2013 Florida Atlantic Preview - Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 4, 2013


CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Florida Atlantic Owl Offense


Florida Atlantic Owls

Preview 2013 - Offense

- 2013 Florida Atlantic Preview | 2013 Florida Atlantic Offense
- 2013 Florida Atlantic Defense | 2013 Florida Atlantic Depth Chart

What You Need To Know: Second-year coordinator Brian Wright is just itching to unleash the totality of his spread option offense, which could happen this fall. A year ago, his quarterback, Graham Wilbert, was steady, but lacked the athleticism the coach needs to operate his aggressive attack. This fall, though, Wright will have access to two former JUCO dual-threats, Melvin German and Jaquez Johnson, who are better fits for his playbook. Florida Atlantic wants to keep defenses on their heels, forcing them to respect myriad different players and looks. The quarterback will, naturally, be the key. If German or Johnson delivers, it’s going to accentuate the budding talents of RB Jonathan Wallace, TE Nexon Dorvilus and the William Dukes-led corps of wide receivers. Wright must also contend with a rebuilding offensive line that should stand among the least effective in the FBS. The group got schooled routinely in 2012, and now must replace three of its starters.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Stephen Curtis
4-10, 37 yds, 0 TDs, 0 INT
Rushing: Jonathan Wallace
175 carries, 673 yds, 6 TDs
Receiving: William Dukes
63 catches, 979 yds, 4 TDs

Star of the offense: Junior WR William Dukes
Player who has to step up and become a star: Senior QB Melvin German III
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OG Mike Marsaille
Best pro prospect: Dukes
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Dukes, 2) Senior TE Nexon Dorvilus, 3) Senior RB Jonathan Wallace
Strength of the offense: Athletic quarterbacks, running back, receivers
Weakness of the offense: Inconsistent passers, the O-line, big plays, scoring

Quarterbacks

Now that steady Graham Wilbert has graduated, Florida Atlantic is in the market for a new starting quarterback. Senior Melvin German III has the edge, but it’s a slight one at that. The 6-2, 210-pound transfer from Pearl River (Miss.) Community College was expected to compete last year, but was forced to sit out because of academics. German is a terrific athlete, with just enough zip to fit the ball into tight spaces.

Tailing German this past spring was sophomore Jaquez Johnson, who did a one-year apprenticeship at East Mississippi Community College. At 6-1 and 225 pounds, he’s built like a fullback, barreling through defenses when he breaks containment. Johnson is not as prolific or accurate through the air as German, which could wind up being the difference in this competition.

Ironically, the most experienced Owl hurler, 6-3, 225-pound junior Stephen Curtis, is also least likely to win the job. He started the 2012 opener, and has played in five games in each of the last two years, but he lacks the upside potential and playmaking ability of German and Johnson.

Watch Out For .... Carl Pelini to anoint German as his starter a week or so into fall camp. While the coach wants to create a competitive environment at all positions, German is the more complete player of the two. Pelini will want to let the rest of the team know as early as possible who’ll be leading the offense in 2013.
Strength: Athleticism. In German and Johnson, Florida Atlantic has two players capable of extending plays with their feet, and picking up first downs on designed runs. Both are dual-threats behind center, but it’s their feet that will really keep opposing defenses on their heels.
Weakness: Consistency in the passing game. German didn’t get better offers coming out of junior-college because he made too many mistakes through the air. He was picked off 17 times in 2011, and his accuracy on deep throws is sporadic. He’ll float throws on occasion, which a higher caliber of defensive back is going to pluck out of the air.
Outlook: Florida Atlantic is happy to finally have German available. He’s poised in the huddle, and brings some electricity to the offense. And if he fails to do so, Johnson is just itching for a chance to take his place in the lineup. The concerns here are a lack of relevant experience and passing game struggles, which could take half a year or so to iron out.
Rating: 4.5

Running Backs

The Owls feel as if they’ve located a feature back in Jonathan Wallace, who nabbed a starting role in his first season of action out of Ellsworth (Iowa) Community College. The 6-1, 210-pound workhorse is more substance than style, locating the hole and consistently forging ahead for positive yards. After being slowed early in the season with a hamstring injury, Wallace got healthy enough to command a larger role, especially in the second half of 2012. He finished the year with 673 yards and six touchdowns on 175 carries, numbers he should easily surpass this year.

