2010 FIU Preview Offense
FIU WR T.Y. Hilton
Preview 2010 Florida International Golden Panthers Offense
Preview 2010 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: New offensive coordinator Scott Satterfield has to find something that works, and it all begins with the line. A disaster once again last season, the front five was one of the team's biggest disappointments. On the plus side, all the injuries and issues meant playing time for several players who'll need to form a cohesive unit this year, especially in pass protection. The receiving corps is fantastic, led by T.Y. Hilton, Syracuse transfer Jeremiah Harden gives the backfield another fast runner, and the quarterback situation is improved with Wayne Younger looking far sharper this offseason and Mississippi State transfer Wesley Carroll good enough to shine right away. But for an offense that averaged a mere 321 yards and 23 points per game, finding some consistency and more of a ground game is a must.
Star of the offense: Junior WR T.Y. Hilton
Passing: Wayne Younger
22-58, 257 yds, 4 INT
Rushing: Darriet Perry
103 carries, 301 yds, 3 TD
Receiving: T.Y. Hilton
57 catches, 632 yds, 5 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior OT James Wiggins
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OT Dave Istanich
Best pro prospect: Hilton
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Hilton, 2) RB Jeremiah Harden, 3) C Brad Serini
Strength of the offense: Receivers, Quick Running Backs
Weakness of the offense: Offensive Line, Consistent Scoring
Projected Starter: Senior Wayne Younger is a tall, athletic passer who has struggled way too much whenever he has gotten his chances. At 6-3 and 190 pounds, he has good size and excellent mobility, running for 93 yards and a score in his nine games of work, but he only completed 38% of his throws for 257 yards and no touchdowns with four interceptions. Even with all his problems over the course of his career, he showed promise early on before breaking his collarbone in 2007. Now he looks sharper, stronger, and more in command of the offense. However, he has to show he can play after throwing ten career touchdown passes with 21 picks.
Projected Top Reserve: Former Mississippi State starter Wesley Carroll appeared to be a promising SEC quarterback after a strong freshman year, but the 6-1, 212-pounder lost his job after an inconsistent 2008. He struggled with his accuracy in the SEC but he had a few good moments, getting a mere one pass away from setting the NCAA record for the most throws in a row by a freshman without an interception (137). The Fort Lauderdale native transferred to FIU and has two years to show what he can do, but he needs to show he can be a steady passer. Mobile, he'll be a dual threat playmaker when he gets his chances, and now he'll have to keep the mistakes to a minimum to stay in the hunt for the job.
Watch Out For … Carroll. Younger isn't going to give up the job without a fight, and he was just good enough this offseason to be ready to finally make the job his, but if he starts throwing picks early on against a rough first month of games, the former SEC starter will quickly step in.
Strength: Mobility. Carroll isn't a speedster, but he's a tough runner who'll take off to get the hard yards. Younger's biggest asset is his ability to make something happen out of the pocket, and if he's the full-time starter, he'll finish in the top three on the team in rushing.
Weakness: Passing. Carroll might not throw too many interceptions, but he's way too inconsistent with his accuracy. Younger has completed just 45% of his career throws, and it's asking a lot to replace Paul McCall, who might not have been a bomber but he was accurate and relatively productive.
Outlook: FIU has to get steady play from the quarterbacks, and while Younger and Carroll can each make things happen with their athleticism, they have to prove they can make the Sun Belt's least efficient passing game serviceable. The two players are ballers, and while the stats might not always be pretty, they'll be dangerous (sometimes for both sides).
Unit Rating: 5
Projected Starters: For the moment, junior Darriet Perry is the team's No. 1 running back after finishing second on the team with 301 yards and three scores, but he's going to have to fight for time. He got a little bit of work throughout the first half of the season, but his biggest performance was just 79 yards on 21 carries against WKU, but he rumbled for two scores against ULM. While he wasn't much for the ground game, averaging just 2.9 yards per carry, he was a solid receiver catching 17 passes for 137 yards. A good recruit who spurned Illinois for the Golden Panthers, the 5-9, 200-pounder should be far better if he gets good blocking in front of him.
