FIU Golden Panthers
Preview 2008 - Offense
2008 CFN FIU Preview |
2008 FIU Offense
2008 FIU Defense |
2008 FIU Depth
2007 CFN FIU Preview |
2006 CFN FIU
What you need to know: James Coley had one year as offensive
coordinator. His attack finished dead last in the nation in
scoring, dead last in passing efficiency, and second-to-last in
total offense. In from Purdue comes Bill Legg and a spread
attack looking to get the passing game going and get the offense
moving. Does FIU have a quarterback who can throw? Paul McCall
could be the answer, but Wayne Younger, last year's main man,
will get a shot at his old job when he comes back from a
collarbone injury. The running backs are experienced, the
receivers are promising, and the line should be better. Now the
offense has to start producing.
Passing: Wayne Younger
121-265, 1,357 yds, 9 TD, 17 INT
Rushing: A'mod Ned
143 carries, 581 yds, 2 TD
Receiving: Jason Frierson
21 catches, 190 yds, 0 TD
Star of the offense: Junior QB Paul McCall & sophomore
QB Wayne Younger
Player who has to step up and become a star: McCall &
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Marquis Rolle
Best pro prospect: Sophomore C Brad Serini
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Serini, 2) OT Andy
Leavine, 3) McCall
Strength of the offense: Experience, quarterback options
Weakness of the offense:
Passing, running, scoring
While Wayne Younger will get his chance to get the job back,
junior Paul McCall will be tough to beat out after a good
spring. The 6-0, 198-pounder saw time in 11 games last season
and was the team's most effective passer completing 56% of his
throws for 413 yards and five touchdowns with one interception,
and while he's not the playmaker Younger is, he's a decent
runner and is bright enough to handle the new offense.
Considering several Ivy League schools were hot after him,
smarts won't be an issue.
Projected Top Reserves: 6-2, 178-pound sophomore
Wayne Younger is a tall, athletic passer who took over
the offense early on, and while he struggled mightily, he showed
glimpses of tremendous potential before getting knocked out with
a broken collarbone. Still out this spring healing, he'll have
to fight to get his starting job back after completing a mere
48% of his throws for 1,357 yards and nine touchdowns with 17
interceptions. On the plus side, he can move finishing second on
the team with 536 rushing yards and two scores.
Also in the hunt for starting time is sophomore Colt Anderson,
a 6-4, 195-pound pass from Omaha who looked far more polished
this spring than he did last year. He got a little bit of mop-up
duty and way as bas as he could possibly be completing three of
15 passes for 37 yards with two touchdowns. He's mobile, but
he's not the runner McCall and Younger are.
Watch Out For ... a battle this summer. While it
might have been assumed that it was Younger's gig going into the
year, McCall was good enough this spring to potentially snag the
starting spot. Younger will have to be strong.
Strength: Veterans. The passing game might have
stunk, but at least Younger has experience now, McCall has been
around the offense for a few years and knows what he's doing in
the new spread, and even Anderson got a little bit of work in
Weakness: Throwing the ball. Things appeared to be far better
this spring, but last year the passing game was one of the least
efficient in college football history. To put it in perspective,
FIU finished last in the nation with a passing efficiency rating
of 91.33. The second least efficient passing game, Idaho's, was
at 94.49. Mississippi State was the only other team to finish
Outlook: If nothing else, there should be more
consistent play with several options to work with. Younger and
McCall will each see meaningful work this season, while Anderson
will be an interesting option. With more passing in the equation
in the new offense, McCall might have the edge, but Younger
won't be far behind, if at all.
Senior A'mod Ned has been part of the backfield rotation
for a few years and has been the team's leading rusher over the
last two seasons. The small, shifty 5-9, 184-pound jitterbug ran
for 581 yards and two touchdowns while finishing tied for third
on the team with 16 catches for 103 yards and a score. With his
speed and quickness he should be more of a consistent home-run
hitter, and he'll come up with one or two big plays here and
there, but he has to be more of a workhorse and he has to make
more big plays.
