This season is lost. North Texas is bad at football and well, they absolutely owned FAU on Saturday night. There was a time in Owl history that seeing UNT on the schedule meant an automatic conference win. Those days are clearly behind us. There will be no bowl game for FAU this season. But unlike last season, and the season before that, there is still hope for Charlie Partridge and this team.
Jaquez Johnson Is Still A Good Quarterback
Jaquez finally threw his third interception of the season against North Texas. It was the first time this year that Johnson used a glove on his throwing hand and while he will most likely deny that this had anything to do with the pick, his throws were off the mark all night long. But one game does not define a season. Quez has already thrown for 1,778 yards and 15 touchdowns this season with two games left on the schedule. Last year he finished with 1,866 yards, 12 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. The improvement in the passing game is finally tangible and although the record does not display the same, it is extremely encouraging to see Johnson continue to grow as a quarterback.
The Freshmen Have Been Delightful
Greg Howell stole the starting running back spot before he went down with an injury. Reginald Bain and Joseph Gold planted their flags on the offensive line before the season started. Kalib Woods passed former number one option William Dukes on the depth chart. These freshmen - along with Henry Bussey's re-emergence and Jerrad Ward proving that he should be on scholarship - are essential to the future of this program. While I expect a few gaps to be filled in next season with JUCO recruits, you have to be excited at the thought of having some of Partridge's recruits in Boca for four years. Oh, and numbers on the board.
FAU Has Started To Figure This Whole Schedule Thing Out
Ask any Florida Atlantic supporter about who they want to see play against the Owls and the answer will most likely be another team in the state of Florida. Fortunately for FAU fans, that's just what they'll get next season with a road game against the University of Florida - in what could be the first season of a new head coach - and a home game against the University of Miami. Add in a game at Tulsa and one against Buffalo - another team looking for a new head coach - at home and you've got a nifty little schedule set to please the South Florida fan. Also, if the C-USA scheduling follows this season's pattern, Marshall, MTSU and FIU all travel to Boca Raton. That's six home games on the calendar and a more manageable road schedule for 2015.
It Was Never About The First Year
The initial analysis of the Charlie Partridge hire showed an ace recruiter, but an unproven head coach. For a small-time program like FAU, this never struck me as alarming. A team like the Owls should be able to allow their coaches to implement their plans and with Partridge, that has a heavy emphasis on building through high school recruiting. I'm curious to see how Coach P continues to sell recruits with a poor record, but if he can still bring home a top 3 class in the conference, I'll be satisfied.
So yes, in short, FAU's season is "done". But there are two more games left - including one in Boca Raton - that should give Owl fans an even deeper look at their team. Charlie Partridge has already shown that he can make second half adjustments (honestly, this is the most surprising aspect of the entire season), so I'm anxious to see what he has in store now that the most important mission for the season is relinquished. Regardless of what happens, it is still way too early to call the Partridge era a failure. There were always going to be growing pains and it just so happens that they showed up a little earlier than anticipated. I still have faith in Coach P that he can bring FAU back to bowl games and conference championships. It just may take a little while.