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Partridge wants Owls to set tone for season with solid opener

August 30, 2016 GMT

Florida Atlantic coach Charlie Partridge said Monday that a victory in the season-opener against Southern Illinois can set the tone for an entire season.

“There is an emphasis on winning this game, this week. Our current mission is 100 percent Southern Illinois,” said Partridge, the Owls’ third-year coach who has overseen back-to-back 3-9 seasons.

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  • Although 3-8 last season, the Salukis will be a formidable adversary with a new coaching staff and several key returning players.

    “I have a ton of respect for Coach Nick Hill, who played quarterback there. You can feel that they’re building a buzz around his program,” Partridge said. “I saw a clip where he was driving students to class on his golf cart. He was their offensive coordinator last year. They averaged 498 yards a game, which was a record-setting year for (the Missouri Valley Conference).”

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    Besides a potent offense, the Owls offense will face a series of challenging defensive schemes.

    “They hired defensive coordinator Kraig Paulson, who had a ton of experience at Montana and UNLV,” Partridge said. “They really have a heck of a system on defense.”

    Senior linebacker Chase Allen, who ranked 15th in the nation last season with 120 tackles, anchors that defense.

    “Their linebacker is one of their top players and all-league. They have top transfers coming in at the corner positions, move them into safeties and athletic guys who can help them in the back end,” Partridge said. “They’re going to be well-coached and know what to do.”

    Both teams named their starting quarterbacks last week. Jason Driskel got the nod over Daniel Parr to guide the FAU offense. For SIU, transfer Josh Straughan, a much heralded Division II QB for Stillman College, beat out returnee Sam Straub.

    According to Partridge, the key to defeating SIU is a process.

    “Elite focus, relentless effort and fundamentals,” he said. “If we do that, we will feel very good about our chances.”