CFN Preview 2013 - FIU Golden Panthers
FIU QB Jake Medlock
FIU QB Jake Medlock
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 28, 2013


Preview 2013 Florida International Golden Panthers


FIU Golden Panthers

Preview 2013
 


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By Richard Cirminiello

Head coach: Ron Turner
1st year: 0-0
9th year: 35-57
Returning Lettermen
Off. 25, Def. 23, ST 0
Lettermen Lost: 25
Ten Best FIU Players
1. QB Jake Medlock, Jr.
2. CB Richard Leonard, Jr.
3. WR Willis Wright, Sr.
4. DT Greg Hickman, Sr.
5. DE Giovani Francois, Jr.
6. CB Sam Miller, Sr.
7. LB Patrick Jean, Soph.
8. DT Isame Faciane, Sr.
9. WR Glenn Coleman, Sr.
10. LG David Delsoin, Jr.
2013 Schedule
8/31 at Maryland
9/7 UCF
9/14 Bethune-Cook.
9/21 at Louisville
9/28 OPEN DATE
10/5 at Southern Miss
10/12 UAB
10/19 OPEN DATE
10/26 Louisiana Tech
11/2 East Carolina
11/9 at Middle Tenn
11/16 at UTEP
11/23 Marshall
11/30 at Florida Atlantic
As the world Turners.

Florida International devolved into college football’s version of a soap opera last year, firing popular and successful head coach Mario Cristobal, and then needing almost a month to replace him. AD Pete Garcia is convinced that well-traveled NFL and college coach Ron Turner will help guide the program to higher ground as it relocates from the Sun Belt to Conference USA in 2013. It won’t take long to learn if he was the right choice, or if Garcia made a major blunder.

Turner inherits a program that missed its mark in 2012, slipping to 3-9. But this is also a school that went to back-to-back bowl games just two years earlier to put down a very solid foundation for the future. Cristobal raised both the talent level and the expectations within the walls of the athletic department, which might have contributed to his own demise. It’ll be up to the new staff to recapture the mojo that the old one had created.

Success in Miami this fall will likely rest of the shoulders of the offense. The Panthers will sport a veteran backfield, led by QB Jake Medlock who’ll team up with fast pair of receivers headed by up-and-coming Willis Wright. The onus now falls on a totally rebuilt O-line to give Medlock the time and space he requires to operate.

The D was a major disappointment in 2012. And reversing last year’s results will only get tougher now that star DE Tourek Williams and SS Johnathan Cyprien are playing for spots on NFL rosters. The Panthers are small and fast, but also inexperience and prone to getting bowled over by physical opponents. The coaches will have their work cut out just to get this crew to an acceptable level in 2013.

It’s been a very strange past half-year for Florida International. The program always knew it was going to lose a hot commodity, such as Cristobal, but no one could have guessed he’d succumb to friendly fire. The task of refocusing the Panthers now belongs to Turner, who hasn’t been the head guy in close to a decade. He has a blank slate, a fertile recruiting territory and an edict to restore some order at FIU.

What to watch for on offense: The long ball is going to play a pivotal role in the Panthers’ attack. FIU will be balanced on offense, yet will also gladly play to its strengths. It’ll run Lamarq Caldwell to set up the pass, mixing in occasional play-action throws to catch opposing defenses off guard. In Willis Wright and Glenn Coleman, the program boasts a pair of fleet-footed veteran receivers capable of getting behind the secondary and padding the stats of junior QB Jake Medlock.

What to watch for on defense: Patrick’s day. A complete unknown at this point, LB Patrick Jean is capable of blooming into a household name in Conference USA circles before very long. He stood out throughout the spring, making plays from sideline to sideline and behind the line of scrimmage. He’s only 6-3 and 205 pounds, but plays big and fast, and already possesses the fundamentals to perform as a sophomore as if he’s been around for a lot longer than just a couple years.

This team will be far better if … it creates more turnovers on defense. The D will have a tough time being better than a year ago, since so many integral parts were lost to graduation. However, it has a very good chance to be more opportunistic after causing only 18 takeaways in 2012. The Panthers are an incomplete production, but they are fast, frenetic and very disruptive. There’s no reason why this team can’t do a much better job of causing mayhem and getting the ball back in the hands of the offense.

The Schedule: The Golden Panthers will be more experienced and should be far better this season under new head coach Ron Turner, but where are the wins going to come from? There’s the layup against Bethune-Cookman, and there’s … uh … UAB? It’s not like the schedule is full of killers, but going to Maryland and Louisville will be a problem early and UCF should be fired up early in the season. Going across town to Florida Atlantic to close out the year won’t really matter, but playing three road games in the final four after dealing with Louisiana Tech and East Carolina will be rough. Fortunately, there aren’t any road dates from October 5th until the trip to Middle Tennessee on November 9th.

Best Offensive Player: Junior QB Jake Medlock. Now that Medlock is entering his third season, the Golden Panthers can boast a veteran behind center. He’s earned two letters and has started 11 games, including nine during an injury-shortened 2012. The 6-3, 220-pounder completed 152-of-263 passes for 2,127 yards, 13 touchdowns and only two picks. Plus, he showed off unexpected mobility and elusiveness for a well-sized passer, rushing for 236 yards and three scores. There’s hope that Medlock can reach a new level of efficiency under the watchful eyes of new head coach Ron Turner and his staff of assistants.

Best Defensive Player: Junior CB Richard Leonard. Last year, Leonard started just six games. This year, he starts to build a following among all-league voters and pro scouts. He possesses all of the speed and athleticism needed to become a lockdown corner and a game-breaking return specialist. In 2012, he had 55 tackles, while finishing second on the team with seven passes defended. During the spring, the staff couldn’t stop raving about how far along he’d come in coverage.

Key players to a successful season: The offensive linemen. The Panthers need to evolve on both sides of the ball, but it’s particularly important that the skill position players on offense are afforded an opportunity to do their thing. If the talents of QB Jake Medlock and WR Willis Wright are in any way muted, Florida International will have a difficult time winning more than it loses this fall. The D just won’t be mature enough to carry this program in 2013.

The season will be a success if ... the Panthers can find six wins and bowl eligibility on the schedule. There’s just one likely lay-up on the roster, a Sept. 14 visit from Bethune-Cookman, to go along with trips to play Maryland and Louisville. Still, Florida International gets seven games in the Sunshine State, six home games and a slate that isn’t exactly littered with landmines. If the line play improves, a bonus game should not be ruled out.

Key game: Nov. 30 at Florida Atlantic. The Shula Bowl has begun to stand out perennially as the most important game on the Panthers’ schedule. There’s a nice rivalry that’s developed between the two programs, both of which are shifting to Conference USA at the same time. FIU has won two straight in the series, and a third in a row would provide a nice boost to the new staff in Miami.

2012 Fun Stats:
- Points per game: FIU 25.0 – Opponents 31.7
- Fumbles lost: FIU 16 – Opponents 8
- Sacks FIU 23 - Opponents 37

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