Partridge: "Excited, ready to keep steady pace."
Charlie Partridge wasn’t sure how his first practice would go as a head football coach, so in the days leading up to it, he reached out to Dave Wannstedt and Barry Alvarez for advice. Partridge grasped everything his mentors had to say, but when it finally came time for FAU to open spring camp, Partridge was by himself.
FAU held it’s first of 15 practice sessions Wednesday morning, and with a new man in charge, the Owls passed the first of many tests.
Partridge was upbeat and all smiles when walking off the practice field, and according to the former assistant at Arkansas, things went as planned.
“My first knee jerk reaction is that I’m excited about where we are and ready to keep a steady pace,” Partridge said. “I think we certainly got strides to make. We’re not anywhere near game ready, but I’m excited.”
With a new staff in place Partridge had expected some hiccups in the opening drills, but in the near two-hour practice, things went smooth.
Partridge mentioned that running backs coach Roger Harriot, who served as a high school head coach last season, showed the type of energy that he expects out of his staff.
“It was fun watching Roger coach” Partridge said of Harriot. “He was coaching his players every single play, on the move, and on the fly. With an up-tempo offense that’s a challenge, and I thought he did a nice job.”
Junior quarterback Jaquez Johnson, who led the team in rushing last season, will be a focus this spring, but Partridge said it was his passing that stood out in the opening session. The coach explained that Johnson distributed the ball effectively, as did sophomore Greg Hankerson.
“I thought Quez threw the ball well today, as did Greg. But I really came out excited about how Quez threw the ball,” Partridge said.
There might not be an official competition at quarterback, but Hankerson appears ready to push Johnson for playing time much like he did last season.
The Owls spent the morning in just shorts and helmets, which allowed the coaches to work heavily on install. Partridge said after practice that the plan is to continue working in new verbiage on defense, while utilizing similar schemes from last season.
“There is continuity, obviously we have a change at the defensive coordinator position, but the style and the scheme is so similar. I feel like maybe we picked up where they left off last season and we’ll go from here,” Partridge said.
- Safety Damian Parms was seen leaving practice on crutches. He had his left ankle heavily wrapped, and wasn’t putting any weight on it. Parms finished second on the team in tackles last season, and is expected to anchor the defense.
- Partridge confirmed on Tuesday that DJ Juste had moved to wide receiver, but that wasn't the only position change. Former Miami Norland quarterback Tony Thomas was throwing passes on Wednesday. Thomas is a walk-on, who spent last season at wide receiver. It might be just a ploy to get an athletic quarterback on the scout team, but it should be noted that Thomas won a Class-5A state title as a quarterback.
- Coaches held a tryout after practice for specialists, with the primary focus being on place kickers. Eight or so kickers participated, with a few connecting on 45-yard attempts.