2013 FIU Preview - Offense

Posted Jul 28, 2013

Preview 2013 Florida International Golden Panthers Offense

FIU Golden Panthers

Preview 2013 - Offense

- 2013 FIU Preview | 2013 FIU Offense
- 2013 FIU Defense | 2013 FIU Depth Chart

What You Need To Know: Buh-bye, spread. Hello, more conventional offense. New head coach Ron Turner will employ multiple looks, but achieving balance will be his ultimate goal in 2013. He and the staff want to keep defenses guessing, setting up the pass with the run, and even showcasing some two-tight end looks. Turner is going to play to his personnel, which is sound in the backfield, fast on the outside and frighteningly unsettled in the trenches. FIU is set at quarterback with Jake Medlock and E.J. Hilliard, though the former must find a way to absorb less contact than in the past. Unfortunately, RB Kedrick Rhodes, an all-star candidate, was dismissed from the team on July 15 for a violation of team rules. Medlock’s right arm might be sore by November as he attempts to reach fleet-footed senior receivers Willis Wright and Glenn Coleman. Wright was on a tear as last season came to a close. The O-line might be the weakest unit on either side of the ball. It returns just eight career starts, and both tackles will undergo a crash course on keeping the pocket clean.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Jake Medlock
152-263, 2,127 yds, 13 TDs, 2 INTs
Rushing: Jake Medlock
87 carries, 236 yds, 3 TDs
Receiving: Willis Wright
25 catches, 633 yds, 5 TDs

Star of the offense: Junior QB Jake Medlock
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore LT Aaron Nielsen
Unsung star on the rise: Senior WR Glenn Coleman
Best pro prospect: Senior WR Willis Wright
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Wright, 2) Medlock, 3) Senior WR Glenn Coleman
Strength of the offense: Quarterback depth, running back, speed at receiver
Weakness of the offense: Depth, the O-line, pass protection, turnovers, red-zone offense


Now that Jake Medlock is entering his junior year, Florida International can boast a veteran behind center. He’s earned a couple of letters and started 11 games, including nine during an injury-shortened 2012. The 6-3, 220-pounder from Jacksonville, Fla. completed 152-of-263 passes for 2,127 yards, 13 touchdowns and only two picks. Plus, he showcased unexpected mobility for a well-sized passer, rushing for 236 yards and three scores. The hope is that Medlock can hit the tarmac under the tutelage of new head coach Ron Turner and his staff of assistant coaches.

Backing up Medlock will be 6-3, 205-pound sophomore E.J. Hilliard, who’ll begin his second year battle-tested. He started three games for an injured Medlock last fall, going 65-of-94 for 645 yards, four touchdowns and three picks. Even better, he performed like a different player during spring practice.

Watch Out For .... Hilliard to see the field intermittently in the fall. Between the sophomore’s improvement and the incumbent’s durability concerns, both quarterbacks will receive important snaps in 2013. Medlock is the starter, but the staff has waning worries about using Hilliard in key moments this season.
Strength: Seasoned players. The Panthers harbor not one, but two quarterbacks with starting experience, a luxury for a new coaching staff. Medlock is a proven veteran and leader, while Hilliard is quickly narrowing the divide in the competition for the top spot.
Weakness: Durability. In an ideal world, Medlock plays the entire season, with Hilliard spelling the starter occasionally and flattening the learning curve. However, the junior takes a lot of punishment, standing tall in the pocket and lowering his shoulder in the open field. There’s a decent chance he’ll miss time again this fall.
Outlook: Florida International is in nice shape behind center, especially as it begins play in a new league. Both quarterbacks, Medlock and Hilliard, are capable of leading this offense, creating uncommon depth and versatility for the program. If the two hurlers can push each other hard this August, everyone on offense will benefit from the atmosphere.
Rating: 5.5

Running Backs

Former 1,000-yard rusher Kedrick Rhodes was looking at this season as a chance to rebound from an injury-plagued 2012. Instead, he’s a man without a team after he ran afoul of team rules in July and got booted from the program. In his place steps sophomore Lamarq Caldwell who had used a solid offseason to move into the No. 2 spot on the depth chart. The 6-0, 220-pound battering ram can really move a pile and break arm tackles. He’ll now earn the lion’s share of carries, especially in short yardage and near the goal line.

For a change-of-pace off the bench, FIU can turn to junior Jakhari Gore, a transfer from LSU. At 5-10 and 175 pounds, he’s not very big, but he can scamper into the open field with his speed and elusiveness. The former Tiger has the potential to be the home run threat the offense is seeking.