After not playing in 2012, 5-11, 220-pound junior Tony Moore has made a surprising push in the offseason for the No. 2 job. He’s an assertive north-south runner, whose blocking ability has caught the attention of the coaching staff.

Looking over Moore’s shoulder is 5-10, 200-pound senior Damian Fortner, last season’s second-leading rusher. Though touches were scarce once Wallace took over, Fortner was able to amass 318 yards and three scores on 90 carries, adding 21 receptions for 141 yards and another touchdown. His most productive game came in the loss to Georgia.

Watch Out For .... the backs to become more involved in the passing game. The line is suspect, which means the quarterbacks won’t have a lot of time in the pocket to check down receivers. One solution will be dump-offs to a group of backs that showed reliable hands last fall.
Strength: North-south runners. The Owls’ top three backs have something in common—each is at least 200 pounds, with the mindset to lower their shoulders and plow forward when a defender approaches. Florida Atlantic should be a decent short-yardage team, compelling the coaches to take a stab on fourth-and-short.
Weakness: Chunk yards. Florida Atlantic is not the type of running team that’s going to explode outside the tackles and into daylight. The team averaged just 3.4 yards a carry, while ranking 107th nationally on the ground. The play of the line was a factor, but the backs need to play a little quicker and make yards on their own.
Outlook: Wallace was a real find for Florida Atlantic, which plans to give its feature back the touches he needs to contend for All-Conference USA honors. He should expect north of 200 carries in 2013, while getting occasional breathers from Moore and Fortner. The backs might have to share the spotlight at times with the quarterbacks, who’ll do more freelancing than a year ago.
Rating: 4.5

Receivers

Last year’s top three receivers are back for Florida Atlantic, promising news for whichever quarterback wins the right to replace Graham Wilbert. The star of the corps will once again be junior WR William Dukes, a Second Team All-Sun Belt selection about to generate a little national notoriety. The 6-4, 190-pound glider was the biggest beneficiary in Florida Atlantic’s new spread attack, catching a team-high 63 passes for 979 yards and four touchdowns. Dukes still needs to refine his pass-catching skills and route-running. However, he has the size, speed and long arms that usually wind up in Gainesville, Miami or Tallahassee instead of Boca Raton.

Complementing Dukes from the interior will be dangerous TE Nexon Dorvilus, the Owls’ other Second Team All-Sun Belt performer on offense a year ago. Long and lean at 6-4 and 230 pounds, the senior has the overall package of size and athleticism to create matchup problems with opposing linebackers. Despite splitting time in 2012, Dorvilus still managed to catch 30 passes for 301 yards and five touchdowns. With continued growth on the little things, he’s liable to attract the attention of pro scouts this fall.

Testament to the program’s depth at tight end, Dorvilus has yet to lock down a starting job. He’s being challenged once again by junior Alex Deleon, a four-game starter in 2012. The 6-4, 210-pounder caught 13 passes for 77 yards and a touchdown, and has consistently been one of the hardest workers during the offseason. Deleon is the school’s first Iron Owl recipient, given to the player who best exemplifies dedication in the weight room and in conditioning drills.

The starter at “W” receiver will be 6-0, 205-pound senior Daniel McKinney, a second-year Owl out of the City of San Francisco (Calif.). In his debut in Boca, the Detroit native caught 48 passes for 497 yards and two touchdowns. So versatile is McKinney that he pitched in and played a little safety last season as well.

The favorite to become the Owl’s third starting wide receiver, at “X”, is 6-1, 176-pound sophomore Jenson Stoshak. He laid a nice foundation as a rookie walk-on, starting a pair of games, and making 15 grabs for 259 yards and two scores. Stoshak has since been awarded a scholarship, convincing the staff he’ll continue to grow as a target.

