It is time for the FIU Panthers end of season review. The FIU Panthers have a bright future. They are 4-7 which is a 400% improvment from last season. They have bright local recruits who are stars on defense. They have found their starting quarterback in Grayson James. And, they have found a stable coach and front office after a turmoil, drama filled offseason. To recap, FIU posted an open head coaching job on the NCAA job board while Butch Davis was still the head coach. Davis abruptly resigned and went to the press saying that the football program was being sabotaged. Read the article here. The team had not beaten an Football Bowl Subdivision team since the University of Miami in 2018, only winning games against FCS teams. Now, Coach Mike McIntyre has the team headed in the right direction.
Defense end of season review
Coach MacIntyre’s expertise is on the defensive side of the ball. The defense has given up 37 points per game and 193 rushing yards per game. The middle linebacker position is solidified with Hallandale High school player Gaethan Bernadel. He has 91 total tackles on the season and looks to go past 100 total tackles. He is #2 in Conference USA in tackles. Not far behind is Junior linebacker Donovan Manuel who has 87 total tackles on the season. In the secondary, sophomore Andrew Volmar from American Heritage (Delray Beach) has six passes defended on the year and has an interception. Finally, Donovan Manuel and Shaun Peterson from Nova High school in Broward lead the team in tackles for loss. Peterson is the the team’s sack leader with five sacks. There are resources on the team to grow into a good defense.
Offense end of season review
Lexington Joseph from Miami Central High school in Miami is the top local star on the offense. Joseph has 680 yards from scrimmage this season (518 rushing, 162 receiving) with seven touchdowns. Grayson James was in a quarterback competition with Duke transfer Gunnar Holmberg at the start of the year. Holmberg won the job but then fell with an injury early in the season and Holmberg earned the job. His best overall game was against Louisiana Tech where he passed for 326 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. He had a four touchdown game at the start of the season to defeat Bryant University. The school’s receiving leader Tyrese Chambers had a solid senior season obviously receiving the bulk of the opposing defense’s attention. Kris Mitchell, a redshirt sophomore from Jacksonville, tied Chambers for the team lead with four touchdown catches. His best games were against Charlotte and Louisiana Tech where he posted the following stat lines: vs. Charlotte–8/84/1; vs. La. Tech–3/47/1.
Overall end of season review
Conference USA has had some explosive offenses this season. Of the Top 50 ranked offenses in the NCAA FBS, four teams from Conference USA were ranked (North Texas #12, UTSA #14, Western Kentucky #15, UAB #36). Five quarterbacks in Conference USA had over 20 touchdown passes (Austin Reed, WKU; Austin Aune, UNT; Frank Harris, UTSA; N’Kosi Perry, FAU; Chris Reynolds, UNC-C). All of these quarterbacks are seniors, redshirt seniors or graduates. Austin Aune is the only junior, so it is obvious that the offensive numbers will be less explosive next season, allowing the Panther defense to be more productive. In addition, with the mass exodus of teams leaving the conference next season (Charlotte, FAU, UNT, Rice, UAB, UTSA), the Panthers may propel themselves into the head of the conference. Of the teams that will be joining the conference, Jacksonville State and Liberty are the most competitive. Read about Liberty beating BYU here.
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