Preview 2009 - Defense
2008 CFN Florida
2008 FAU Offense
2008 FAU Defense
2008 FAU Depth
2008 FAU Preview
2007 FAU Preview
What you need to know: Last year’s defense was loaded with veterans and did precisely squat until a
good Motor City Bowl. Now there are some major changes being made with three new
starters at linebacker, a new strong safety in place of Greg Joseph, and some
replacements coming on the front four. There’s been no pass rush over the last
few years, and there still won’t be one, and the run defense will be mediocre.
On the plus side, the potential is there for a good year from the secondary with
three good veterans returning led by corner Tavious Polo, who was never quite
right throughout last year. The key overall will be the push into the backfield
after finishing 112th in the nation in sacks and 110th in
tackles for loss. A steady pass rusher will have to emerge.
Tackles: Ed Alexander, 42
Jervonte Jackson, 1.5
Interceptions: Ed Alexander, 3
Star of the defense:
Junior FS Ed Alexander
Player who has to step up and become a star:
Senior DE Jermaine Council
Unsung star on the rise: Junior LB Michael Lockley
Best pro prospect: Junior CB Tavious Polo
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Alexander, 2) Polo, 3) DT Josh Savidge
Strength of the defense: Corners, Joseph
Weakness of the defense: Pass rush, plays in the backfield
The pass rush was non-existent last season, and
Jermaine Council isn’t going to
change that. He made four tackles in just four games of work before getting hurt
and knocked out for the year. The 6-5, 275-pound senior is more of a defensive
tackle than a true end, and while he’s not a pass rusher, he’s a good presence
against the run. He can also be moved inside if needed, but in a perfect world
he’d be a 3-4 end.
Back on the other side is Jamere Johnson
after spending last year as the key reserve on the left side. He only made
11 tackles last season and recovered a fumble, but he needs to get to the
quarterback. At 6-4 and 220 pounds, if the sophomore isn’t getting into the
backfield on a regular basis.
Returning to his starting right tackle spot is senior
Josh Savidge, a productive veteran
who bounced back from a knee injury that prematurely ended his 2007 season with
a 28 tackle season with five tackles for loss. At 6-2 and 280 pounds, and four
years of experience, he’s a big, active defender who’ll be one of the keys to
6-3, 300-pound sophomore Jarvis Givins
only made seven tackles in his six appearances, but he was a difference
maker with 1.5 tackles for loss, three fumble recoveries and a forced fumble in
his time. He’ll be the main man at left tackle taking over for Jervonte Jackson,
and while he replaces Jackson’s size, he has to prove he can be the same sort of
Projected Top Reserves: 6-3, 230-pound true freshman
Cory Henry will be a starter sooner
than later. The big-time pass rushing prospect had chances to go play in the Big
East or Conference USA, but now he’ll be a key cog early on in a rotation at one
of the end spots after making 14 sacks for Carol City High in Miami last year.
Playing behind Josh Savidge at right tackle will be junior Dino Cox, a
promising interior pass rusher who can play end if needed. Only 6-3 and 240
pounds, he’s way too light to be a regular tackle and now he has to start
producing after only making six tackles and no sacks last year.
Watch Out For ... Savidge to shine. He was healthy last year after
suffering a knee injury a few years ago, but he wasn’t quite right. This year,
with more than enough time to heal up, he should be an all-star if he can get to
Strength: Tackle size … at least among the starters. This hasn’t always
been a sure-thing for the constantly undersized Owls over the years but now
there’s decent beef on the inside in Givens and Savidge. However, size quickly
diminishes when it comes to the reserves.
Weakness: Pass rushing. FAU has never been able to get to the
quarterback despite always having a slew of undersized athletes up front. FAU
made a pathetic 13 sacks and was 110th in the nation in tackles for
Outlook: The line was a disaster throughout last year with no pass
rush, no push into the backfield, and little done against the run on a
consistent basis. This year’s front four isn’t going to be a whole bunch better
and it’ll be a nightmare if injuries strike the starters. Josh Savidge is a good
tackle to build around, but a pass rusher has to emerge on the outside.
Who can possibly replace Frantz Joseph, the all-star in the middle who made 154
tackles last year? 6-2, 220-pound junior
Michael Lockley will give it a shot after serving as an understudy. There
wasn’t much time to get on the field playing behind Joseph, so Lockley did most
of his work on special teams finishing with 11 tackles. He’s a promising
all-around prospect who can move.
Replacing Andre Clark on the strongside will be
Malik Eugene, a 6-3, 235-pound
junior who made six tackles and a tackle for loss. Mostly a special teamer so
far, he’s a strong athlete with good pass rushing potential. He could be used to
manufacture pressure into the backfield from time to time.
Senior Edward Bradwell might be
undersized at 6-1 and 200 pounds, playing more like a safety than a linebacker,
but he can move. He’s been a solid reserve over the last few years with 41 stops
last season to go along with a sack and three tackles for loss, highlighted by a
12-stop game against Troy, but he hasn’t done enough against the pass from the
Projected Top Reserves: Several bigger name programs were
interested in Toney Moore, but FAU
got him. The 6-1, 210-pound freshman from West Palm Beach does a little of
everything well with good open field tackling ability and solid production in
pass coverage. He’s a natural weakside defender at the collegiate level, but he
can see time at any of the three spots.
