2011 Florida Atlantic Preview - Offense
Florida Atlantic TE Darian Williams
Florida Atlantic TE Darian Williams
Posted May 23, 2011

CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - Florida Atlantic Owl Offense

Florida Atlantic Owls

Preview 2011 - Offense

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What You Need To Know:
After a 2009 with a veteran attack that produced some decent numbers, the Owls had to completely rebuild parts of offense, and it showed. The pass protection was miserable and the passing game was wildly inefficient. Now the line returns all the key parts and Alfred Morris is one of the Sun Belt's best backs, but the concern is at quarterback where there are some very big, very strong bombers who have to have to fight it out for the job. David Kooi and Graham Wilbert are huge, but they need time. The receiving corps has to find a No. 1 target to replace Lester Jean, but tight end Darian Williams should be fine in place of the ultra-athletic Rob Housler.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Graham Wilbert
1-5, 41 yds, 0 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Alfred Morris
227 carries, 928 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: DeAndre Richardson
12 catches, 114 yds, 0 TD

Star of the offense: Senior RB Alfred Morris
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior QBs David Kooi and Graham Wilbert
Unsung star on the rise: Senior TE Darian Williams
Best pro prospect: Morris
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Morris, 2) OT Sam McRoy, 3) Williams
Strength of the offense: Athleticism, Running Back
Weakness of the offense: Pass Protection, Wide Receiver


State of the Unit: FAU hasn't exactly lit up the world with its passing game, but it has enjoyed two straight pro prospects under center with Rusty Smith and Jeff Van Camp handling the offense. Now there will be an ongoing battle to find the right guy, and it might take most of the year to figure out the situation.

6-7, 210-pound junior David Kooi is a huge, big-armed passer who might be rail thin, but he knows how to operate a pro-style offense and he fits the system well. Athletic, he's not a stick in the mud and will move a little bit when needed, and now he needs the miles after throwing just two passes last year and completing 3-of-6 throws for 69 yards. The tools are there to come up with a big year, but he'll be in a constant fight with Graham Wilbert , a 6-6, 225-pound junior who completed 1-of-5 passes for 41 yards (with all the yards coming against Michigan State) and a pick. Very big and with a huge arm, he has ability to push the passing game and stretch the field. However, he's not mobile and needs time to work.

The battle for the starting job will be in the spotlight, but the backup fight will be good, too, with 6-3, 220-pound redshirt freshman Nick Bracewell and 6-3, 225-pound redshirt freshman Stephen Curtis in a fight. They're both big and they both throw extremely well with Curtis a decent runner who can make things happen around the goal line, while Bracewell is an accurate passer who doesn't make a slew of mistakes.

Watch Out For … Kooi and Wilbert to each get their chances. Wilbert might be the better option, but Kooi is getting every shot to win the gig. They're each bombers and they'll each put a scare into opposing Sun Belt defenses.
Strength: Size. The FAU quarterbacks, as a unit, might be the biggest in America. From the 6-7 Kooi and with NFL size of Bracewell and Curtis, the Owls are intimidating under center.
Weakness: Passing efficiency. Last year the receiving corps was full of veterans and Jeff Van Camp had all the ability to make things go, but the Owls finished 73rd in the nation in passing efficiency and averaged 208 yards per game.
Outlook: Last year, part of the goal was to get the backups some time so the passing game could hit the ground running. It didn't happen, and now the passing game has to figure out who the main man is going to be with Kooi and Wilbert two very big, very promising options who'll bomb away. Accuracy will be a key for a passing game that completed 56% with 17 touchdowns and 14 picks.
Unit Rating: 5.5

Running Backs

State of the Unit: The Owls didn't have much of a running game averaging a mere 94 yards per game, but a big part of that came from a slew of sacks allowed by the porous offensive front. Even so, there are some decent backs who can produce big if given a little bit of room to move.