Florida Atlantic will be experienced off the bench. Behind Dukes at “Z” is 6-0, 175-pound junior Marcus Cunningham. He started three games in 2012, but lacked the consistency to have staying power, and only caught four balls for 33 yards and a touchdown. More is expected from No. 83 this year. Senior DeAndre Richardson, Stoshak’s backup at “X”, is back after missing last season with a leg injury. In 2011, the 6-2, 180-pounder led the team with 32 catches for 269 yards.

Watch Out For.... the impact of Indiana transfer Jay McCants, who caught six balls as a rookie in Bloomington in 2011. The 6-4, 215-pound wideout has yet to even appear on the two-deep, but that’ll change in a hurry in August. He has the skill set to become a deep ball threat, using his speed and long arms to outclass defensive backs.
Strength: Size advantages. The Owls are comprised of long and rangy receivers and tight ends who are going to cause problems for Conference USA defensive backs. The starters average around 6-3, which will allow the Florida Atlantic quarterbacks to float balls up high that can be plucked from the air.
Weakness: Sustained excellence. The coaching staff wants to see better execution from the pass-catchers, especially now that so many veterans return for another season. With an additional season of experience in the system, the Owls are looking for better routes, fewer drops and improved blocking by the receivers when the is not in their hands.
Outlook: The wide receivers and tight ends are the strength of the offense. But now they need to get better in all phases. Dukes and Dorvilus are the linchpins, the playmakers that will really make the passing game hum when the quarterbacks cooperate. The evolution of Dukes will be interesting, both to local fans and intrigued pro scouts. The higher No. 19 ascends, the easier life becomes for the rest of his teammates on offense.
Rating: 5

Offensive Line

No unit on offense worries the staff more than the line. Florida Atlantic got abused up front in 2012, and now must replace three seniors from that group. One of the two returning starters, senior DeAndre Williams will be back at the pivotal left tackle spot. The 6-5, 290-pounder starter every game a year ago, and has the potential to become the team’s anchor up front.

The other experienced veteran on which this unit will lean is 6-3, 295-pound senior Mustafa Johnson, the anchor at the pivot. He learned on the job in his debut out of Riverside (Calif.) Community College, starting all but one of the team’s games.

After Williams and Johnson, there will be loads of question marks and consternation. Forming a bookend with Williams at right tackle will be 6-5, 295-pound junior Branden Lyons. Just a year removed from City College of San Francisco (Calif.), he’s attempting to learn new system on the fly.

The most experienced guard in Boca Raton will be 6-5, 335-pound senior Stern Vile, the frontrunner on the left side. The massive native of the Netherlands attended a high school that did not play football, so he’s relatively new to the sport. He did, however, spend a couple of years learning the game at Eastern Arizona Community College.

The likely starter at right guard is 6-5, 300-pound sophomore Mike Marsaille, an underclassmen with a high ceiling. He earned a letter as a rookie last, gradually getting comfortable with the speed of the college game. Marsaille has good feet for a big man, and could play tackle if needed.

Watch Out For .... the whereabouts of Mr. Ragoo. Junior Johnathon Ragoo was a former three-star recruit of Minnesota, but he’s on the verge of disappointing his second school. The hulking 6-7, 342-pounder looks the part, but has been unable to convince the staff that he belongs in the lineup.
Strength: Vets at key positions. If you’re going to only have two starters back on the O-line, it helps to have them be at center and left tackle. The new quarterback, either Melvin German or Jaquez Johnson, can take solace in knowing a senior is both guarding his blindside and snapping him the ball.
Weakness: Moving the pile. The Owls failed to hold their ground last fall, and it’s hard to imagine that the reconstructed group will be any better. Florida Atlantic houses minimal talent and experience, a situation that’ll be exacerbated by the move to a tougher league in 2013.
Outlook: The offensive line is going to be a very tender and inconsistent area of the offense for Florida Atlantic. Not only do just two starters return, but the entire unit is closer to a Big South Conference level than Conference USA-caliber. Oh, and if the Owls’ depth gets tested, the situation will decay even further.
Rating: 4.5
 
- 2013 Florida Atlantic Preview | 2013 Florida Atlantic Offense
- 2013 Florida Atlantic Defense | 2013 Florida Atlantic Depth Chart