2007 Florida International Preview - Offense

Posted May 10, 2007

Preview 2007 Florida International Golden Panthers Offense

FIU Golden Panthers

Preview 2007 - Offense

- 2007 FIU Preview | 2007 FIU Defense Preview
2007 FIU Depth Chart | 2006 CFN FIU Preview 

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. 

Returning Leaders
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 Ned
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore QB Paul McCall
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman WR Torrelt Solomon
Best pro prospect: Junior TE Moses Hinton
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Hinton, 2) Reams, 3) Ned
Strength of the offense: Running back, offensive line experience
Weakness of the offense:
Quarterback and receiver experience


Projected Starter: 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.

Wayne 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.
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 progress.
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.
Rating: 4

Running Backs

Projected Starters: 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 yet. 

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 stretch.

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.
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.
Rating: 4.5


Projected Starters: 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.

Also 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.

Sophomore Elliott Dix is one of the team's fastest players and should play a prominent role in the slot. He should be a big yard-after-the-catch target.

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.
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 on.
Rating: 4.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: 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 pass protection.

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 behind.

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.
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.
Rating: 4.5


Related Stories
2007 Florida International Preview
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 10, 2007
2007 Florida International Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 10, 2007
2007 FIU Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 10, 2007

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