Redshirt freshman Yourhighness Morgan
doesn’t just have the best name in college football, he can play a little
bit, too. The 6-3, 225-pounder is a tackling machine who should quickly find his
place in the rotation on the strongside. He’s a speedster who should be all over
Watch Out For ... Lockley in the middle. He’s not going to be
Frantz Joseph, but he should be a 100-tackle player just by being the main man
on the inside.
Strength: Speed. The Owls use safety-sized linebackers and they
can all fly to the ball. Bradwell should shine with more responsibility.
Weakness: Proven production. The Owls lose everything with Joseph,
Andre Clark and George Allen gone. These three were the rocks for a defense that
got nothing out of the defensive line. It’ll be hard to quickly replace them.
Outlook: This could be the team’s biggest question mark with a few
unproven special teamers needing to play very big roles. Malik Eugene and
Michael Lockley have potential, but it’ll be Edward Bradwell who should be the
new star of the front seven. The starters are question marks, much less the
Junior Tavious Polo couldn’t build
on his tremendous 53-tackle, seven interception freshman season with 35 tackles
and just one pick in a back up role. While he’s only 175 pounds on a 5-11 frame,
that’s bulked up for him after starting out his career at around 155. His seven
picks in 2007 came in the first five games and then his production fell off over
the last year and a half. He has the speed and he has the talent to be a
ball-hawking shut down corner, but he has to prove the start of his career
wasn’t a fluke.
The star of the secondary should be junior
Ed Alexander at free safety. The
6-1, 172-pounder stepped in for Taheem Acevedo and made 42 tackles and picked
off three passes. With good speed and decent athleticism, he's been a key
special teamer and he proved he could be a steady pass defender. Now with Greg
Joseph gone, Alexander has to do even more when the ball Is in the air.
Back at a starting corner spot is
Tarvoris Hill after making 41 tackles. The 6-0, 170-pound junior was a good
nickel back in the start of his career and he turned into a decent all-around
defender on the right side last season, but he only made one interception and
broke up three passes.
The team’s second-leading tackler, Greg Joseph, is gone at strong safety, and in
comes Austen Jensen, a star special
teamer who made 24 tackles. The 6-1, 190-pound senior will put up big numbers
and should be among the team’s leading tacklers, but he also needs to be a bear
against the pass to replace Joseph’s ten broken up passes.
Projected Top Reserves: Back after missing all of 2007 with
academic issues was 6-0, 180-pound senior Erick McIntosh, but he only
made 11 tackles with two broken up passes. One of the team’s most talented
all-around defensive backs, he hasn’t been able to put it all together even
though he’s tough enough to play either safety position and fast enough to be a
key corner. He’ll play behind Tavoris Hill.
6-1, 185-pound junior Rod Huggins
stepped in and saw some time at safety making nine tackles in his limited
action. The former star high school running back has great speed and he could be
a nice fifth defensive back in the mix if given more of a chance. He’ll start
out working behind Austen Jensen.
Watch Out For ... Jensen to be one of the team’s top five
tacklers. He might not be Greg Joseph, but he has the experience and has done
enough both as a backup defender and a special teamer to show he can play.
Strength: Corners. Tavious and Tavoris should be one of the Sun
Belt’s better corner tandems. Polo has to prove he can regain his all-star form,
while Hill has to start making more plays. However, they should be good.
Weakness: Production. Even with all the tackles and all the good
things done by last year’s veteran secondary, FAU still got bombed on by the
decent passers and picked apart by anyone with any efficiency.
Outlook: With no pass rush whatsoever, there’s more pressure on
the FAU secondary than there should be. The corners should be solid with Tavious
Polo and Tavoris Hill two promising playmakers, while Ed Alexander and Austen
Jensen should have good years at safety. However, this group will give up yards
and will have a hard time with any quarterback with any semblance of passing
Replacing Warley Leroy, who hit 10-of-13 field goals last year and 29-of-40 over
the last few years, but he had no range whatsoever. Junior
Ross Gornall hit his one 36-yard
attempt and should be solid from close range.
Senior Keegan Peterson won the punting job outright last year and put 20
kicks inside the 20 and forced 14 fair catches. While he only averaged 38.3
yards per kick, he has the ability to bomb it from time to time.
Now he needs more help from his punt coverage team.
Corner Tavious Polo is a decent punt
returner who averaged 9.5 yards per try. He has the quickness and speed to do
far more. A kickoff returner will need to be found to replace the solid, but
unspectacular DiIvory Edgecomb. Starting tailback
Jeff Blanchard averaged 19.5 yards
per try and will get the first look.
Watch Out For ... Ross Gornall to be fine. Leroy was fantastic
from 40 yards and in, but he had absolutely no range. Gomall will hit a 40+
yarder this year.
Strength: Kickoff coverage and Polo’s potential. Polo should be
doing more than averaging 9.5 yards per punt return, while the kickoff coverage
team allowed a meager 18 yards per try.
Weakness: Almost everything. There needs to be a better net
punting average, the placekicking game needs more range, and more pop is needed
in the return game. Other than that, everything’s fine.
Outlook: To call the special teams a disaster last season is a bit
much, but there wasn’t nearly enough overall production from any spot. Losing PK
Warley Leroy will hurt a little bit, but Ross Gornall will be fine. There needs
to be more from just about every area and there needs to be far more from the
return game. Special teams could cost FAU at least one game.