2008 Florida International (FIU) Golden Panthers Football Preview
Florida International Golden Panthers - Sun Belt
FIU 2007 Record: (1-11, 1-6)
2007 Bowl: none
FIU Head Coach: Mario Cristobal (1-11 at Florida International, 1-11 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Bill Legg
Defensive Coordinator: Phillip Galiano
Returning Leaders for the Golden Panthers:
Other Key Returnees: G Joe Alajajian, WR Elliott Dix, FB John Ellis, TE Erick Kirchenberg, DT Jarvis Penerton, C Brad Serini, LB Manny Wellington
Key Losses: DE Audric Adger, OT Roland Clarke, DT Cory Fleming, K Dustin Rivest, C Xavier Shannon, CB Lionel Singleton
There is plenty of bad news about Florida International, but the good news is that the Golden Panthers are coming off their best game in the last two seasons. Coach Mario Cristobal’s squad ended a 23 game losing streak winning their finale against North Texas. Most might not consider that momentum, but in this case it really is and Florida International will look to build upon it.
FIU's 2008 Strengths:
Unlike the offense, the defense was not too horrible last year. But the unit still ranked next to last in the conference giving up nearly 450 yards per game. Just five starters return, but that is a little misleading. The Golden Panthers defense has 11 other players returning who started at least two games. Part of that is just trying to find the right combination of players to make the defense work, but at least some players have experience. Junior linebacker Scott Bryant and corner Anthony Gaitor are the leaders of the unit and there are a lot of pieces to fill in around them.
FIU's 2008 Weaknesses:
The offense ranked 117 th in the nation in passing, 118 th in total offense and 119 th in scoring last year. Nine starters return, but the biggest news is new offensive coordinator Bill Legg. Legg, who was co-coordinator at Purdue, should add a few interesting twists to FIU’s spread offense. Sophomore quarterback Wayne Younger threw 17 interceptions and just nine touchdowns. And it was junior Paul McCall who played in the second half of Florida International’s win over UNT after Younger went down with an injury. Both quarterbacks have plenty of improving to do and finding a big time receiving threat would help.
The Bottom Line for the Golden Panthers of FIU:
The offense needs to start moving the ball if the Golden Panthers want to win more than one game. Running back A’mod Ned only garnered 581 yards on 143 carries as a junior and could lose his starting job to Julian Reams…who only averaged 3.3 yards per carry as a backup. If the running game does not improve, the passing game will not either and that only helps punter Chris Cook who set a school record with 75 punts last year.
2007 Team Stats for FIU:
Rushing Offense: 119.08 (98th in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 150.58 (117, 8)
Total Offense: 269.67 (118, 8)
Scoring Offense: 15.08 (119, 8)
Rushing Defense: 203.83 (105, 6)
Pass Defense: 243.58 (80, 6)
Total Defense: 447.42 (105, 7)
Scoring Defense: 39.08 (115, 7)
Turnover Margin: -1.25 (114, 8)
Sacks: 2.08 (60, 3)Sacks Allowed: 2.67 (97, 6)
By Joel Welser
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