You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

FAU Owls set to begin first spring football practice under Lane Kiffin


After months of waiting, FAU fans will finally get to see Lane Kiffin in action.

Hired as the team’s fifth head coach in December, Kiffin and the Owls will begin their spring practice Tuesday as they look to record their first winning season since 2008 — and their first non-losing season since 2013. Charlie Partridge is gone after going 9-27 in three years and Kiffin, whose most recent head coaching job was at USC, will be tasked to usher in a new era of FAU football after spending the past three seasons as offensive coordinator at Alabama.

*Kiffin gets chance at redemption

*Kiffin’s first recruiting class a good one

*New Owls coordinator linked to Baylor scandal

Here are five key questions facing the Owls entering camp.

Who’s the quarterback? Rising junior and incumbent starter Jason Driskel will face a challenge from newcomer De’Andre Johnson, who transferred from East Mississippi Community College after being dismissed from Florida State in 2015. Johnson is currently enrolled at FAU and taking classes in the spring semester (defensive back Qu’Ran Hafiz is in the same situation and is the only other member of the 2017 recruiting class to be at spring practice), so he will be able to participate in spring camp .

Sophomore Daniel Parr, a Dwyer product who was hailed as the future of the Owls under Partridge, will miss valuable reps as he recovers from foot surgery. Parr started last season’s 42-25 win at Rice, but it was Driskel who played the bulk of that game and started each of the team’s remaining three games. Barring something devastating, however, the quarterback job is Johnson’s to lose.

Who will be the leader on defense? With Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year Trey Hendrickson heading for the NFL, the defense is in need of new leadership. Linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, who led the Owls in tackles a year ago and was second to Hendrickson in tackles for loss, figures to be the best bet as he enters his junior season.

Al-Shaair will not be practicing this spring, however, as he returns from offseason shoulder surgery. Junior safety Jalen Young (Seminole Ridge) will look to build off a season where he had 100 tackles. While the Owls’ secondary struggled in 2016, Young was a key contributor on the field and on the sidelines with his teammates as a vocal leader.

Can the running game thrive again? American Heritage alum Devin Singletary enters spring practice in a competition with Gregory ‘Buddy’ Howell Jr. for the starting job. While Partridge originally intended to run a two-back system last season with Howell and Jay Warren, Howell took the majority of the snaps before Singletary came onto the scene and rushed for 874 yards on 7.7 yards per carry in the final six games. Singletary finished with 1,021 yards.

Kerrith Whyte (Seminole Ridge) will also receive snaps in the running game, but the competition is squarely between Howell and Singletary at the start of camp.

What about the other Kiffin? Chris Kiffin, the Owls’ new defensive coordinator, will most likely be bringing his and Lane’s famous father’s Tampa 2 scheme to Boca Raton. Many of last year’s key contributors not named Trey Hendrickson return — Al-Shaair, Young, Ocie Rose, Andrew Soroh, Haiden Nagel — but a name all FAU fans should watch for is defensive tackle William Davis. After Shalom Ogbonda’s graduation, a hole opens up on the defensive line and Davis, who had three tackles and a sack last year against Western Kentucky, should be a prime candidate to win that spot.

What will life with Lane be like? Rightfully, everyone wants to talk about Lane Kiffin and what he’ll be doing as the Owls’ head coach. Will he delegate day-to-day duties to his coordinators and assistants and be the CEO who oversees the whole program — on and off the field — like his ex-boss Nick Saban? Or will he be the Kiffin who while head coach at USC and Tennessee was said to be only interested in running the offense.

With that said, Kiffin should still have plenty of say — and have plenty of fun — playing around with the different offensive weapons he inherits from Partridge. It’s not unreasonable to think that several school records — most notably Alfred Morris’ 1,392 rushing yards in 2009 — could be shattered in the Kiffin era.

FAU’s first two spring practices, which are Tuesday and Thursday, will be open to the public. .



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

MLB's first Lithuanian learned the game where few play
MLB's first Lithuanian learned the game where few play

The decades-long journey of a father and a son, of a game and a country, ended with a sprint.  When Dovydas Neverauskas — fresh from the airport and wearing cleats and a glove bummed from his new Pittsburgh Pirates teammates — jogged onto the mound at PNC Park on April 24 to clean up what was left a lopsided loss to the Chicago Cubs...
Year after MMA fighter Parsons’ hit-and-run death, mom frozen by grief
Year after MMA fighter Parsons’ hit-and-run death, mom frozen by grief

Anna Marlen needed two paragraphs to describe what the past year has been like. If it’s painful to read them — and it is — it must have been that much more painful to write them. At least by letting her fingers do the work, it spared her from trying to speak the unspeakable. She begins by writing about the light in her son’s...
Erik Spoelstra ‘would love’ to have front-office role with Heat down the line
Erik Spoelstra ‘would love’ to have front-office role with Heat down the line

Micky Arison, Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, and President Pat Riley after beating the Oklahoma City Thunder in game five of the NBA Finals at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami in 2012.
How former pitcher turned love of racing into new career
How former pitcher turned love of racing into new career

C.J. Wilson might have walked away from baseball, but it is not really a retirement. The former Rangers pitcher has kept busy, managing his car dealership in Fresno, Calif., for 12 hours a day and also owning a racing team, C.J. Wilson Racing. But he is not just a stay-at-home owner. Wilson is actually out there on the tracks, racing himself in the...
Azarenka returns to tennis, and to her roots
Azarenka returns to tennis, and to her roots

The child care was done, if only for a moment, and Victoria Azarenka was back where it all began, leaning against the wall that had been her first tennis companion. “It was the best hitting partner, because it never misses, never complains,” Azarenka explained. The wall is in a small gymnasium in the Republic Olympic Training Center, a...
More Stories