Florida Atlantic Football Predictions
The Florida Atlantic Owls ended the 2009 season at 5-7, with all five wins coming in conference play, as the Owls finished tied for third in the Sun Belt at 5-3. This year the Owls have 11 starters back, but only two are back on offense. Here is a quick look at what the Owls will bring to the table on both sides of the ball, plus my prediction on where they finish they year in the Sun Belt Conference.
Offense: The Owls lose the school’s all-time leading passer Rusty Smith, and will turn to senior Jeff Van Camp, who actually started the final five games for the Owls in 2009, and really played well completing 59% of his passes for 1,372 yards with 12 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions.
Van Camp will have to find a few new faces to spread the ball around to, as the only starter back on the outside is senior wide out Lester Jean, who emerged as the top receiver towards the end of last year. Senior Avery Holley is expected to make his way into the starting lineup opposite of Jean, and the Owls are also very high on senior tight end Rob Housler, who has started eight games in his career, but was forced to sit out his senior season a year ago.
The Owls bring back the Sun Belt’s leading rusher in 2009, Alfredo Morris, who ran for 1,392 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first season as a starter. Morris could see him numbers drop this season, as he loses a very solid fullback in Willie Rose and the offense line is a bit of a concern for the Owls in 2010.
The Owls biggest question mark for the 2010 season is whether or not they can replace all five starters on the offensive line and still be a productive offense. There is no question that the Owls have the playmakers, but if the line struggles so will the running and passing game.
Defense: The Owls have nine starters back on the defensive side of the football in 2010, which should lead to some significant improvements this season. Up front the Owls bring back one of the top defensive ends in the conference in Kevin Cyrille, who racked up 3 sacks and a team best 8.5 tackles for loss in 2009. Also back is senior defensive tackle Dino Cox and junior defensive end Jamere Johnson.
The Owls bring back one of the top linebackers in the conference in senior middle linebacker Michael Lockley, who finished second on the team with 97 tackles a year ago. Fellow senior Malik Eugene returns on the weak-side, and it looks as though sophomore Alex Pattee is going to be the new starter on the strong-side.
The strongest unit for the defense appears to be the secondary, as all four starters return. This unit is led by the strong play of junior strong safety Marcus Bartels, who led the Owls with 112 tackles in 2009.
Prediction – 4th Sun Belt: A lot depends on the play of the offensive line, as the Owls could finish near the bottom or the top of the conference depending on the performance they get out of the five new starters. There are a ton of weapons on the offensive side of the ball and the defense should be much improved, which has me callling for the Owls to finish right in the middle of the Sun Belt in 2010.