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Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


FAU Football: Herman, Owls hopeful after first practice of fall training camp

On Thursday morning, head coach Tom Herman and the FAU Owls reported for the first practice of fall training camp.
Nicholas Windfelder
Head coach Tom Herman, pictured on the left, speaking at FAU’s National Signing Day celebration on Feb. 1, 2023.

Football is back in Boca Raton as the FAU Owls took the field for their first day of fall training camp, but after his first practice as head coach at FAU, Tom Herman assured the media “that’s not football.” 

As a former head coach at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Houston, Herman brings with him six years of head coaching experience. And though he said his most glaring takeaway was a lack of energy towards the end of practice, that experience has taught him not to overreact to a single practice in helmets only.

“We started practice really sharp, crisp, and then the sun came out and started getting a little more humid, and we got tired. And in my opinion, we let what we call the little demon in your head, human nature if you will, beat us today towards the end of practice,” said Herman. “Am I concerned about what we do in the summertime? No, I’m not. This is fairly par for the course for a first practice. The only way to get in shape to play football is by playing football.”

While they can’t replicate the intensity of a full contract practice until they get in shoulder pads on Saturday, Herman listed several things he can gauge players on while they’re still in shorts. 

“I don’t know why we do that, because it isn’t football. But can you glean some things? Yeah. Effort, assignment, stance,” said Herman. “You can see wide receivers get out in the open and run routes, and how DBs cover them, I think that’s something you can evaluate. Without pads you can evaluate the rhythm and eyes of a quarterback. The techniques in the defensive backfield, are they in the right spot? Are they pedaling at the right tempo? There are things like that that you can evaluate.”

Herman spent much of Thursday’s practice with the defense and new defensive coordinator Roc Bellantoni, who’s looking to improve an Owls’ defense that ranked in the bottom half of Conference USA in passing defense and yards allowed per game

“We did alright, we got to get a lot better,” said junior defensive tackle Evan Anderson of the defense. “A lot of guys didn’t do the spring with Coach Roc [Bellantoni] so a lot of them have to get used to how he coach and teach and the standard of the defense.” 

After leading the team in tackles for loss as a freshman in 2021, Anderson still made his presence felt on the defensive line last season despite being sidelined for five games with a foot injury. His 27 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and one sack earned him Second Team All-C-USA honors.

Another returner who earned all-conference honors for the Owls’ last season is junior wide receiver Lajohntay Wester, who said he’s trying to develop into his role as a leader in the locker room, while continuing to be the catalyst for the offense he’s been for the past two seasons on the field.

“Just being more of a vocal leader,” said Wester on how he’s approaching training camp. “Helping the younger guys in my position handle their assignments and things like that; And just improve my game.”

Wester has been the Owls’ leading receiver for the past two years and finished last season with 62 catches for 719 yards and eight touchdowns. 

Thursday’s practice was Wester’s first with graduate quarterback Casey Thompson, an offseason addition from the University of Nebraska who’ll spend fall camp battling with junior Daniel Richardson and redshirt sophomore Tyriq Starks for the starting job.

“I thought they all had their moments good and bad today. Again, it’s hard to pass block without pads on so sometimes there’s a bit more pressure than there normally is, but I thought Casey did good for practice one. He wasn’t perfect by any stretch, he’s got things to improve on, but we’re headed in the right direction in that room,” said Herman.

Thompson’s 2,113-yard, 24-touchdown junior season under Herman at the University of Texas in 2021 has many gushing over what the two could do now reunited at FAU—but Herman assured the media that a starter won’t be named until much deeper into camp.

“I think about 10 days out is the right number from game one,” said Herman on when he plans to name a starter. “If it unfolds sooner than that, great. But I think the guy that you’re going into game one with should get a majority of the reps for at least a week, if not a couple days beyond that. So I would think that somewhere around 10 days out from game one would be logical.”

Cameron Priester is the Editor-at-large for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @PriesterCameron

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Cameron Priester
Cameron Priester, Editor-at-Large
Cameron Priester is an Editor-at-Large for the University Press. Having served as Sports Editor for the 2022-23 academic year, he is a multimedia journalism major and intends on pursuing a career in sports journalism. He can be found on Twitter @PriesterCameron and you can email him at [email protected].
Nicholas Windfelder
Nicholas Windfelder, Lead Photographer
Nicholas Windfelder is the lead photographer for University Press. He began his work in the spring of 2022 and became lead photographer in the following fall semester. While being a mechanical engineering major, his greatest hobby is photography and hopes to build himself as a photographer as well. You can contact him via Instagram or email. View Nick's work below, on Instagram, or his online portfolio. Disclaimer: Unauthorized reproduction, sale, or modifications of the images below, or within the associated articles, galleries, or links, are strictly prohibited. All images are copyright protected. For requested use of the images below, please contact Nicholas Windfelder via email or message @UPressOnline on Instagram.

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