Projected Top Reserves: Looking ready to become a No. 1 back very soon is Syracuse transfer Jeremiah Harden , a 5-11, 190-pound sophomore who was terrific this offseason. While he didn't get any work for the Orange, he has the quickness and the home run hitting speed to be terrific in the open field. The Fort Lauderdale native might not be the starter right away, but he'll see more than his share of work.
Trying to find time as the third back in the mix is senior Trenard Turner , a 5-9, 205-pound speedster who was going to play a big role as both a runner and a special teamer two years ago before hurting his leg. As a freshman, he set the FIU record for the most receiving yards by a running back in one game with 84 against North Texas, but he only ran eight times for 21 yards and caught a pass for two yards.
Watch Out For … Harden. The Syracuse transfer can be used in a variety of ways and should be one of the team's most dangerous weapons. He might not be a workhorse, but he could be terrific for 15 touches a game as a big part of the rotation.
Strength: Speed and quickness. There's no power in the group, but Perry and Harden are speedsters while Turner can scoot. If they get room to move, they can crank out big plays in the open field … but that's a big if.
Weakness: Production. The leading rusher of last year, Daunte Owens, only ran for 376 yards with five touchdowns. FIU was last in the Sun Belt in rushing in 2008 and finished 107th in the nation. The Golden Panthers finished 107th and last in the league yet again averaging 104 yards per game.
Outlook: The FIU backfield not only has to overcome the loss of its leading rusher, Daunte Owens, but also third-leading rusher Kendall Berry, who led the team with six rushing scores. Berry was senselessly killed this spring, and now it's going to be an ultra-emotional season for the backs as they try to get over the tragedy. On the field, there's speed and promise with the addition of Harden, but the ground game hasn't produced in years and need a big push from the line to shine.
Unit Rating: 4.5
Projected Starters: Junior T.Y. Hilton emerged as a playmaker as a true freshman starting out his career with an impressive 41 catch season averaging 24.7 per grab. He wasn't as explosive averaging 11.1 yards per catch last year, but he was by far the team's leading receiver catching 57 passes for 632 yards and five scores. Also used as a runner, he gained 49 yards averaging 8.2 yards per carry, and now he's going to get the ball in his hands even more. He bulked up over the last two seasons going from a rail-thin target to 5-10 and 180 pounds, and he has held up surprisingly well considering he gets banged around. A blazer, he's deadly whenever he has the chance.
Turning into a nice complementary target over the years has been senior Greg Ellingson , a reliable 6-3, 200-pound veteran who finished second on the team catching 34 passes for 528 yards and four scores with a team-leading 15.5 yards per catch. Spurty early in his career, he was far more consistent last year highlighted by a five-catch, 132-yard, one score day. He's helped by all the attention paid to T.Y. Hilton.
Sophomore Junior Mertile had a strong true freshman season making 26 catches, but he was expected to shine and grow into a major factor last year but he suffered a knee injury and missed the entire season. Fortunately, the injury happened early enough to give him time to heal, and now he looks as quick as ever and more than fine as he resumes his career. At 6-0 and 180 pounds he has decent size and 4.5 speed with the skills to break off several big plays.
6-3, 235-pound junior Jonathan Faucher beefed up over the last year and now is more than just a big wideout working at tight end. He caught 11 passes for 96 yards and has the hands and skills to do even more. While he's not going to block anyone on a regular basis, he's a slippery target who can work his way into far more work.
Projected Top Reserves: Senior Jason Frierson stepped in when Junior Mertile went down and came through with 30 catches for 368 yards and two scores as the third leading receiver. A smallish, quick target at 5-9 and 185 pounds, the cousin of Frank Gore will move around to several spots where needed and could start whenever there's an opening.
At only 5-11 and generously listed at 180 pounds, sophomore Wayne Times is a thin rail of a receiver, but he has added muscle and should be a wee bit more physical. The former quarterback has 4.4 speed and tremendous upside after catching 19 passes for 234 yards and a score as a true freshman. He'll start out working behind T.Y. Hilton on the outside but he'll see plenty of action to get his athleticism on the field.
Combining forces at tight end with Jonathan Faucher is Dudley LaPorte , a 6-4, 250-pound blocker who came over from the JUCO ranks and was expected to b ea do-it-all playmaker. Instead, he broke his foot early on missed the rest of the year. Physical and with a nice combination of skills, he's a three down tight end who could flourish once he becomes a regular in the passing game.