Watch Out For .... the Golden Panthers to use multiple backs to help offset the unexpected loss of Rhodes. Is Caldwell the solution? Maybe, but he’s going to need help from the likes of Gore and sophomore Shane Coleman, particularly in the early stages of the season.
Strength: Between the tackles running. Caldwell has a knack for playing even bigger than his considerable size, lowering his shoulder and bouncing off opposing defenders. Ditto Coleman, who stands to develop into a valuable and assertive option off the bench.
Weakness: Proven backups. With the departures of Rhodes, Darian Mallary and Jeremiah Harden, Florida International is suddenly extremely thin off the bench. Yeah, Caldwell and Gore possess interesting and complementary measurables, but there’s no telling how they’ll perform, especially since Rhodes was ushered out so late in the offseason.
Outlook: The Panthers felt pretty about their situation in the running game … and then disaster struck. Rhodes’ poor decision-making will have a profound impact on the offense for the entire years. Florida International is going to miss his ability to keep the chains moving, while providing balance to the passing of Jake Medlock.
Rating: 4.5


QB Jake Medlock has the arm strength to stretch the defense. When he looks to air the ball out, he’ll likely be peering in the direction of No. 1, senior long ball hitter Willis Wright. After being almost non-existent during the first two-plus years of his career, he took flight midway through 2012. The 6-2, 200-pounder finally began to maximize his size and soft hands, developing into the Panthers’ most lethal pass-catcher on the outside. Wright’s final tally read 25 receptions for 633 yards and five touchdowns. But over the final six games, he caught 19 balls for 525 yards and all five of those scores, providing a wicked tailwind heading into this season.

Wright will be joined in the starting lineup by 6-2, 200-pound senior Glenn Coleman. The four-game starter in 2012 is coming off his best season with the program, finishing fifth on the team with 13 catches for 227 yards and two touchdowns. He’s well-sized and the fastest Panther on offense, a combination that could lead to a major uptick in production this fall.

In the new offense, FIU will use plenty of two-tight end formations, great news for 6-5, 230-pound sophomore Ya’keem Griner and 6-2, 230-pound senior Jake Schaubhut. Griner got his feet wet as a rookie with nine receptions for 113 yards. Schaubhut is a former Air Force transfer who caught his first two balls for 29 yards a year ago.

Behind Wright are a couple of other burners, 5-11, 185-pound sophomore T.J. Lowder and 5-11, 170-pound senior Rockey Vann. Lowder caught five passes in 2012, while Vann played in three games. Coleman will be backed up by sophomore Dominique Rhymes, a fearless 6-4, 210-pound with the big frame to cause matchup problems.

Watch Out For .... the tight ends to catch a decent number of balls this season. Not only does the staff like to use the position in the passing game, but the outside receivers are capable of stretching the field and creating space on underneath and intermediate routes.
Strength: The long ball. Wright averaged more than 25 yards a reception last season, and he isn’t even the fastest wideout of the corps. Coleman has the sub-4.5 speed to give the Panthers two explosive receivers capable of getting behind the defensive backfield.
Weakness: Consistency. The coaches will be searching for tighter execution from the pass-catchers, especially now that two of last year’s top three receivers have graduated. With an additional year of experience in the system, the team wants for tighter routes, fewer drops and improved blocking by the receivers when the ball is not in their hands.
Outlook: While there’s a lot of flash that comes from Wright and Coleman, can they do the little things well from September to November? The receivers remain an unfinished and erratic product, especially off the bench. Schaubhut and Griner will play important roles in the passing attack, with a chance for both to catch at least 20 balls in 2013.
Rating: 5

Offensive Line

The Panthers are starting from scratch along the O-line, losing a handful of productive starters up front. In fact, there’s not a single full-timer returning from 2012. Junior LG David Delsoin is suddenly the team’s most experienced blocker, starting four games at right guard last fall. The 6-6, 305-pounder is strong at the point of attack, and will need to take on more of a leadership role.

Right guard, which was in a perpetual state of flux last year, will be decided between 6-4, 290-pound junior Delmar Taylor and 6-3, 310-pound junior Jordan White. White started a pair of games in 2012, but lost some traction by missing spring with an injury. Taylor, a native of the Bahamas, has limited experience in the sport, including a stint at Navarro (Tex.) College.

Junior Donald Senat is making the shift from right guard, where he started two games a year ago, to center this season. A bit undersized at 6-2 and 285 pounds, he’ll rely on his quickness and his motor to make the most of this promotion.

Both tackles will be unproven and wide-eyed this fall. On the left side, 6-4, 270-pound sophomore Aaron Nielsen holds an edge on 6-5, 310-pound redshirt freshman Edens Sineace. Nielsen is a converted defensive end, with the feet of a tight end, but needs to add weight to avoid being blown off the ball.

The frontrunner at right tackle is sophomore Yousif Khoury, a one-time transfer from Grossmont (Calif.) Community College. Ideally built for the position at 6-6 and 315 pounds, he has a long wingspan, now needing to improve his fundamentals.

Watch Out For .... Delsoin to take on more of a leadership role this season. He and Senat are now the veterans up front, and they’re being asked to act like it. Delsoin, in particular, has had enough reps to feel confident about leading the younger players.
Strength: The interior. Relatively speaking, the Panthers will be strongest at guard and center this season, where the only three linemen with starting experience reside. FIU should be able to run the ball with Lamarq Caldwell, especially between the tackles.
Weakness: Pass protection. Florida International ranked 109th nationally a year ago in sacks allowed, when it had two All-Sun Belt tackles on the roster. How bad might the situation become now that inexperienced and overmatched underclassmen are poised to take over on the flanks?
Outlook: If the Panthers’ offense stumbles this fall, it’ll likely be because of this group, a cobbled together O-line that will struggle mightily to hold up at the point of attack. Florida International brings just eight career starts into 2013, a frightening reality as it begins life in a new and more challenging conference. This unit could challenge as the weakest FBS line this season.
Rating: 4.5

- 2013 FIU Preview | 2013 FIU Offense
- 2013 FIU Defense | 2013 FIU Depth Chart