Photo Credit: Julia Bonavita
Following a strong offensive season where the Florida Atlantic Owls averaged 36 points per game on offense, change is on the horizon in Boca Raton.
Lane Kiffin and Charlie Weis Jr.’s spread offense is gone, and in comes Willie Taggart’s Gulf Coast Offense under new offensive coordinators Drew Mehringer and Clint Trickett. Despite the staff changes, FAU returns starting quarterback Chris Robison, most of their rushing production, and three starting offensive linemen from last season.
The returning production, combined with significant additions in the off-season, means the excitement in FAU is palpable going into the start of Spring Camp (Mar. 23).
Players To Watch
TE John Raine
No tight end in the country has a tougher task than John Raine. After being granted an extra year of eligibility, Raine will be tasked with replacing last season’s John Mackey Award winner in Harrison Bryant, who is off to the NFL.
John Raine has limited work as a receiver, tallying just 56 receptions since 2016. Despite the limited receiving experience, Raine is a talented blocker and comes into the season with the most experience among offensive weapons, playing 42 games over four seasons.
Raine’s blocking ability, along with his experience, means that Raine will likely see an increased role in 2020.
OG Desmond Noel
A late transfer last season, Desmond Noel came in and made an immediate impact. Transferring to FAU after the regular season began, Noel played in 11 games. By the end of the season, he was a consistent starter for FAU. Noel’s play earned him a spot as an All-Conference honorable mention.
Although Noel played at guard last season, he could potentially move to center to replace Junior Diaz. With the losses of Diaz and left tackle Brandon Walton, Noel will be asked to lead an offensive line looking to replace the veterans.
RB BJ Emmons
Like fellow running backs Malcolm Davidson and Larry McCammon, Emmons’s impact in 2020 is dependent on how healthy he can stay during the season.
In 2019, Emmons suffered a broken ankle early in the Owls’ season opener against Ohio State and missed the majority of the season. Emmons returned late in the season and played in the Owls’ final four games. In those five games, the former Alabama running back finished with 237 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns.
WR Willie Wright
2019 was rough for Willie Wright, but when the wide receiver earned playing time, he took advantage. Wright finished the season with 186 receiving yards and two touchdowns, while primarily playing as the backup slot receiver.
In 2017, Wright burst onto the scene, scoring a 95-yard touchdown in his first collegiate game. Wright led the Owls in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns that season. In 2018, Wright struggled as defenses keyed on him. That November, Wright suffered a concussion.
With the departure of DeAngelo Antoine, the team’s starting slot receiver, Wright looks poised to take back the first-team slot receiver position .
TE Rahmod Smith
Rahmod Smith, the brother of former FAU linebacker Rashad, has limited experience. FAU’s need at tight end gives Smith the opportunity to earn a big role in 2020. In 2019, Smith played in just two games and redshirted.
At 6-feet-5-inches, Smith has the height to be a dominant factor in both in the red zone and the open field. Smith also has solid speed, as he ran track and played basketball in high school.
WR Brandon Robinson
Brandon Robinson started one game last season, but what a start he had. In FAU’s win over SMU in the Boca Bowl, Robinson caught five passes for 58 receiving yards and a 13-yard touchdown. Robinson finished the season with seven receptions for 122 yards and a touchdown. During the off-season, Robinson was awarded a full-ride scholarship. Robinson’s size and experience will help him compete for the opening left by Tavaris Harrison on the outside.
BACK-TO-BACK #FAU TOUCHDOWNS!!!
It took just one play following Rashad Smith's pick for the Owls to double their lead on the Mustangs. Chris Robison hits Brandon Robinson for the 13 yard TD pass.
👊👊 LFG 👊👊
28-14 FAU, :30 2Q pic.twitter.com/szzhoxtZS0
— FAU Owl's Nest (@FAU_Owls_Nest) December 21, 2019