Like a kid on Christmas, FAU football coach Charlie Partridge couldn't contain his excitement for the first day of spring football. He was out of bed early and in the Tom Oxley Center two hours before the sun rose Wednesday morning. Turns out his assistant coaches couldn't sleep, either. "I came into the office this morning at about 5:30 a.m. and everybody was in there," Partridge said with a smile. "There was a lot of energy in the office. I thought they carried it out [to the field] well." The FAU players were as eager to get on the field as their coaches, though you'll have to forgive the college students for not waking up as early. Partridge and his staff have pledged to go slow in the first few spring practices with their new team, but FAU's new head coach said it was evident from the onset of Wednesday's two-hour session that the Owls didn't add much rust in the offseason. "Organizationally, we're in good shape, and I feel like the kids were in a good place mentally," Partridge said. "They know the playbook, [and] I think they were in the right spots from an assignment standpoint. We've certainly got strides to make, we're not anywhere near game ready, but I'm excited." It was easy to hear the relief in Partridge's voice as he lauded the Owls Wednesday; FAU players carried a significant amount of baggage into the spring. Not all the baggage was bad. On the plus side, the Owls won their final four games of the season in impressive fashion to finish bowl eligible for the first time since 2008. The negatives, of course, are why Partridge is now in charge. The shocking resignation of coach Carl Pelini and defensive coordinator Pete Rekstis last October made national headlines, and while Brian Wright led the Owls to that improbable 4-0 finish, he wasn't retained as head coach (he would stay as offensive coordinator, though). In his place came Partridge and a coaching staff purge. But even after that purge, there was further coaching turnover on Partridge's staff, as defensive coordinator Jovan Dewitt (a holdover from the Pelini and Wright staff) left for Army last month, pushing newcomer Roc Bellantoni into the coordinator role. After a day, it appears that the positives have won out, and that bodes well for the Owls going forward. "There is continuity — obviously we had a change at the defensive coordinator position — but the style and the scheme is so similar, I feel like maybe we picked up where they left off at the end of the season," Partridge said. "I think the biggest thing is to build off their strengths and to build from them. The kids should come into spring with some confidence."
Even with new coach, new staff, FAU football carries late-season success into spring practices
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel | Mar 13