Florida International Preview 2006

Posted Aug 8, 2006

FIU's first season as a D-I team has to be considered a rousing success considering it was hit with a three-year probation for illegal practices and with all the adjustments needed to play at the next level.

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

There's reason to get excited about the future with a fertile recruiting base to work with, a big school with the potential for a fan base, and an exciting young coaching staff that should get better as the program improves.

2005 wasn't all happy, happy, joy, joy with five losses in the first six games hurt most by a crushing 66-24 loss to Arkansas State, but the team quickly found its stride winning four of its final five games including a Sun Belt title ruining 31-29 win over UL Monroe.

It's the Sun Belt, so there are immediate dreams of winning a title and going to a bowl game with a little bit of improvement. The team should be even better this year with a good nucleus of top players and several young playmakers to build for the future.

Head coach: Don Strock
5th year: 15-29
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 15, Def. 24, ST 1
Lettermen Lost: 28
Ten Best FIU Players
1. LB Keyonvis Bouie, Sr.
2. QB Josh Padrick, Sr.
3. DE Antwan Barnes, Sr.
4. TE Samuel Smith, Sr.
5. WR Chandler Williams, Sr.
6. DT Jonas Murrell, Soph.
7. TE Moses Hinton, Soph.
8. SS Chris Smith, Sr.
9. RB A'mod Ned, Soph.
RB Julian Reams, Soph.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction: coming

8/31 at MTSU
9/9 at South Florida
9/16 Bowling Green
9/23 at Maryland
9/30 Arkansas State
10/7 at North Texas
10/14 at Miami
10/28 at Alabama
11/4 UL Monroe
11/18 UL Lafayette
11/25 at Florida Atlantic
12/2 Troy

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2005 Record:
Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 at Kansas St L 35-21
9/10 at Texas Tech L 56-3
9/24 at Arkansas St L 66-24
10/1 Florida A&M W 23-6
10/15 North Texas L 13-10
10/22 at Troy L 18-13
11/5 at UL Monroe W 31-29
11/12 at UL Lafayette L 28-7
11/19 West. Kentucky W 38-35
11/26 Florida Atlantic W 52-6
12/3 MTSU W 35-31

It all begins with the stars. Quarterback Josh Padrick should grow into the role as the league's best quarterback and needs to carry the offense on his back using his experience and live arm to make the attack more productive. He has the league's best tight end combination of Samuel Smith and Moses Hinton to throw to, and he has a dependable number one target in Chandler Williams returning. The backfield has plenty of promise working behind a big, but rebuilt offensive line.

The defense will be a work in progress, but it has two sure-thing All-Sun Belt stars to work with in linebacker Keyonvis Bouie and defensive end Antwan Barnes. The secondary will be the rough spot early on with the corners needing more work, and the smallish defensive front should have a few problems with power running teams.

There will be more than enough chances to see time against some of the biggest national names getting rid of D-IAAers Florida A&M and Western Kentucky for some big paydays and big spotlights, but for FIU, the season will be about improving in Sun Belt play. If the non-conference schedule doesn't beat the team into a pulp, it'll be a player in the race for the New Orleans Bowl.

The Schedule: It starts out with must-win game in the Sun Belt opener at MTSU and is followed up by an interesting battle for in-state bragging rights against South Florida. There are brutal bloodlettings to be had at Maryland, Miami and Alabama, but the Sun Belt schedule has several huge breaks getting Arkansas State, UL Monroe and Troy at home. Three of the final four games are at home with the one road game a trip to Florida Atlantic.

Best Offensive Player: Senior QB Josh Padrick. Can he do for FIU what Steven Jyles did for UL Monroe last year and be the type of player to keep the team in the Sun Belt title hunt? He needs to cut down on his interceptions and has to be even sharper spreading the ball around with an inexperienced receiving corps to work with.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Keyonvis Bouie. One of the nation's best kept secrets will be unearthed this season. He's a top tackler with phenomenal range and a nose for the ball. 150 tackles isn't out of the question if he stays healthy and plays a full 12 games.

Key player to a successful season: Senior CB Zach Davis and junior CB Lionell Singleton. The run defense will produce against the average running teams, but the team won't improve unless it's better against the pass. Davis and Singleton have to be better at anticipating the shorter routes and can't allow quarterbacks to complete 68% of their passes again.

The season will be a success if ... FIU finishes second in the Sun Belt race. It'll go into the season dreaming of winning the title, but there's not enough depth and there's still a D-IAA level of overall talent that'll keep the promising team from falling just short of its goal.

Key game: August 31 at MTSU. FIU beat MTSU 35-31 to close out last year with three straight wins and needs a repeat performance in the opener to get a confidence boost for the rest of the conference season. An 0-4 start, which will likely happen if there's a loss to the Blue Raiders, will hurt going into the Arkansas State game

2005 Fun Stats: 
- Fourth quarter scoring: Opponents 107 - FIU 41
- Average yards per pass: Opponents 8.2 - FIU 6.8
- Fumbles; FIU 24 (lost 18) - Opponents 20 (lost 12)

The Last Time FIU…
…played in a bowl game…never
…missed a bowl game…2005
…pitched a shutout…2002 (Butler)
…was shutout…2002 (Bethune-Cookman)
…scored 50 points…2005 (Florida Atlantic)
…went undefeated…never
…won a conference title…never
…had a 3,000-yard passer…never
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2004 (Rashod Smith)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…never
…had a first-round draft choice…never

Related Stories
Florida International Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 8, 2006
FIU Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 8, 2006
FIU Preview 2006 Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 8, 2006

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