber gone, I can fulfill that spot and be better so I can lead the offensive line to better rushing yards and better passing yards." Having switched between the offensive line and special teams last year, Maranges said it gave him the versatility to play and learn game-time scenarios better. "Playing in special teams and playing in the offensive line gives you practice of that game-time scenario," Maranges said. "So whenever you go into that game, you're calm and relaxed and you just do your job."
Offensive line coach Ed Warinner and offensive linemen Federico Maranges and Chaz Neal headline Video Play.
After taking a rest for Friday, the team will be back on the field for Saturday's session which will be open to media and fans.
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