The biggest question for the Florida Atlantic Owls to answer coming into the 2016-17 season is who will be leading a new look offense onto the field at quarterback. Without the services of a graduating Jaquez Johnson, head coach Charlie Partridge and new offensive coordinator Travis Trickett have a blank slate for which they can develop their offense.
Having three potential suitors for the position, a good fall and spring camp could make or break each's chance for the job. With the spring game coming up on April 16, I make the case for each of the players vying for the starting position.
The case for: Jason Driskel
Coming into the battle as the most experienced of the trio, the then-redshirt freshman was given the reigns of the offense after Johnson was injured early in the Owls' game versus the Miami Hurricanes. Despite having never taken a snap in college, Driskel led the team on two straight touchdown drives and had his team tied with the Hurricanes at 20 going into halftime.
After the half though, we saw the negative side of Driskel's play. Overthrowing his receivers at times and taking unnecessary risks on passing attempts, Driskel threw two interceptions while his offense failed to put another point on the board.
Driskel's performance during that Miami game is a good barometer of how his season went. At times, he showed flashes of great potential with the plays he could make with both his feet and his throws. At other times his inexperience showed, leading to him getting sacked, making turnovers and missing offensive opportunities.
Now with a year under his belt, Driskel can secure his position at the top by showing Partridge he has become more consistent with his play. Proving that he can avoid making the mistakes that hurt his play as a freshman should be his main priority coming into this year.
The case for: Daniel Parr
Parr enters the spring season a year after he made his debut during the 2015 spring game as an early enrollee. Ranked as the 46th best quarterback in the class of 2015 by 247sports.com, Parr showed off a wide array of skills that had both coaches and fans thinking big things for the Dwyer high grad.
Even with his performance, Partridge redshirted Parr to save his eligibility to make sure he could develop and adjust for the college game. Midway through his redshirt season, there were talks of bringing Parr in to replace Johnson instead of Driskel, but nothing ever came of the rumors.
Being less experienced than Driskel may be the biggest knock against the redshirt freshman, but that hasn't stopped Partridge in the past from putting faith in rookies. If Parr can have a breakout season like many of the freshman players on defense, it may pay dividends for the Owls in the future.
To take the job, Parr needs a great spring camp to keep himself in the position to start. Having a spring game like the one he had last season would go a long way to getting him more snaps than Driskel.
The case for: Stephen Frank
As the dark horse of the trio, Frank was a major part of the Owls' 2016 recruiting class. Ranked as the number one quarterback in Illinois for this recruiting year by Scout.com, the native of Oswego, Illinois has future starter written all over him.
With two capable starters in front of him, Partridge may just redshirt Frank to save his eligibility for when he would be able to better use it.
Unless injuries or other unforeseen problems arise for FAU, it's tough to see Frank taking the job from either Driskel or Parr even with a great fall camp. But with the type of situation the Owls had at the position last year, seeing the freshman take the field at some point of the season is far from impossible.
So who will win the job?
The Owls have the best type of problem coming into next year. They have youth and depth at a position of need, a situation you don't just stumble into as a coach that often.
All indications point to it being a fight between Parr and Driskel, and it won't be a contest that's easily solved. Expect both to get reps at the position well into the season until one of them sticks, much like how Driskel received chances even while Johnson was healthy.
I expect Driskel to earn the job out of camp, but Parr still has an opportunity to take back the job mid-season in case of an injury or lack of offensive performance. If the Owls figure out how to avoid the turnovers that stifled their offense last year, they may be dangerous no matter who's at the helm.