By: David Dipino Contributing Writer
“Winning in Paradise” with a palm tree as the “I” in paradise was the motto last year for Florida Atlantic University’s (FAU) Football program, which finished second from last in the Conference USA standings with a 5 wins and 7 losses overall record (3-5 in conf.), thus making the 2018 season a disappointment compared to the 2017 campaign which ended with a bowl game win.
The motto hasn’t changed as FAU head coach Lane Kiffin leads the Owls for the third straight season with a 16-10 overall record at FAU (11-3 in Conference USA play) and 51-31 overall as he enters his eighth season coaching college football.
This summer, Coach Kiffin, his staff and players have focused on building a better defense, competition at quarterback and filling a major void at running back. The Owls offensive game plan also calls for strengthening the wide receiver corps.
Overall, FAU has potential to compete for their second Conference USA Championship in three years. Some Conference USA media members are optimistic with FAU as the Owls received three pre-season votes to win the conference in a pre-season poll. But, in the same poll rival the Florida International University (FIU) Golden Panthers received nine first place votes and the favorite in Conference USA’s East Division, the Marshall University Thunderin’ Herd received 14 first place votes. In conference USA’s West Division, the University of North Texas Mean Green received 20 first place votes. The Owls don’t play North Texas during the regular season and FAU hosts both FIU, in the annual Shula Bowl, and Marshall as home games at FAU Stadium’s Howard Schnellengberger field.
Coach Kiffin will make a decision on the starting quarterback before the Ohio State game as the competition is heating up between Chris Robison, last season’s starting quarterback and sophomore Nick Tronti, a redshirt sophomore at FAU is competing against Robison. A week into FAU’s training camp, Coach Kiffin started to see the gears in his offense come together.
“I thought today, probably for the first day this year, felt (that) the offense looked really good throughout the day in all phases, running the ball, throwing and catching. I don’t know why that is. We didn’t all of a sudden become a different team, but I really felt like we weren’t moving the ball great throughout camp. Like I said struggling against a good front seven and a tough scheme, for whatever reason, today, our guys played really well,” Coach Kiffin said during a news conference with local media.
On defense, the focus is on Da’Von Brown, a senior safety for FAU from Belle Glade, who’s shined in the pre-season camp with a key interception in the end zone during the team’s first scrimmage at FAU Stadium in August.
“Defense did create some turnovers. For the most part, stopped the run pretty well,” Coach Kiffin told the media during the news conference at the scrimmage.
“I think we started off a little bit slow. I think we had a couple of false starts and a couple of pass interferences. After a while, we started to get back into our groove of the game. We really preached about touching the ball and getting the ball out before the scrimmage. That is what we did today,” Brown told media at the news conference.
For the Owls schedule, visit https://fausports.com/schedule