Watch Out For … the tight ends. Throw in former star quarterback prospect Colt Anderson and the Golden Panthers have three good tight ends to work as more than just safety valves. The blocking might be mediocre, but the catches will come.
Strength: Veteran speedsters. Hilton is the No. 1 star, but Ellingson is a rock of a No. 2, Mertile is healthy, and Frierson is proven. Times has the wheels to do even more.
Weakness: The quarterbacks. This is a far better receiving corps than the numbers will show, and while Wayne Younger was far better this offseason and Wesley Carroll is a former SEC starter, it's not like there's a great passer to bomb away. The numbers might not be quite as strong without Paul McCall under center.
Outlook: The coaching staff has done a great job of making a weakness a strength over the last few years. Led by Hilton, this is a very deep, very athletic corps that should be even better with good tight ends to play around with. If the quarterbacks get time to work, and if they're consistent, the passing game should shine.
Unit Rating: 6
Projected Starters: Gone is the best player on the line, left tackle Andy Levine, and in steps junior James Wiggins , a 6-4, 270-pound athlete who has the feet and the quickness, but he doesn't have any experience. A strong pass blocking prospect, the spotlight will be on from the start even though it wasn't like Levine was a rock in pass protection.
Sophomore Giancarlo Revilla saw a little time in three games and now will take over at right guard for Mario Caraballo. The 6-2, 275-pounder was considered a good center prospect when he came in last year, and now the Miami native should be solid for the ground game for the next three years. He could move in the middle if needed.
Anchoring the line again is senior Brad Serini in the middle, a starter in every game has grown into the job and should be in the mix for all-honors. At 6-3 and 300 pounds, he's big, talented, and experienced enough to help a line that needs to not only be far better, but it also in transition. He's a mauler who can push tackles around a bit and isn't bad in pass protection.
Senior Cedric Mack was a JUCO All-America and a big-time recruit, and he started to show a little bit late in the season starting over the final month. At 6-4 and 320 pounds, the big right guard has the size and the skills to have had his choice of several BCS schools, but it took him a while before he got into the swing of things. He's a tough blocker who needs to be far better for the ground game.
6-6 , 305-pound sophomore Dave Istanich started six times last year working mostly at guard, but he's going to work mostly at tackle. Versatile, he's a big blocker who'll start for the next three years somewhere along the line, and he'll get the first look at right tackle taking over for Joe Alajajian. However, he has to prove he can pass block.
Projected Top Reserves: 6-2, 280-pound sophomore Rupert Bryan has bulked up over the last few years adding over 20 pounds while getting a few starts at tackle. Still trying to work as a pass protector, he's a strong prospect with nice skills in a rotation at right tackle, but he could see time on the left side if needed.
6-4, 285-pound sophomore Chris Cawthon saw starting time in his first year and was supposed to be a big part of the rotation last year, but he spent the year off recovering from an injury. He's a good-sized, athletic guard who will start to work a bit at right guard but can play on the left side, too. He's a run blocker who'll likely be a key starter next season.
Watch Out For … Wiggins. The pass protection was non-existent at times last year, but losing Andy Leavine, who's good enough to see time in a pro camp, hurts. Wiggins had better be ready to become a steady pass protector or the offense isn't going to take any big steps forward.
Strength: Size. In theory, the line should be better for the ground game with good bulk, especially on the right tide, and with just enough athleticism to move around a bit. The coaching staff has made a big push to upgrade the line, and eventually it all has to come together.
Weakness: Production. Last year was when everything was supposed to work for the line with all five starters returning, but injuries and inconsistency led to another bad year. The Golden Panthers finished 108th in the nation in sacks allowed and 107th (and last in the Sun Belt) for the ground game.
Outlook: The line was expected to be among the best in the Sun Belt last year with so much size and experience, but it stunk. The FIU quarterbacks have been getting flattened over the last few years, and it's not like things are going to get much better right away with so many new faces in the mix. There's little developed depth and there's a wing and a prayer hope that Wiggins can step in and shine at left tackle. Call this a year of development.
Unit Rating: 4.5
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