2008 Florida Atlantic Preview - Offense
Florida Atlantic RB Charles Pierre
CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Florida Atlantic Owl Offense
Preview 2008 - Offense
2008 CFN Florida
2008 FAU Offense
2008 FAU Defense
2008 FAU Depth
2007 CFN FAU Preview
2006 CFN FAU
What you need to know:
Almost everyone returns on what
should be the Sun Belt's best offense. No one in the league can
touch FAU's talent at the skill positions, led by Sun Belt
Player of the Year Rusty Smith at quarterback, while the line
that was 13th in the nation in sacks allowed gets most of the
key parts back. The receiving corps, led by WR Cortez Gent and
TE Jason Harmon, is deep and talented, while the backfield has
three good backs in Charles Pierre (the runner), William Rose
(the receiver) and DiIvory Edgecomb (the all-around talent) to
do even more for the ground game. While there might be a little
more balance, this is a passing team. Smith could throw for
4,000 yards after gong for 3,688 last year.
Passing: Rusty Smith
281-479, 3,688 yds, 32 TD, 9 INT
Rushing: Charles Pierre
170 carries, 782 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: Cortez Gent
64 catches, 1,082 yds, 9 TD
Star of the offense: Junior QB Rusty Smith
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior OG
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Lester Jean
Best pro prospect: Smith
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Smith, 2) WR Cortez
Gent, 3) TE Jason Harmon
Strength of the offense: Quarterback, receivers,
Weakness of the offense: Running game, backup quarterback
Projected Starter: Junior Rusty Smith showed tremendous
promise as a freshman, and then took his game to another level
as a sophomore becoming the Sun Belt Player of the year
completing 59% of his passes for 3,688 yards and 32 touchdowns
with just nine interceptions. A steady, confident leader, he has
an excellent arm and the 6-5, 215-pound size to be able to see
the field and make the big play without much of a problem. Not a
runner, he's a pro style passer who came up big in some of the
biggest games. He bombed Minnesota for 463 yards and five
touchdowns and threw for 336 yards and five scores against
Memphis in the New Orleans Bowl. Now he's expected to take yet
another step up in his production with all the key parts
Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Jeff VanCamp
is a promising 6-5, 210-pound bomber who saw a little bit of
time last year in mop-up duties. He's a smart, athletic passer
who should be able to make plays on the move whenever he gets a
Two 6-3, 200-pound redshirt freshmen, Robert Nolin and
Alex Fick, will battle it out for the No. 3 job. Fick needs
a bit more time and work, while Nolin is a good prospect with a
Watch Out For ... Smith to do even more. After
throwing for 3,688 yards and 32 touchdowns, 4,000 yards and 40
scores isn't out of the question with so much talent returning
Strength: Size. There aren't any smallish,
scrambling quarterbacks here. FAU has four tall, lanky bombers
with live arms.
Weakness: Backup experience. Smith has been so
good that there hasn't been any room for the younger guys to see
any meaningful time. Sean Clayton was the backup last year, and
now he's gone.
Outlook: Smith was the best quarterback in the Sun
Belt last year and will be the preseason favorite to win a
second straight Player of the Year honor. He's a special
playmaker who makes everyone around him better, and was great at
keeping his poise and calm when thrown to the wolves early;
he'll have total command now. Now a backup has to be counted on
to come through if needed.
Projected Starters: Senior Charles Pierre led the team in
rushing for the second year in a row with 782 yards and seven
touchdowns, averaging 4.6 yards per carry, and will be the
featured back again. At 5-9 and 195 pounds, he's a quick,
darting runner with surprising power and excellent speed.
However, he didn't break off many big runs and he wasn't used
much as a receiver with just two catches for six yards and a
Able to work in the rotation versatile junior fullback
William Rose, who finished second on the team with 333 yards
and a touchdown rushing, and was third on the team with 38
catches for 264 yards and seven scores. While he's a good
blocker, he's at his best coming out of the backfield as a
receiver. He averaged a whopping 5.3 yards per carry, and busted
out a 41-yard run, and was a short-range receiver averaging just
6.9 yards per catch.
