FIU Golden Panthers
Preview 2007 - Offense
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What you need to know: New offensive coordinator James Coley
has a lot of work to do with an offense that finished dead last
in America in scoring averaging fewer than ten points per game
and 116th in the nation in yards averaging 233 per outing. Eight
starters return, including the entire offensive line, and
there's good potential in the backfield with the 1-2 rushing
punch of Julian Reams and A'mod Ned, but the passing game needs
work with Paul McCall likely to take over at quarterback and no
experience at receiver to rely on.
Passing: Paul McCall
7-18, 101 yds, 0 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: A'mod Ned
94 carries, 445 yds, 2 TD
Receiving: Ashlyn Parker
23 catches, 231 yds, 0 TD
Star of the offense: Junior RBs Julian Reams and A'mod
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore
QB Paul McCall
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman WR Torrelt
Best pro prospect: Junior TE Moses Hinton
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Hinton, 2) Reams, 3)
Strength of the offense: Running back, offensive line
Weakness of the offense:
Quarterback and receiver experience
Sophomore Paul McCall didn't get a whole bunch of playing
time behind Josh Padrick, but he's been around long enough to be
considered the main option going into the season. Not big at
only 6-0 and 198 pounds, he'll rely on his smarts and
leadership. The key will be how quickly he'll be able to read
defenses and make decisions. Considering several Ivy League
schools were hot after him, smarts won't be an issue. He saw a
little bit of mop-up time last year completing seven of 18
passes for 101 yards with an interception.
Projected Top Reserves: Redshirt freshman John
Paul Fraites is one of the team's most athletic quarterback
options with good running skills. While not a pure passer, he
has enough of an arm to get by as the number two.
Younger is one of the bigger passers at 6-3 and 178 pounds,
but he'll likely be the number three battling with fellow
redshirt freshman, Randy Van Meter, who at 6-2 and 222
pounds is the biggest of the prospects. On the way is top
recruit Bryan Mann, a 6-3 bomber who could quickly take
over the starting job if McCall struggles early.
Watch Out For ... competition all season long for the
depth chart pecking order. While McCall appears to be the number
one, that doesn't mean the starting job is a done deal. In fact,
it's up to whoever has the best fall camp.
Strength: Young prospects. If you're going to
rebuild, or in this case, build, you might as well have several
young players to mold. FIU has a slew of redshirt freshmen and
true freshmen to work with. Out of the seven quarterbacks,
McCall, a sophomore, is the oldest.
Weakness: Experience. McCall didn't exactly light it up when he
got a chance, and there's no one else on the roster with a lick
of playing time to fall back on. It'll be an overall work in
Outlook: Josh Padrick tried his best last season
without much help around him, but he had a lousy year despite
his years of experience. Now the quarterbacks are starting from
scratch and won't be nearly as savvy or reliable. It'll be an
overall work in progress to figure out which of the young
players actually have a shot at being a part of the mix.
Meanwhile, McCall will try to get the offense going.
Is this the year it all comes together for junior Julian
Reams? With track star speed in a 5-10, 205-pound frame, he
has the tools, but now he has to make it happen after averaging
just 3.1 yards per carry rushing for 325 yards and three
touchdowns. He's a decent receiver who needs the ball in his
hands more on the move; he's a gamebreaker who hasn't broken out
In a hybrid of tight end and fullback, sophomore
John Ellis will fill the role. The 233-pounder has decent
blocking skills and caught four passes for 16 yards and a
touchdown. Doing a little of everything will be a must, and
that'll include being a power runner when needed.
Projected Top Reserves: Reams might technically be
the starter, bit junior A'mod Ned also deserves No. 1
status after leading the team with 445 yards and two touchdowns.
He's a small, shifty runner at only 5-9 and 184 pounds, with the
ability to tear off big runs highlighted by an 80-yard dash
against Bowling Green. He's also a strong receiver catching 17
passes for 141 yards. The problem? He's not a workhorse by any
Redshirt freshman Trenard Turner brings more
size to the mix at 216 pounds. A potential pounder, he'll be the
number three back adding a between-the-tackles change of pace.
Backup up Ellis at the fullback/H-Back will be sophomore
Chance Attaway, who got plenty of playing time as a true
freshman as both a runner, blocking fullback and special teamer.
Purely a short-yardage runner, he only averaged 1.5 yards per
carry with 22 yards in his three starts. At 200 pounds, he's not
going to blow open too many holes.
Watch Out For ... the ground game to be far better.
Ned and Reams are experienced and should thrive with more
overall offensive production. Give them a little bit of room and
they'll make plays.
Strength: Veterans. With the top two rushers
returning, there's time to work in Turner and redshirt freshman
Devon Freeman to see which one has the hot hand and is the back
to work around.
Weakness: Production. If FIU has a special back, he hasn't
emerged yet. 80 of Ned's 445 yards came on one run, while Reams
did next to nothing. This is a ground game that ran for 682
yards on the year with five touchdowns. The line is partially to
blame, but the backs didn't help the cause.
