BOCA RATON — Make no mistake, Jaquez Johnson is FAU's starting quarterback heading into Saturday's home opener against Middle Tennessee State, but that doesn't mean coaches aren't looking for a significant improvement from the junior college transfer.
Johnson passed for only 98 yards in FAU's win over USF last Saturday, and while the performance was enough to ensure he kept his starting job, it didn't impress offensive coordinator Brian Wright.
"He made some mistakes that the has to be much better at," Wright said. "He knows he has to get better."
In evaluating the tape from Saturday's win, Wright said he spotted breakdowns on 19 of FAU's 59 offensive plays. That was an improvement from previous weeks, but it remains a ratio that doesn't beget sustainable winning.
"We played bad offensive football," Wright said. "And on 19 plays, [it was] really bad. We can't have that percentage of plays be negative plays for us."
While Wright was down overall, he did say he was pleased to see the Johnson run the read-option offense in the second half against the Bulls. It was the first time in 2013 the Owls have been able to run those plays effectively. But FAU coach Carl Pelini knows the Owls will have to be effective in those playes for the entire game Saturday to have a chance against a strong Middle Tennessee State squad.
"I saw two drives, maybe three, where we were the offense that I think we can be," Pelini said of the Saturday performance. "There were other glimpses of offense throughout that game, but we continued to hurt ourselves with stupid penalties, missed assignments — things like that which are just drive killers.
"The pessimist in me was very frustrated in that. The optimist in me tells me that those are very easy mistakes to fix. It's not like we're not capable of making the block or we're not fast enough."
Next game: vs. Middle Tennessee State, Saturday at noon, CSS