After blowout loss, FAU looks to even record in Lane Tiffin's second game
Florida Atlantic head coach Lane Kiffin has a knack for being the center of attention. Whether he’s coaching in the NCAA or the NFL, in the south or out west, as a head coach or as an assistant, controversy and national headlines seem to follow the 42-year-old like his very own shadow.
So it’s no surprise that the majority of the attention directed towards a Florida Atlantic program that’s attempting to recover from three straight 3-9 seasons has centered around the accomplished but erratic head coach since he left his job as offensive coordinator for Alabama the week before the national title game.
Kiffin has worked hard to make the roster his own, installing his son Chris as defensive coordinator and adding 12 transfers from junior college and FBS programs, but for now he’ll primarily be looking to make the best of the remnants of a squad that finished sixth in Conference USA’s eastern division last season.
On offense, that means featuring sophomore running back Devin Singletary, who rushed for 1021 yards on only 152 carries as a true freshman in 2016. Singletary was held to just 26 yards on six carries against Navy as FAU trailed for most of the game, but a return to the late-season form that saw him score ten touchdowns in the final four games of the season would be a huge boost for the Owls in Madison.
Singletary appears to be safe as the starting tailback, but the status of the men handing the ball to him is much less clear. Redshirt junior Jason Driskell started 11 games last season, and entered spring camp in competition for the starting job with junior college transfer De’Andre Johnson. Yet when the Owls took the field against Navy last Friday, it was redshirt sophomore Daniel Parr, Driskell’s former backup, who had won the starting spot.
Parr played serviceably, completing 19 of his 30 passes for 281 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, but his status as the starter was undermined by the appearance of Johnson late in the fourth quarter. Kiffin later muddied the waters further by telling reporters at the post-game press conference that he would’ve brought in Driskell for a series had the Owls recovered the ball. Parr still appears to be the go-to starter, but whoever starts the game under center for FAU in Camp Randall will be playing with their job on the line.
The same will be true of almost the entire Owls defense, which appears to be engaged in a team-wide audition for playing time under the new coaching regime. FAU struggled on the defensive side of the ball last season, allowing a conference-worst 39.8 points per game, and the younger Kiffin will need to cut that number to have any shot at a bounce-back season in Boca Raton.
Kiffin is no stranger to big games from his time at Southern California and Alabama, and he should have the Owls mentally prepared to play in front of a sellout crowd at Camp Randall, but with most of his reinforcements yet to become eligible, the Owls will likely struggle to match Wisconsin’s talent level on both sides of the ball.Subscribe to The Daily Cardinal Newsletter