Head Coach: Lane Kiffin (11-3)
2017 Record: 11-3 (Conference USA Champs)
Offensive Scheme: Spread
Defensive Scheme: Multiple (4-3 Base)
Key Offensive Losses: QB Jason Driskel, RB Greg Howell, WR Kamrin Solomon, WR Kalib Woods, OL Antonyo Woods, OL Roman Fernandez
Key Defensive Losses: DT Jeremiah Taleni
For all that he is, Florida Atlantic’s Lane Kiffin can coach football. He doesn’t always say, or do, things the right way but when it comes to X’s and O’s he possesses a substantially higher than average IQ. In fact, his “football smarts” have never really been the problem during his frequent stops around the world of football. Outside of a failed experiment at the head coach of the Oakland Raiders, Kiffin has a track record of success.
National championships at USC and Alabama (as an offensive coordinator), and winning records at Tennessee and USC, while the Trojans were on probation, (As a head coach) gloss Kiffin’s resume. However it’s the 2018 season offers Kiffin the opportunity to prove his coaching merit above all else.
Taking a team that was 3-9 in 2016 and turning them into Conference USA champions, with an 11-3 record, a year later was quite an accomplishment. But can he replicate that, or even do better, in 2018? That’s the FAU story line this summer and Kiffin’s Owls will get their first test of the season against Oklahoma, in Norman, on September 1st.
New Coaching Personnel
Not only will Kiffin be breaking in a new quarterback when Florida Atlantic visits Oklahoma. He’ll also be breaking in new coordinators. Among them in Charlie Weis Jr., who has become the youngest offensive coordinator in modern college football history. Weis replaces former Baylor offensive coordinator Kendal Briles who left to take over the play-calling duties at Houston.
On the defensive side of the ball, Kiffin lost his brother (Chris) to the San Francisco 49ers. Filling that void is former Southern Miss defensive coordinator Tony Pecoraro who loves to use the blitz from disguised positions.
|2017 Offensive Leaders|
|Jason Driskel||1,977||Devin Singletary||1,796||Willie Wright||586|
Jason Driskel announced his retirement from football in January, opening the way for a quarterback battle to ensue during the spring and summer. Former Florida State quarterback De’Andre Johnson and one-time Oklahoma enrollee Chris Robinson exited the spring in a neck-and-neck battle. Both potentially have a higher ceiling than Driskel but Weis is going to have to find a way to replicate the experience and game management that Driskel was.
A fantastic resource for Weis is going to be having junior running back Devin Singletary in the backfield. At 5-9/200, Singletary has the uncanny combination of power and speed. Last year he ran his way nearly to the 2,000 yard mark at a clip of 6.1 yards per carry. His 30 combined touchdowns (29 rushing/1 receiving) make him one of the top threats in the FAU offense and while Weis and his quarterback will just be getting their feet wet you would expect them to lean heavily on their workhorse.
That’s not to say the Owls don’t have talent on the edges. West Virginia transfer Jovon Durante becomes eligible this fall and will join Willie Wright to give FAU two legitimate downfield threats. As a freshman last season, Wright paced Florida Atlantic in receiving yards and hauled in four touchdowns. Junior tight end Harrison Bryant will also be a big factor in the pass game, after leading the team with 5 touchdown receptions in 2017.
|2017 Offensive Stastics|
The key for Florida Atlantic’s offensive success is going to be how quickly the interior of the offensive line comes together. The Owls graduated three linemen from 2017, including All-Conference selections Antonyo Woods and Roman Fernandez. The addition of grad transfer center Junior Diaz, from Tulane, is a big help.
|2018 FAU Schedule|
|September 1||at Oklahoma|
|September 8||Air Force|
|September 21||at Central Florida|
|September 29||at Middle Tennessee|
|October 6||Old Dominion|
|October 20||at Marshall|
|October 26||Louisiana Tech|
|November 3||at Florida International|
|November 10||Western Kentucky|
|November 15||@ North Texas|
|2017 Defensive Leaders|
|Azeez Al-Shaair||147||Rashad Smith & Hunter Snyder||6||Jalen Young||7|
Returning ten starters on a particular side of the ball is never going to be a bad thing. That’s the situation FAU finds themselves in with the defense. The Owls graduated defensive tackle Jeremiah Taleni but return everyone else, including Jalen Young who was tied second nationally in interceptions.
— Paxton Boyd (@paxton) November 4, 2017
In total Florida Atlantic snagged 20 interceptions last season which also ranked 2nd nationally. Up front Steven Leggett, Hunter Snyder and Leighton McCarthy will be joined by JUCO transfer Charles Cameron to continue one of the better pass rushing units in Conference USA.
|2017 Defensive Stastics|
Jalen Young is set to continue returning punts this fall, aver averaging 12.4 yards per return last season, and Kerrith Whyte is as explosive of a kickoff returner as you’ll find.
ICYMI: HISTORY. MADE. A 98 yards touchdown return by Kerrith Whyte. The first return for a touchdown in the history of the program. 👏 pic.twitter.com/f4NnHmbu2T
— FAU Football (@FAU_Football) November 13, 2017
The priority for Florida Atlantic is replacing both their kicker and punter. The Owls have opened up the kicking competitions to replace placekicker Greg Joseph and punter Ryan Rickel, who both graduated, by bringing in several walk-on players.
That’s not typically an ideal situation but it is the only difficult spot FAU finds themselves in as fall camp approaches.