Projected Top Reserves: Working behind Pierre will
be senior DiIvory Edgecomb after running just 56 times
for 190 yards and four touchdowns, but finishing fifth on the
team with 24 catches for 416 yards and four scores, averaging
17.3 yards per catch. He's a third down threat used more in
passing situations, and while he's not huge at 5-10 and 185
pounds, he's the team's best all-around back. Along with his
offensive duties, he's an elite kick returner averaging 24.1
yards per try.
While Rose is the main man at fullback, 5-10, 211-pound
sophomore David Muniz will get a few carries here and
there. He ran 13 times for 48 yards, and caught two passes for
20 yards. He's not big enough to be a huge blocker, but he's
Watch Out For ... more of the same. There's no reason
to mess with the formula. Pierre is the runner, Rose is the
blocker and receiver, and Edgecomb does a little of everything.
Everyone has their role.
Strength: Experience. Pierre, Rose and Edgecomb
have been involved in the offense for years. Any one of them can
carry the running game for a stretch, and they're all going to
Weakness: Consistent runs. Pierre averaged a
respectable 4.6 yards per carry, but overall, the Owls averaged
a miniscule 3.5 yards a crack. With all the attention on the
passing game, there's no reason the team should be under four
yards per carry.
Outlook: Running game, schmunning game. The Owls
are a passing team, and averaged a paltry 126 yards per game on
the ground, but that doesn't mean there isn't talent in the
backfield. Pierre and Edgecomb form a solid tandem that would
produce far bigger numbers if the running game was ever
featured, while Rose is a fantastic do-it-all fullback and a
Projected Starters: Junior Cortez Gent started out
slowly, but then returned after missing the Oklahoma State game
due to family issues and was a steady, dangerous target with
four 100-yard games in the final five regular season contests
finishing the year with 64 grabs for 1,082 yards and nine
touchdowns. While he's a rail-thin 6-2 and 170 pounds, he's
tough on the shorter routes and has the wheels to crank out big
plays averaging 16.9 yards per catch.
Working on the inside Z position, at least going into the fall,
will be 6-3, 195-pound junior Chris Bonner after
finishing fourth on the team with 25 catches for 420 yards and
three touchdowns, averaging 16.8 yards per catch. While he
worked well as a reserve, and could end up being a key backup
again, he has the talent to be a playmaker in a starting role in
Back at tight end is the ultra-athletic Jason Harmon at
tight end. At 6-3 and 210 pounds, he's more of a big wide
receiver, but he has the strength to be a good blocker. A
highlight-reel receiver who can make the acrobatic grab, the
senior was second on the team with 63 catches for 625 yards and
five touchdowns, averaging 13.1 yards per catch. He was a steady
rock throughout the year with one 100-yard game (five catches
for 104 yards vs. Minnesota), and he should be again if the knee
problem that plagued him this spring isn't an issue.
Projected Top Reserves: Is Frantz Simeon
back in the mix year? The team's best receiver two years ago,
he's a perfect inside receiving threat with next-level speed and
great hands. He just started to blow up once Rusty Smith took
over, and was supposed to be last year's star, but he didn't hit
the books and was ineligible for the year. If he's back, he'll
instantly become a major upgrade to an already strong receiving
Working behind Gent will be sophomore Lester Jean, one of
the stars of spring ball. The 6-3, 195-pound sophomore made 19
catches for 246 yards and a touchdown in a strong debut, and he
has the speed and the size to grow into a deadly target in
three-wide sets and as a deep threat.
6-1, 186-pound junior Conshario
Johnson could quickly find himself in a starting spot on the
inside. A good veteran who caught 17 passes for 163 yards and
two touchdowns, he has good speed and enough experience to play
a bigger role.
