After going 3-9 three straight years, Florida Atlantic finally caught a break with a killer 11-3 season in year one under Lane Kiffin. Last year, they fell back to earth after losing both coordinators and their quarterback, going 5-7. Although they probably played more like a 7-5 team, but just couldn’t close out tight games, going 0-3 in games decided by a field goal or less.
Kiffin has been recruiting remarkably well since his arrival in Boca, but he now has to deal with the losses of guys like RB Devin Singletary and WR Jovon Durante and will have to heavily lean into youngsters, especially on offense.
The Owls had a pretty great offense last year considering they had a freshman starting at QB. Chris Robinson was inconsistent (12 touchdowns, 12 interceptions) but showed flashes in year one, he will be challenged by Florida State transfer Deondre Francois who was inconsistent (57%, 15 TD, 12 INTs) at FSU last year but is likely going to get a second chance at FAU.
The running game is what carried the offense last year, but they lose two NFL-caliber rushers in Devin Singletary (1,348 yards, 22 touchdowns, 5.2 YPA) and Kerrith Whythe (866 yards, eight touchdowns, 6.5 YPA rushing, 160 yards, two touchdowns, 16.0 YPC receiving), along with top pass-catcher Jovon Durante (873 yards, five touchdowns, 13.4 YPC).
Now, with a ton of turnover in the skill positions, it’s time for some guys to step up like TE Harrison Bryant, who was the #2 receiver last year, slot receiver Willie Wright, and seniors Tavaris Harrison and John Mitchell along with plenty of highly touted underclassmen.
The running back spot is a pretty big question mark. Redshirt freshman Malcolm Davidson seems to have some potential along with true freshman Cameron Wynn, they are the future, but for the present time, I’m interested in Alabama transfer BJ Emmons. The line returns a couple of names but will likely see three underclassmen in starting roles, so keep an eye on that.
Francois in the red, white, and blue really interests me, and if he and Emmons can fill holes at QB and RB, there is enough talent in the receiving corps for this to be a top C-USA offense again despite the losses of Singletary and others.
Former Oklahoma State and Charlotte DC Glenn Spencer is the new head guy on defense after the Owls took a big step back in 2018.
There are a lot of highly touted recruits at all three levels, but the defense will probably play fewer young guys than the offense on the whole.
The secondary was solid last year and three starters are back between juniors Zyon Gilbert, James Pierre (9 PBUs!), and Quran Hafiz. The other two starting spots are up in the air and depth is an issue as there is a lot of experience without much talent and talent without much experience behind those three.
LB Rashad Smith (4.5 TFL, four interceptions) was the top tackler and is back, and end Leighton McCarthy was solid last year. USC transfer Noah Jefferson is a name to watch at NG.
Outside of Smith and Pierre there aren’t a ton of exciting names on the defense. Plenty of underclassmen have potential though, and I could see a few of them breaking out.
The schedule works out perfectly for FAU in C-USA play, as their four toughest conference opponents will all have to come to Boca, making the Owls favorites in every single conference game this year.
Now, on the flip side, the Owls are double-digit favorites in zero conference games, so while the potential for an 8-0 season is there, a 4-4 season feels just as likely.
I feel pretty good about the offense, although a lot of that comes down to banking on transfers succeeding which my computer doesn’t really like to do, and the defense is a big question mark.
Throw a dart at a board for this team, seriously. 13 wins and five wins are both relatively plausible.
|Date||Opponent||OPP. Rank||Proj. Margin|
|31-Aug||at Ohio State||5||-22.7|
|14-Sep||at Ball State||113||6.6|
|26-Oct||at Old Dominion||115||7.6|
|2-Nov||at Western Kentucky||105||2.5|
Average Projected Record: 7.6 wins, 4.4 losses (5.5 wins, 2.5 losses)