Senior Alfred Morris is a big, bruising, 5-11, 222-pound runner who carried the load throughout last year running for 928 yards and seven touchdowns averaging 4.1 yards per carry. He hit the 100 yard mark three times, with 153 yards against ULM and 143 against Louisiana, and he's strong enough to handle 20+ carries on a regular basis without a problem. While he's not much of a receiver, with just eight grabs, he caught a touchdown pass against the Ragin' Cajuns. A former high school linebacker, as well as a runner, he's physical and has just enough wiggle to break off big runs now and then.

Making a huge impact this offseason is sophomore Damian Fortner, a pure speed back who was a high school track star as both a sprinter and in the long jump. While he's only 5-10 and 171 pounds, he can fly, adding a desperately needed home run hitting element.

5-10, 170-pound sophomore Travis Jones is also a speedster who'll add more flash than Morris. Jones only carries the ball two times for one yard, but he has the talent and the ability to become a major factor with good hands and a fantastic burst in the open field. He needs to be the playmaker for the ground game. He'll combine with Willie Floyd , a 5-9, 185-pound senior with good speed and a nice burst averaging 6.4 yards per carry finishing second on the team with 256 yards and a touchdown while catching 12 passes for 141 yards and a score.

5-9, 229-pound veteran Xavier Stinson is a do-it-all junior who finished third on the team with 95 yards, averaging just 3.3 yards per carry, and with 12 catches for 100 yards and two scores. This year, he'll be used as a fullback. Short and squatty, he's a good blocker with just enough quickness, even after suffering a knee injury earlier in his career, to be used as a kick returner if needed.

Watch Out For … Morris to gain 1,000 yards. He was extremely close to being the first player in FAU history to hit the 1,000-yard mark in back-to-back seasons, but he'll do it this year as the main man for the attack.
Strength: Experience. There's no question that Morris is the starter, but there are several other options to play around with. The Owls have speed, quickness, and power, and while that's not all in the same back, they can work in different backs.
Weakness: Production. Morris might have come up with 928 yards and seven scores, but the offense only netted 2.8 yards per carry and only got one rushing touchdown from anyone else. There was almost never any room to move.
Outlook: FAU has always preferred to move the ball through the air, but with Morris and other veterans in the mix, there should be even more from the ground game until the quarterback situation is settled. After a disappointing year, expect a bit of a bounceback.
Unit Rating: 5.5


State of the Unit: The top targets are all gone including pro prospect tight end Rob Housler, who came up with a fantastic workout at the Combine, and Lester Jean, the team's leading receiver with 64 catches for 988 yards. The two came up with 12 of the team's 17 touchdown catches, and running backs accounted for most of the rest.

Taking over for Jean on the X is DeAndre Richardson , the team's leading returning receiver with 12 catches for 114 yards last year. The 6-2, 180-pound sophomore is a terrific athlete with nice size and good upside, but he was never considered a big-time prospect and has to show he can handle the workload of being the main option. If he can't get it done, 6-1, 180-pound junior Byron Hankerson will bring the wheels. One of the fastest players in the receiving corps, he needs to be a big factor early on to add more pop to a passing game that didn't get enough deep plays.

6-0, 175-pound redshirt freshman Marcus Cunningham has decent quickness and nice hands, but he's strictly an inside receiver at the Z … for now. He could be moved outside to try to see what he can do on deeper routes, but for the moment his job will be to make plays on the move.

In desperate need of more options, the Owls have to hope for production early on from two of their top recruits. 6-4, 190-pound William Dukes and 6-2, 200-pound Hakeeme Ishmar are tall, talented prospects with the ability to shine right away. Dukes came up with 47 catches last year even though he played in a running offense, and with his sprinter's speed and great athleticism, he has the talent to be a No. 1. Ishmar is extremely strong, very tough, and the type of receiver who'll be physical across the middle. It's possible Ishmar could turn into a smallish tight end, while 6-3, 225-pound senior Darian Williams will get the first shot at taking over for Housler. Williams was a top recruit a few years ago, but he hasn't done too much yet with just nine catches last year for 110 yards. Built like a big receiver, he has the potential to be a top safety valve on midrange plays, but he's not going to come up with the big plays like Housler. 6-4, 225-pound sophomore Nexon Dorvilus was a high school defensive end and ended up playing on the offensive line when he came to FAU. A great blocker with excellent speed, he has an interesting mix of talents.

