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Quarterback a Lingering Question

Offensive coordinator Brian Wright explained Tuesday after practice that following FAU’s shocking loss to Rice, a decision has yet to be made at quarterback for the upcoming game against UAB.

Freshman Greg Hankerson filled in for the injured Jaquez Johnson at Rice, and turned the ball over three times in the fourth quarter. Hankerson (pictured) finished with 272 yards passing – which was the second most yards by an FAU quarterback in their first career start – but the turnovers simply out weighed his numbers.

"He made a lot of strides," Wright said of Hankerson. "He made a lot of improvements from the last time he was out there… We put him in a couple of tough spots and put some pressure on him in the end, and he didn’t take care of the football.”

Johnson is expected to be back this week and fully recovered from a shoulder bruise that kept him out of the lineup against Rice. Wright wouldn’t give a definitive answer if Johnson would retain his starting position, instead claiming that it would come down to game preparations.  

"We're going to evaluate Greg through the week and evaluate [Jaquez] throughout the week. Those guys know they're competing and they need to have good weeks in practice in order to play. I expect when their number is called that they are able to go out there and perform,” Wright said.

Earlier in the year Wright and the staff employed a two-quarterback rotation, but Johnson eventually separated himself from Hankerson in the team’s lone win of the season over USF.

Wright was asked on Tuesday if a return of the rotating system could be in the works, but it appears that won’t be the case.

“I don't plan on that right now, but I wouldn't say anything is out of the question,” Wright said. “It's a lot more work to get two guys on the same page rather than one. That's why the ideal situation is to stick with one, because you have only so many reps [in practice].”

The Owl’s have turned the ball over 14 times this season, which ranks an alarming 121st in the nation. Johnson and Hankerson have combined to account for a double-digit number of those turnovers, with both players having thrown costly interceptions and fumbled the ball in crucial moments.

One of the biggest issues FAU has had with turning the ball over, has been the offense’s inability to work with two different passers. Wright mentioned that some of the mistakes have been cued by communication errors in the passing game.

Wide receiver Lucky Whitehead, who had a career-high three catches at Rice, believes that while both quarterbacks have their differences, there still should be a sense of familiarity.

“We run routes with both of them and we should know what is coming from both of them,” Whitehead said. “We just got to work harder and not give up late in games like we have done.”

FAU will face a UAB defense that is giving up an average of 285 yards passing a game – but don’t expect a starting quarterback to be named before kickoff.