While Harmon is a Sun Belt all-star,
6-5, 210-pound junior Rob Housler is a good second
option. While he's nowhere near the talent Harmon is, Housler
caught five passes for 64 yards and is a good all-around option.
Watch Out For ... a rotation on the inside. Gent is a
sure-thing at the outside X position, and while Bonner is a good
option for the second slot, there will be a fight for playing
time when the Owls aren't in three-wide sets.
Strength: Experience. not even throwing Simeon
into the equation, and including the running backs, the top ten
pass catchers from last year return.
Weakness: There's only one football. There's no
real problem in this group other than that they're not top-shelf
downfield blockers. That's, of course, nitpicking. This is a
deep, fast, talented group that should lead the way to the Sun
Belt's most effective passing game.
Outlook: Last year the corps was a bit of a
question mark, but it was an extremely promising question mark.
This year it should be a juggernaut, and it could be unreal if
Simeon is ever able to get back in the equation. There's speed,
experience, options, and all-stars. Gent and Harmon would
provide the makings of a top-shelf receiving corps on their own,
but there are several other great options in the mix.
Projected Starters: The great line of last year only has one
major loss, all-star left guard Jarrid Smith, and now it'll likely be up
to 6-2, 310-pound sophomore Ryan Wischnefski to take over. The
former center provides some desperately needed bulk to the smallish
line, and eventually, for the hard yards, he could be the one the
offense runs behind.
Returning at left tackle is 6-3, 245-pound senior Brandon Jackson,
a tremendously athletic pass blocker who overcame injury problems
earlier in his career to be a steady 13-game starter. Tough enough to
handle himself at guard, he moved over to tackle and had a strong year.
6-1, 290-pound senior Nick Paris is a tough, smart interior
presence who's great at helping out in pass protection and has improved
in time. He got in better shape before last year and turned into a
strong leader after initially being used as a guard.
6-3, 300-pound John Rizzo
got bigger but still maintained his mobility. He was a second
team All-Sun Belt performer who's versatile enough to play
anywhere on the line, but has found a home at right tackle. The
senior is on the fast track for first team all-star honors and
he should be the anchor of the line. He's the strongest
Taking over at right guard will be junior Kevin Miller, a
versatile 6-3, 304-pound run blocker who can play either guard
spot. Able to play center if needed, he's ready to make the step
up from valuable backup to steady starter.
Projected Top Reserves: 6-2. 285-pound junior David Matlock
was a part-time center who started
three games in the middle in 2006, and then became a regular starter at
guard last years. He'll likely get a job back this fall, but
he'll have to work for it.
6-5, 270-pound senior Vinny Henderson is a big, physical
player who started out as a defensive lineman and now will work
behind Rizzo at right tackle. He saw work in ten games on the
offensive side last year, and while he still needs seasoning, he
should be ready if needed.
6-3, 250-pound sophomore Lavoris Williams saw plenty of
time as a backup and will be groomed for the 2009 starting left
tackle job. In the FAU mode of smallish, quick blockers, he's
great on the move.
Watch Out For ... Wischnefski. He might not be the
team's best blocker, but with his size and potential, he's due
to grow into a role somewhere on the line. He might have to
battle to hold on to the left guard job, but he'll find time
somewhere in the rotation.
Strength: Pass protection. It's not like Rusty
Smith is Vince Young on the move, yet the Owls allowed a paltry
16 sacks on the season. With the tackles back in place, expect
more of the same.
Weakness: Run blocking. While the line has gotten
bigger than past FAU front fives, it still didn't do too much to
provide a big push. This is a pass blocking unit, and a good
one, but it's not going to blast its way to many, if any,
200-yard running days.
Outlook: The line has improved by leaps and bounds
over the last few seasons, and while there's some work needing
to be done to secure the guard spots, this should be the Sun
Belt's best pass blocking line by a wide margin. For years, FAU
went with smaller, athletic lines. This year's line is big by
comparison, but it's still athletic.