Projected Top Reserves: If Ned is the starter,
then senior Julian Reams is 1A on the depth chart. At
5-10 and 205 pounds with tremendous speed, he has all the tools
to be a major weapon, but it has never come together as he
averaged just 3.3 yards per carry, after averaging 3.1 yards per
crack as a sophomore, and finished third on the team with 274
yards and two scores and only caught eight passes for 41 yards.
Returning at fullback, when one is needed in the new offense, is
junior John Ellis, who plays a hybrid of tight end and
blocking back. He only carried the ball three times, but he
caught 11 passes for 40 yards and a score. The 5-10, 233-pounder
needs to be more of a power runner, but that's not really his
game. He'll work mostly at tight end in the new offense.
The third man in the mix is 5-9, 195-pound junior Daunte
Owens, a speed back who ended up running for 34 yards and
catching two passes for 17 more. He only averaged 1.9 yards per
carry, but he has the quickness to do far more when healthy.
That was a problem last season as he played hurt most of the
Watch Out For ... the ground game to be better.
Averaging 119 yards per game might not seem like much, but
considering sacks are thrown into the net total, things improved
after a lousy 2006. Now the Panthers have to use the experience
of Ned and Reams to do more.
Strength: Veterans. Ned and Reams have been a
major part of the offense for three years and will provide a
nice, experienced pair to count on from time to time. They might
not be impressive, but they'll help add some balance.
Weakness: Production. The ground game ran for 682
yards and five touchdowns in 2006 and was saved last year by the
536 yards of rushing production from QB Wayne Younger. 60 of
Ned's 581 yards came on one play while Reams continued to
disappoint. To be fair, it's not like the line helped too much.
Outlook: The running game could use some new blood
and some new options to throw into the mix, but it'll be up to
Ned, Reams, and the rushing of the quarterbacks to get things
going on the ground. The plus out of this group, besides the
experience, is the ability to catch the ball. In the new
offense, there will be more lanes to run through and more
opportunities to do things in space, but if the backs aren't
doing much as receivers, they're not all that productive.
The new passing offense got a jolt of promise this spring as
junior Jeremy Dickens looked the part of a No. 1 target.
The 5-10, 183-pound missed almost half the season hurt but he
still finished third on the team with 16 catches for 218 yards
and a team-leading three scores. Staying healthy, especially in
his spot in the slot, is a must after getting hurt two years ago
with a shoulder injury to go along with last year's problems.
6-3, 200-pound sophomore Greg Ellingson was one of the
team's most dangerous targets averaging 16 yards per catch on 19
grabs for 304 yards and two touchdowns. He might not of caught
many passes, but he was good for a few here and there and he
should be able to do more after a promising true freshman
Working at one of the outside spots will be sophomore Marquis
Rolle, one of the biggest surprises in spring ball. The 6-3,
185-pounder looked like a natural in the spread with 4.46 speed
and good route running ability to go along with his size. If
he's not starting, he'll work in a rotation with Ellingson.
Back at tight end will be Miami transfer Eric Kirchenberg,
a 6-5, 250-pound senior who caught five passes for 49 yards. He
was a scout teamer for the Hurricanes and tore his ACL before he
was able to make any sort of an impact. Now he's healthy and
should be a big part of the passing game.
Projected Top Reserves: 6-0, 201-pound junior
Elliott Dix is one of the team's fastest players, and now he
has to use his wheels a bit more after catching 14 passes for
200 yards. He has the potential to be great yard-after-the-catch
receiver, but he needs to get the ball on the move.
Sophomore James Frierson ended up leading the team in
receiving with 21 catches for 190 yards as a true freshman, but
he'll have to fight for playing time. He saw most of his work in
garbage time comeback mode, but the 5-8, 160-pound cousin
of former Miami Hurricane star and current San Francisco 49er,
Frank Gore, has the potential to grow into a regular in the
rotation in several spots.
