Kiffin plays quarterback roulette
BOCA RATON — Florida Atlantic coach Lane Kiffin went away from the quarterback that orchestrated a 42-7 scoring run against rival FIU last Saturday as his starter versus Western Kentucky.
He went back to De’Andre Johnson and then back away from him again, in favor of redshirt freshman Chris Robison before the end of the first half at FAU Stadium on Saturday during the Owls’ homecoming game.
Robison trotted out with the first-team offense on FAU’s opening drive against the Hilltoppers and was on for their first touchdown drive, engineered mostly by the running game. He completed a pair of passes, but junior back Devin “Motor” Singletary had a 31-yard rush to get the Owls into WKU territory and Kerrith Whyte scored on an 8-yard touchdown run.
Up 10-6, Kiffin went back to Johnson early in the second quarter after three Robison drives. Johnson had a rushing touchdown called back and then threw an interception to end the red-zone scoring threat. Robison was 8 of 10 for 96 yards at the time of the change.
Johnson came up empty on a second consecutive possession, and Kiffin went back to Robison. He lost a fumble on the Owls’ final drive before halftime that led to a Hilltoppers field goal.
Earlier this week, Kiffin would not publicly commit to a starter. That after Johnson’s performance last week which saw him throw two touchdowns, run for
52 yards and open up lanes for Singletary and Whyte to amass
349 rushing yards combined. Robison handled the original benching well.
“I want to be great,” Robison said this past week. “Even though, the competitor I am, I want to be taking the ones reps, but I’m all about team.”
Johnson said he noticed no difference in the distribution of first-team reps this past week in practice.
“I’m just executing what coach Kiffin is designing up — him and [offensive coordinator Charlie Weis Jr.],” said Johnson. “Whichever way I can contribute to the team is what I’m dedicated and committed to doing. Whatever helps the team win.”
Johnson arrived in Boca Raton last year after stints at FSU and East Mississippi CC, where he was featured on Netflix series “Last Chance U.”
Robison has started every game except for a 21-13 loss at home to Louisiana Tech where grad transfer Rafe Peavey started as Robison dealt with an ankle injury. Robison entered the lineup late in the game for the Owls’ final drive.
Said receiver DeSean Holmes: “I feel like everybody we have are good quarterbacks. They’ve been thrown in the fire, so all we have to do is go and rally around them.”
Milestone for Singletary: Singletary eclipsed the 4,000-yard career rushing yard milestone on the Owls’ opening drive on Saturday. He is the only FAU player to reach the mark as the program’s all-time leading rusher, passing Alfred Morris earlier this season . ...
Receiver Willie Wright returned after suffering a concussion in last week’s win at FIU. He was hit on a play where Panthers defensive back Richard Dames was called for targeting as Wright reached for a pass in the flat . ...
As part of the homecoming festivities at FAU, the 2008 Owls’ football team was honored. Quarterback Rusty Smith and linebacker Michael Lockley were on hand from the team that won the Motor City Bowl.