#104 Florida Atlantic Football 2015 Preview

Florida Atlantic Owls

Overall Rank: #104
#7 Conference USA

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#104 Florida Atlantic Football 2015 Preview

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During Coach Charlie Partridge’s first season with the program, Florida Atlantic struggled. The Owls went just 3-9 overall and 2-6 in Conference USA action. However, Coach Partridge has brought in talent and athleticism. Eventually that will result in wins, but it remains to be seen if that will happen this year or further down the road.

2014 Record: 3-9, 2-6
2014 Bowl: None
Coach: Charlie Partridge (3-9 at Florida Atlantic, 3-9 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Brian Wright
Defensive Coordinator: Roc Bellantoni

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jay Warren, RB, 571 yards
Passing: Jaquez Johnson, QB, 2,215 yards
Receiving: Jenson Stoshak, WR, 508 yards
Tackles: Cre’Von LeBlanc, CB, 71
Sacks: Trey Henderickson, DE, 5.0
Interceptions: Cre’LeBlanc, CB, 2

Other Key Returnees: OL Reggie Bain, OL Mikingson Marsaille, OL Dillon DeBoer, DT Trevon Coley, DT Brandin Bryant, DE Robinson Eugene, LB Freedom Whitfield, LB Robert Relf, K Greg Joseph, P Dalton Schomp

Key Losses: WR Lucky Whitehead, WR William Dukes, TE Alex DeLeon, OL Branden Lyons, LB Andrae Kirk, S Damian Parms, CB D’Joun Smith

The offense was pretty good at times in 2014 and they should be even better now. Quarterback Jaquez Johnson threw for 17 touchdowns and just five interceptions as a junior. His pass completion percentage was pretty low, but much of that can be blamed on the wide receivers. Johnson may not be the model of consistency, but the numbers would look much better if the receivers could hang onto the ball. And now Lucky Whitehead and William Dukes are gone so the receiver corps will have a new look, led by Jenson Stoshak and tight end Dustin Bowens. As an assistant to Bret Bielema, Coach Partridge has no problem keeping the ball on the ground though. Johnson can scramble very effectively, but Jay Warren also returns to line up in the backfield. Warren rushed for 571 yards on 121 carries in 2014. He lacks breakaway speed, but he can pick up chunks of yardage and move the chains. With four starting offensive linemen returning, this could be one of the better ground games in CUSA.

FAU was absolutely shredded on the ground last season. The good news is most of the defensive front seven returns and that experience can only help. The return of tackle Brandin Bryant, who missed all but five games with an injury last year, could make all of the difference. He is the type of player who can control the line of scrimmage and make everybody around him even better. The secondary was good last season, but the loss of three defensive back starters in the 4-2-5 defense hurts. Cornerback Cre’von LeBlanc is the new star of the unit and FAU has brought in a lot of young talent to fill in around him. If the secondary can remain nearly as strong as they were in 2014 and the front seven can stop somebody, the Owls defense will make major strides this season.

The Bottom Line:
Grinding out wins is not exactly how Conference USA tends to work, but that is what this team can do. Their defense is built to stop the pass happy offenses, but FAU’s ability to run the ball should lead to some close games against more talented opponents. Then it comes down to execution and avoiding mistakes. In 2014, four losses came by a field goal or less. This team was not that far off from a 7-5 season. The goal from day one should be six wins. There is not much margin for error, but this is a program that has the talent to reach their first bowl game since 2008.

Projected Bowl: Arizona Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 163.6 (60th in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 199.5 (90, 8)
Total Offense: 363.1 (101, 8)
Scoring Offense: 24.0 (94, 9)
Rushing Defense: 222.1 (112, 12)
Pass Defense: 238.7 (84, 9)
Total Defense: 460.8 (110, 11)
Scoring Defense: 34.4 (108, 10)
Turnover Margin: -0.25 (85, 9)
Sacks: 1.92 (82, 10)
Sacks Allowed: 1.75 (39, 5)


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