2008 CFN FIU Preview |
2008 FIU Offense
2008 FIU Defense |
2008 FIU Depth
2007 CFN FIU Preview |
2006 CFN FIU
Head coach: Mario Cristobal
2nd year: 1-11
Off. 23, Def. 28, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 19
Best FIU Players
1. LB Scott Bryant, Jr.
2. SS Jeremiah Weatherspoon, Sr.
3. FS Ashlyn Parker, Jr.
4. C Brad Serini, Soph.
5. OT Andy Leavine, Jr.
6. CB Anthony Gaitor, Soph.
7. RB A'mod Ned, Sr.
8. LB Mannie Wellington, Jr.
9. RB Julian Reams, Sr.
10. QB Paul McCall, Jr.
CFN Prediction: 2-10
2008 Record: 0-0
Aug. 30 at Kansas
Sept. 6 at Iowa
Sept. 20 South Florida
Sept. 27 at Toledo
Oct. 4 at North Texas
Oct. 11 Middle Tennessee
Oct. 18 at Troy
Nov. 1 at UL Lafayette
Nov. 8 Arkansas State
Nov. 22 at Florida Atlantic
Nov. 29 UL Monroe
Dec. 6 Western Kentucky
CFN Prediction: 1-11
2007 Record: 1-11
Sept. 1 at
Penn State L 59-0
Maryland L 26-10
Sept. 15 at
Miami L 23-9
Sept. 22 at
Kansas L 55-3
Sept. 29 at
Middle Tenn L 47-6
UL Monroe L 28-14
Arkansas L 58-10
Arkansas St L 27-24
Lafayette L 38-28
Atlantic L 55-23
It has been a slow
and painful process to get FIU football rolling, and it hasn't helped
much that Florida Atlantic, a natural geographical rival, has become the
new star of the Sun Belt. Under
Mario Cristobal, the young head coach who's trying to navigate the rough
waters in his second season, the potential is there for things to start
changing around in a bit of a hurry.
To start, the offense needs to be more productive. The passing game was
among the most inefficient in recent history, the team scored a mere 28
points in the first five games, and even though things picked up at the
end of the season, FIU still finished last in America in scoring offense
averaging 15 points per game.
All the problems on offense have taxed a defense that was trying to
retool, too. The linebacking corps needed to start from near-scratch,
the line was working in several young players, including a few true
freshmen, and the secondary was getting its feet wet around Lionell
Singleton, who graduated this year.
Now, it's up to Cristobal, known for being a tireless recruiter, has
worked to provide instant upgrades all over the place, and while his
efforts will take a while to bring results, he has the wheels in motion
for what should be a stronger program over the next few seasons.
Having to overcome youth, suspensions, academic issues and poor play on
the field, the Golden Panthers now need to take a few positive steps
forward. Those began late last year as the offense picked up over the
final month, there was a win over North Texas to close things out, and
now the team has to start producing.
The coaching staff is in place, there's depth, stability, a little bit
of talent, and a whole bunch of hope. The program appears to have hit
rock-bottom, and now the turnaround is coming. It just might take a year
for it to all completely come together.
What to watch for on offense: The quarterback situation. This was
an issue last year, and while Wayne Younger might be the more dynamic
player with the bigger upside, the offense didn't start to move until
Paul McCall took over. Younger's collarbone injury allowed McCall to
step in, and now there will be a battle to run new offensive coordinator
Bill Legg's new spread offense.
What to watch for on defense: More of an attitude. Last year's
defense spent the year trying to figure out what it was doing. This
year's group is seasoned, salty, and ready to make more big plays. It
showed as spring ball went on as the D started to make more big plays
and start to be more aggressive. Now there should be more of a pass rush
and more attacking.
The team will be far better if … it can turn around the
turnover margin. Only Baylor, Hawaii and North Texas turned the ball
over more. Interceptions were the biggest problem as Younger struggled
to get the passing game going. He was a strong option because of his
running skills, but several hopeful drives kept dying because of
turnovers. They have to stop.
Six of the first eight games are on the road including Sun Belt
battles with North Texas, Troy and UL Lafayette, but on the plus side,
three of the final four games are at home with the one road date at
Florida Atlantic. The non-conference schedule is tough, as expected,
starting out at Kansas and Iowa, and with a date against South Florida,
but Toledo and, in what is technically a non-conference game against
Western Kentucky, aren't too bad. The key will be to get to the second
half of the season alive. If FIU can somehow win two of its first seven
games, it'll have a shot at its best year since joining the D-I ranks.
Best Offensive Player:
Junior C Brad Serini. One of the team's ironmen last season as the
leader of the line, he is on the verge of becoming an all-star. While
not huge at 275 pounds, he's a tough mauler who'll get better and better
with a little more experience.
Best Defensive Player:
Junior LB Scott Bryant. One of the biggest question marks going into
last season was the linebacking corps that underwent a total overhaul.
Bryant came through with a huge year leading the team in tackles while
being a key playmaker in the backfield. Now he's the leader of a quick,
rising corps that should be far better.
Key player to a
Junior QB Paul McCall ... or sophomore QB Wayne Younger. Any improvement
in the record only comes with a more efficient passing game, and while
Younger will get his shot when he returns from injury this fall, McCall
ran the spread offense well this spring and could be the catalyst to a
rebound of a year.
The season will be a
... FIU wins five games. That would require a major turnaround in
several areas and a lot of luck, but there's enough experience to hope
for a big change. Some conference road wins are a must and a late season
flurry will have to come, but it's possible if the team makes the
strides it did at the end of last year.
Oct. 4 at North Texas. The win over the Mean Green was FIU's lone
victory last season, and now a win to start out the Sun Belt year is a
must before dealing with Middle Tennessee, at Troy and at UL Lafayette
to follow. The secondary will be tested by the UNT passing game, while
it should be one of the first big chances for the Golden Panther spread
offense to get on track.
2007 Fun Stats:
quarters 1 through 3: Opponents 374 – FIU 115
- Red zone scores: Opponents 58 of 64 (91%) – FIU 13 of 22 (59%)
- First downs: Opponents 252 – FIU 165