Football: four questions heading into Saturday’s annual spring game

New offensive coordinator Travis Trickett’s offense will be on display in game situations for the first time.


Junior Adrian Sterling’s helmet is knocked off after he was tackled by Richard Thompson (26) during last year’s spring game. Mohammed F. Emran | Staff Photographer

Hans Belot Jr., Contributing Writer

The seniors are gone and the freshmen have yet to arrive, but for the current Florida Atlantic football players it’s time for the 2016 spring game — and a chance prove why they deserve to be on the field come September.

A lot questions remain unanswered but the spring game will provide fans and coaches a first glance at the 2016 team. With a new offensive coordinator, a fresh quarterback battle and an improved defensive unit, here are four question to keep in mind during Saturday’s game:

Jason Driskel vs. Daniel Parr: Who will get the nod at quarterback?

These two quarterbacks are likely to be pitted against one another on Saturday, where each will try to impress head coach Charlie Partridge to make their respective case as to why they should start this upcoming season.

Driskel shared the spotlight last season along with Jaquez Johnson, starting two of the 10 games he played in. Driskel threw for 965 yards and three touchdowns against four interceptions. In his debut last year, he was inserted into the game after Johnson left with an injury and finished with 155 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Parr was redshirted last year after a high school career in which he led William T. Dwyer High School to a state championship in his junior year. He ended his high school career with over 5,000 passing yards and 72 passing touchdowns, while rushing for another 12.

It’ll be interesting to see these two going against each other in the spring game, and while it may not be a do-or-die game for either quarterback, it will leave a big impression on the coaches.

Who will stand out at the running back position?

Last season, most of the carries were handed to junior Greg “Buddy” Howell, who finished with 598 yards on 133 carries. However, sophomore Trey Rodriguez had 419 yards on just 70 carries, averaging 69.9 yards per game compared to and 49.8 yards per game for Howell.

Senior Jay Warren, who was second in the team in total rushing yards (449), will also be making a case for himself.

Although Rodriguez missed half of last season for various reasons — and will also miss the spring game with an injury.

The running game will be an important one in the new system in which Trickett is trying to implement as his Samford University team rushed for 148.6 yards per game in 2015. Therefore, it may not be shocking to see several running backs get an equal amount of carry throughout the season.

Can the young defensive backs build on last season’s success?

With the departure of players such as Cre’von LeBlanc and Sharrod Neasman in the secondary unit, the Owls have left the building blocks for the current squad to build upon.

Of the defensive backs listed on the spring roster, 16 of the 27 are freshmen and sophomores, including five of them who recorded at least one tackle a season ago.

As a freshman last season, linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair led the team in tackles with 94, including 50 solo, and earned a spot on USA Today’s All-Freshman Team.

Current freshmen Ocie Rose and Jalen Young were tied for second in the team for interceptions last season, with three each. Both were named to Conference USA’s All-Freshman Team.

Those three could become cornerstones for Partridge, but this year’s spring game will show whether or not they’ve taken the next step toward that role.

How will the offense change this upcoming season?

The offense has been using all of its allowed time during spring practices to adapt to Trickett’s new fast-paced offense.

Trickett is coming over from a Samford team which averaged 34.6 points and 486 total yards per game a season ago. He’ll be taking over an offense which ranked 10th in Conference USA last season with 22.5 points per game.

He used a two-quarterback system in 2015. The duo passed for 22 scores and 3,662 yards, utilizing 15 different receivers. Trickett may keep the two-quarterback system with his current quarterbacks, like the Owls did last year with Johnson and Driskel.

Not every question will be answered at the spring game, but fans and family will get a chance to see the squad going at each other for a glimpse of what’s to come in the fall.

The spring game is set for Saturday, April 16, at 1 p.m. and will be played at FAU Stadium.

Hans Belot Jr. is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him at @Don_Phenom_.