Watch Out For … Richardson. If he's not fantastic, it's uh-oh time. While he's not an elite talent, he has good hands and he has the potential to be the main man for the attack right away. At least that's the hope.
Strength: Big passers. FAU is great at bringing in big, strong passers with live arms, and there will be no problems getting the ball from any of the quarterback options.
Weakness: Experience. Last year, the receiving corps was Lester Jean and a lot of hope. As it turned out, that's exactly what it was for the wide receivers. Now there's even less experience with way too many untested parts to rely on.
Outlook: The FAU receiving corps has decent athleticism, good promise, and several good parts to get excited about. However, there's almost no real experience and at least two players have to step up and become reliable immediately. Last year, finding a No. 2 receiver was the problem. This year, it's finding a No.1.
Unit Rating: 4.5

Offensive Line

State of the Unit: Last year was about rebuilding the front five, and it showed. There was little in the way of pass protection, no steady pounding for the running game, and inconsistencies all throughout the year. Now things have changed with all five starters back and with the hope for more cohesion.

6-4, 275-pound senior Sam McRoy is the anchor of the line at left tackle, starting 11 games last year and serving as the team's top pass protector. He moves extremely well and he's tough, but he needs to be steadier with even more responsibility. On the other side will once again be Max Karrick , a 6-6, 300-pound hitter with great height and the right frame. He's extremely strong and has the power to bury his man in the ground game.

Working at center is junior Jordan Sessa , a 6-5, 280-pound veteran who has been one of the team's biggest blockers and has the ability to be a good leader. Very smart, he has no problem making the line calls and he has the toughness to push people around at times in the ground game.

Both guards are back with 6-5, 270-pound junior Andy Czuprynski in his second year at left guard after moving over from the defensive line. While he's a bit tall for the position and he's not necessarily a bruiser, he's tough as nails and he fits the system. At right guard will once again be Chris Newbold, a 6-5, 285-pound senior who came to FAU as a possible defensive lineman, but he has found a home on the offensive front. Very tough and very strong, he could grow into even more of a nasty run blocker.

At 6-3 and 300 pounds, junior Ricardo Henry is one of the team's biggest blockers, and with a little time spent at the JUCO level, he's ready to step in if needed at left guard as a bigger option than Czuprynski. At 6-5 and 268 pounds, sophomore Joe Bailey fits the old way FAU used to use its offensive line. While he's not all that big, he's a tall, athletic tackle who can fill in and add more movement.

Watch Out For … A much, much better season. The FAU line that returned just one starter last year now brings back all the key parts and there should be more cohesion and more production.
Strength: Experience. Not only was last year's line starting from near-scratch, but it didn't have any real options to play around with. The depth was non-existent considering the starting experience was minimal. That's not a problem this time around.
Weakness: Blocking. The line didn't do much for the ground game and it almost got the quarterbacks killed. The front five allowed 36 sacks and the passing game always struggled to find any semblance of consistency.
Outlook: Unlike past years when the Owl line relied on smallish, athletic linemen, this group is bigger and tougher but still relatively athletic. It should be far more consistent and it should be better at coming up with long, pounding drives. Now it needs to be better in pass protection.
Unit Rating: 5

- 2011 Florida Atlantic Preview | 2011 Florida Atlantic Offense
- 2011 Florida Atlantic Defense | 2011 Florida Atlantic Depth Chart
- Florida Atlantic Previews  2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006