New comers get experience in Owls' backfield

Special to The Palm Beach Post

Sunday, August 16, 2009

BOCA RATON There were more new faces in Florida Atlantic's backfield on Sunday.

A day after FAU scrimmaged without its top two fullbacks because of injuries, the Owls took the field without two out of their top three tailbacks for practice Sunday.

Neither second-teamer Avionne Rolle or third-teamer Mike Barasch practiced, leaving freshman running back Travis Jones, a Treasure Coast graduate, to take most of the snaps behind starter Alfred Morris.

"I liked the experience," Jones said. "I can get better with the quarterbacks and with offensive line to run to the holes faster. ... I learned something every time I touched the ball."

FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger did not disclose the injuries for Barasch and Rolle, but he said they were not serious and both players are expected back, possibly this week.

"None of them are extensive, but the young guys got a lot of work," Schnellenberger said. "It's too early to talk about them yet, but they are all good signees."

The Owls are already thin at tailback after starter Jeff Blanchard, an Olympic Heights graduate, tore his ACL in the spring and second-team tailback Willie Floyd tore a pectoral muscle lifting weights just before training camp started. Both players are expected to miss the season.

Other freshmen taking snaps with Jones with the second-team offense were Tyrie Allen and Damian Fortnter.

Starting fullback Willie Rose (hip) and second-teamer Xavier Stinson (bruised ribs) were both dressed for practice Sunday, but Rose did not participate,

The Owls will hold three practices today beginning at 8 a.m.