Owls offense taking shape under new offensive coordinator

As the spring game draws near, players are adjusting to a new, faster offense.


Jason Driskel looks for an open receiver while scrambling out of the pocket against Western Kentucky University in a game last season. Max Jackson | Staff Photographer

Hans Belot Jr., Contributing Writer

With spring practice in full swing, new offensive coordinator Travis Trickett is not wasting any time getting his offense accustomed to real game situations — even if they are five months away from game one of the 2016 season.

Trickett has brought a faster paced, spread offense with him to FAU. That offense led Samford University to nearly 35 points per game last season.

“They are already on their own out there in practice,” said Trickett. “I’m no longer behind them so they have to figure it out. They can no longer turn around look to me to guide them. They have to figure it out on their own.”

With the starting quarterback job still up in the air, redshirt sophomore Jason Driskel and redshirt freshman Daniel Parr will likely compete against each other in the spring game on April 16, to make a case for why they should be the starter come September.

Driskel played 10 games for the Owls last season and completed 51 percent of his passes, along with three touchdown passes and four interceptions.

“I am just trying to get better at everything,” Driskel said. “We’re learning the new offense everyday and we are getting better every day and that is the biggest thing.”

Parr did not play last season after receiving a redshirt, but was highly touted coming out of high school, receiving offers from the University of Miami, Temple University, the University of Minnesota and Yale University. He led William T. Dwyer High School to a state championship his junior year, and ended his high school career with over 5,000 passing yards and 72 passing touchdowns.

“He is the ultimate competitor,” Trickett said of Parr. “Him and Driskel have been doing really well and they both have held each other to high standards. Teaching them how to manage letting the last play go and we go to the next one is a big part of it right now.”

The Owls will return six wide receivers who had at least one reception last season, but will have to make up for the loss of Jenson Stoshak. Stoshak led the team in catches (57) and receiving yards (820) last season.

Junior Kalib Woods played in 11 games last season, starting in 10 of them. He recorded the third most receiving yards and catches, and the second most receiving touchdowns.

Woods said he feels he can be the guy to step up as a target for whoever the quarterback is.

“I played well last year but I’m going to show this year how good I can be,” Woods said. “I feel like I can improve [those numbers] 100 percent.”

Woods also believes he can be a leader to his teammates on the field.

“Sometimes you got to lead by example,” he continued. “If I feel like I need to say something I will, other than that, it’s just about my actions.”

FAU will also return four running backs who had at least one carry in 2015. Carries will be split again next season, but the fight for the starting job will still be a competitive one. Junior Greg “Buddy” Howell and senior Jay Warren were the team’s leading rushers last season, with 608 and 507 yards respectively. Sophomore Trey Rodriguez was third in rushing yards with 426 in just six games, but led the team in rushing yards per game and yards per rush.

“I’m getting more in shape and also getting physically and mentally stronger,” said Howell. “Just stepping up to be a leader and doing what I got to do.”

Trickett was hired last December to replace Brian Wright, who was at FAU since 2012. Trickett spent the past four years at Samford; he spent three of those years as the offensive coordinator.

He has worked with current Buffalo Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel and former Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder, both while he was a quarterback coach at Florida State University under head coach Jimbo Fisher.

“I got to work with E.J. and Ponder and those guys but as a graduate assistant, I mostly watched Jimbo work with those guys,” said coach Trickett. “But what Stamford prepared me for is usually you have a lesser talented guy at the FCS level compared to the FBS level, so fundamentally you have to be really good and execution needs to be higher. So we just want to make sure these guys stay consistent.”

His new offense will be displayed for the first time in this year’s spring game, which is set for April 16 at 1 p.m. 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.