Outlook: It's all about the prospects. Ned and
Reams were the promising backs going into last year, and now
Turner and Freeman are the ones to keep an eye on. The offense
will use a variety of formations, but can the running game be
effective if there's not a steady commitment to it? That remains
to be seen with this group.
With the loss of top receiver Chandler Williams, the opening for
a number one spot is there for the taking. Sophomore John
Houston Whiddon saw time as a true freshman making 11
catches for 111 yards and was used as a kick and punt returner.
He's not all that big at 6-0 and 197 pounds, but he can move
with the quickness and speed to become the team's top deep
threat. In the slot will likely be redshirt freshman Torrelt
Solomon, who has excellent speed and great potential.
Replacing tight end Samuel Smith will be tough, but junior
Moses Hinton will give it a try. The 276-pound blocker
caught three passes for 23 yards, and was never right after
getting over a broken foot, but he has the hands and athleticism
to do far more. He has good speed and size, and now he has to
live up to his potential.
Projected Top Reserves: If sophomore Ashlyn
Parker can get back into the rotation after being shoved
down the depth chart after spring ball, he'll be a major factor
on the outside. The team's leading returning receiver caught 23
passes for 231 yards and should eventually play a big role.
looking to get into the mix will be sophomore Jeremy Dickens,
who started in five games as a true freshman making 21 catches
for 279 yards. He'll try to get over a shoulder injury by this
fall to get back in the hunt for a starting job.
Elliott Dix is one of the team's fastest players and should
play a prominent role in the slot. He should be a big
Behind Hinton at tight end will be
6-3, 218-pound Joey Myers, who was originally considered
a top defensive end prospect. He won't be the all-around player
Hinton is, but he could become a key target.
Watch Out For ... the passing game to have more depth
than ever. There are several young players finally getting their
chance to shine, and there should be a nice rotation once
Dickens is healthy.
Strength: Quickness. While this isn't a corps of
speedsters, there are several quick targets who should be great
after the grab. The key will be to used the quickness to
consistently get open.
Weakness: Experience. On the post-spring depth chart, there's
almost no experience to rely on, and there's absolutely no
sure-thing number on target to go to right off the bat.
Outlook: Despite the loss of Williams and Smith,
the corps should be good as long as Whiddon and Solomon have
breakthrough seasons. Hinton has to stay healthy. If he can, FIU
has a matchup nightmare and a go-to target who'll be a killer on
third downs. Expect this group to get better as the year goes
The line struggled mightily last year, and now it needs the starting
five to shine with everyone returning. On the left side, 6-5, 292-pound
sophomore Andy Leavine took over as a starter from day one as a
true freshman, and while he struggled in pass protection, he showed
glimpses of talent and should be a regular on the line for another three
years. He'll grow into the spot.
Next to him will be senior Jeff
Eugene, a squatty 6-0 and 305 pounds who came over from the JUCO
ranks and was a spot starter. He can play either guard spot.
In the middle returns 6-0, 295-pound junior Xavier Shannon,
the son of Miami head coach, Randy Shannon. He started every game and
should be better now that he's in far better shape than he was at the
beginning of last year. He's not huge, but he's strong.
On the right
side, junior Dustin Gibson returns to the right side after
starting every game last season. A special teamer to start his career,
he bulked up and became a key cog who'll have to start doing more in
At guard will once against be sophomore Joe
Alajajian, an emerging star with as much talent as anyone on the
line. At 6-3 and 290 pounds he has the size become the one the team runs
Projected Top Reserves: It'll be a battle for the
number two guard spot behind Eugene on the left side. 6-2, 274-pound
sophomore Michael Alls has more upside, but 6-2, 320-pound
sophomore Alex Szima has the size and a little bit of experience
seeing time in three games.
True freshman Chris Cawthon is one of
the team's best prospects, but he'll need time. At 6-4 and 320 pounds,
size isn't an issue, and neither is his strength, but he'll have to
fight to get on the field. Also in the hunt for time right away
will be true freshman Shaquan Hicks, a 6-2, 324-pound punisher
who could quickly become the team's best run blocker.
He has the body to
become a defensive tackle, but his size and strength might be needed
right away on the offensive side. Senior Mike Alvarez has seen
time both at guard and center and will work behind Shannon inside. He's
a good run blocker who could turn out to be the most reliable reserve.
Watch Out For ... steadier play. Youth and
inexperience were big problems last year, but now the line should be
appreciably better with all five starters returning.
Strength: Starting experience. This year should be
better, but 2008 should truly rock when all five projected starters this
year will be back. Of course, there are several young prospects who'll
have something to say about that.
Weakness: Backups. It'll be a total disaster if injuries strike
with little to no overall experience to rely on. That'll quickly change
over the course of the season, so the starting five just has to stay
healthy early on.
Outlook: The line almost got QB Josh Padrick
killed and did absolutely nothing for the running game. There's good
size and enough potential to hope for a far better. Step one will be for
the line to find one thing it can do well. Step two will be consistency.