New FAU head coach Lane Kiffin signed the best recruiting class in Conference USA, bringing in a conference-high 17 three-star prospects. We will take a look at the new roster and do a position-by-position breakdown of what the roster looks like going into Spring camp.
Returning contributors: Antonyo Woods (SR), Left tackle who started 11 games. Jakobi Smith (SR), Right guard who started eight games. Roman Fernandez (SR), Left guard who started 10 games. Reggie Bain (SR) zero starts in 2016 but has 24 career starts. Matthew Weiner (JR), Right tackle who started eight games. Tarrick Thomas (SO), Left guard who started four games. Bryan Beck (SO), Left tackle who started three games. Jack Breshears (SO), Right guard who started one game.
Incoming recruits: Joey Palmer (JUCO 3 Star)
What we know: Offensive line coach Garin Justice had a unit that was ravaged by injuries in 2016 and enters 2017 with a wealth of experience.
Should left tackle Reggie Bain come back to the team completely healthy after suffering a scary motor scooter accident, the Owls will have eight offensive linemen on the roster who have started at least one game.
Despite horrible injury luck in 2016 the offensive line was still able to pave the way for two 800-yard running backs. Not only that but the Owls finished second in Conference USA in rushing touchdowns (31), and third in rushing yards per game (188.2).
This was an extremely productive unit on the ground despite the lack of continuity between their starting lineup. These guys could be downright scary in 2017 if a majority of the linemen stay healthy.
Despite an incosistent passing offense the line did a pretty solid job protecting Driskel. They ranked 43rd in Passing Downs Sack Rate and 69th in Adjusted Sack Rate in 2016.
Given the experience and depth along the line it’s anyone’s guess as to who will start in the trenches. The addition of Joey Palmer, a 6-5, 305 pound lineman from Butler Community College only seems to muddy the picture. But these are good problems to have for a team that had to deal with a ton of bad news with this unit last year.
Final thought: I don’t think it’s a stretch to say this offensive line could be the best in school history. Towards the end of last season this unit was humming. If the transition to Kiffin goes smoothly this will be the best unit in C-USA.
Position grade: B+. If Kiffin decides to make this a run-friendly offense the Owls could smash a few records on the ground this season behind these guys.