6-1, 190-pound sophomore James Rucker is a physical
receiver who caught 12 passes for 100 yards with a touchdown
against Troy. He'll start out battling for a spot on the
outside, but he can play at any of the positions.
6-2, 187-pound senior Travis Felder is more like another
wide receiver than a true tight end. Fullback/tight end John
Ellis will likely receive most of the work, but Felder is
tremendously athletic. The former walk-on and top high school
basketball player was a good scout teamer.
Watch Out For ... the receivers to finally be able to
show what they can do. Bad quarterback play and a struggling
offense kept the receivers from ever getting into any sort of a
groove. With more of an emphasis on the passing game, now the
young targets have to do their job.
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 consistently get open, and
that was far easier said than done last year.
Weakness: Playmaking ability. Can the receivers actually play?
There's good athleticism and good potential, but there isn't a
true number one, at least not a proven one, and there are
several ifs. The corps has to make the quarterbacks better.
Outlook: This was a big problem area last season
after going through a bit of reshuffling and retooling, and now
the Golden Panthers have to get big-time production out of
Dickens and Rolle to get the passing game on track. While the
wealth will be spread around, FIU needs one guy it can count on
game-in-and-game out. That might take a few weeks.
Even with all five starters returning, the line was a major problem last
season. Now two starters need to be replaced with right tackle Xavier
Shannon the big loss. He left to play for his dad at Miami, and now
it'll be up to 6-1, 253-pound junior Mario Caraballo to step in
and produce. Woefully undersized, he's a good athlete who bulked up from
the 238 pound he was at when he originally signed.
The other open spot is at left guard where 6-5, 285-pound senior
Dustin Gibson takes over
after playing in six games as a reserve. A good recruit for the program,
he has been tried out in several spot, including tackle and long
snapper, but hasn't been able to break through and be a top producer. He
started every game at right tackle two years ago, and now will work on
The star of the line is left tackle Andy Leavine, a 6-5,
292-pound junior who has been a starter since day one and has shown
glimpses of top potential. While he struggled against speed rushers and
still needs work, he's plenty tough having played through a broken hand
suffered in the season opener.
Also back is 6-4, 275-pound sophomore Brad Serini at center after
starting every game as a true freshman. A good recruit two years ago
with excellent upside, he should be the anchor for the line for the next
three seasons now that he has started to bulk up a bit. He's a mauler
who should do far more for the running game.
Returning at right guard is 6-3, 290-pound junior Joe Alajajian
after starting 11 games. He has been a big part of the line for the last
few seasons, and with the athleticism to go along with his strength, he
should be more of a factor for the ground attack.
Projected Top Reserves: While Serini is the main
man in the middle, redshirt freshman Juan Gonzalez will see a
little bit of time in the rotation. At 5-10 and 245 pounds, he's a
small, quick option in the middle who should grow into a decent pass
On the way to push for time at one of the tackle spots is 6-4, 320-pound
JUCO transfer Cedric Mack.
A JUCO All-American, he was a star recruit who could've gone to a BCS
school without a problem, but needs to be a factor right away.
At some point, 6-4, 327-pound redshirt freshman Chris Cawthon
will see action at guard. At his size, and with tremendous strength,
he'll be a key backup at right guard behind Alajajian.
Watch Out For ... Mack. He's the big, veteran lineman
with tremendous skill that the line has desperately been missing. He
could quickly become the go-to blocker to work around.
Strength: Huge options. The line likes to use
smallish athletic options, but it now has some big bodies to start
leaning on lines. Cawthon is 327 pounds and Mack is 320.
Weakness: Run blocking. The pass protection wasn't a plus, but
the biggest problem was trying to generate a consistent push up front.
The Golden Panthers only had one game with more than 159 rushing yards.
Outlook: The line almost got the quarterbacks
killed and struggled to generate a push for the ground game. Now there's
more talent, more experience, and some decent backups to count on. This
should be a far better line than it has been in a few years, but that's
not saying much. With Leavine and Serini to start with, everything else
has to start falling into place.