After opening spring practice behind closed doors Tuesday and Thursday, today second year head coach Charlie Partridge and the FAU Owls practiced in front of the public as media members, incoming recruits, and high school prospects were granted full access to the session.
The Owls practiced for two and a half hours behind the Tom Oxley Center in helmets and shoulder pads for the first time this spring.
Here are some of our observations made during the session.
- After wearing the jersey number 12 for two years as an Owl, Johnson will be switching to the number 32 for his senior season. The jersey switch will be in honor of a friend who passed away. "I always had a band that said '32 Forever' so I felt like it was time to do something bigger for him. Greg Hankerson has also switched his jersey number from six to three.
- Johnson has slimmed down noticeably and appears to have lost about 15 pounds.
- Johnson played with the first team to no one's surprise and looked sharp as he connected with senior Jenson Stoshak on two deep throws. Stoshak was heavily targeted by Johnson during today's various scrimmages as the two continue to build chemistry in their final seasons as an Owl.
- What was a surprise was the rest of the QB depth chart. Redshirt freshman Jason Driskel received most of the reps with the second team, true freshman Daniel Parr (pictured below) saw a majority of his action with the third team, and junior Greg Hankerson played most of his reps with the third team. Its only the third practice of spring ball so there's still a lot to iron out in terms of what the depth chart will be like behind Johnson.
- With that said, Parr looked the part as a freshmen. Tight spiral and displayed great mechanics throughout practice.
- Junior running back Jay Warren and sophomore running back Greg Howell both split reps with the first team and both looked great. Howell looks to have gained back his acceleration from the hamstring injury from last year as he made one-cut and got up the field several times with ease today.
- For the first time since Schnelley roamed the sidelines, snaps were being taken from under center. Each quarterback took a snap from under center and with Parr and Driskel being a traditional dropback quarterback, perhaps that may be a trend in years to come. Partidge did coach under Bret Bielema before coming to FAU.
- Senior defensive lineman Brandin Bryant did not dress for today's practice. Sophomore linebacker Jerrad Ward was walking around practice with a boot on his right foot.
- Junior Robert Relf, senior Freedom Whitifield, and redshirt sophomore Nate Ozedemir received most of the reps with the first team defense at linebacker. With Andrae Kirk gone, there is ample playing time available at the linebacker position.
- Someone's going to have to replace center Brayden Lyons and as of today his shoes remain empty. Low and high snaps occurred at various times during the scrimmages from sophomore Joe Gold. Like every spread offense, timing is key and the snap plays a critical part as to whether a play goes for a big gain or negative yards. Today the offensive line committed several false starts and at one point made two on back-to-back plays.
- Redshirt sophomore Dustin Bowens made a huge pancake block on Trevon Cooley in a running drill to spur a huge gain for Greg Howell. Bowens also displayed some nice hands by catching a few passes in the flats.
- Junior DJ Juste is in the midst of making a full-time switch from wide receiver to nickel corner according to defensive coordinator Roc Bellantoni.
The Owls will return to the field on Tuesday for the fourth of their 15 practices allotted by the NCAA.