It showed, as the Jayhawks blasted the Golden Panthers 55-3, putting up 615 yards of total offense in the process, while scoring on a blocked punt and an 108-yard interception return as well.
But that was last year. Mario Cristobal’s Golden Panthers
enter the game with a bit of momentum, some from a victory in the
team’s last game against North Texas, some from the return of
17 starters on offense and defense and some more from a recruiting
class that hit Miami and the surrounding areas hard. Cristobal and much
of his staff have ties to either the University of Miami, or Florida
at-large, so it should come as no surprise that FIU will try to tap
into that same area.
There’s also excitement surrounding the opening of a new,
on-campus stadium, the only on-campus FBS stadium south of Orlando. The
stadium will eventually hold more than 45,000.
On the field, the Golden Panthers will use multiple looks offensively.
The new defensive coordinator, Bill Legg, coached five seasons at
Purdue, including a stint as co-offensive coordinator for the past two
years. Last year, Purdue led the Big Ten in both total offense and
scoring offense, putting up close to 436 yards and more than 34 points
per game, utilizing a spread attack.
To have similar results, FIU will have to get stellar play out of one,
or both of its quarterbacks. Sophomore Wayne Younger served as the
starter last year up until he broke his collarbone. He led the team in
passing, and was second in rushing. Paul McCall came on in relief and
led the Golden Panthers to their lone victory of the season. Kansas
will likely see both Saturday night – Younger is more of a
runner, while McCall is a pocket passer.
They’ll have the luxury of handing off to a solid, and
experienced, one-two punch in Julian Reems and all-purpose talent
A’Mod Ned. Reems, listed as the starter, rushed for close to
300 yards last year, while Ned was near 600.
Despite returning multiple starters at receiver, including talented
6-foot-3 sophomore Greg Ellingson, FIU will upgrade in terms of
athleticism with sophomore Marquis Rolle and true freshmen Julian
Mertle and T.Y. Hilton, both from Miami. Also watch for Alonso
Phillips, a former walk-on safety and special teamer with track speed.
The offensive line has been inconsistent, though it does boast an award
candidate in Rimington Watch Lister Brad Serini at center. Andy Leavine
and Joe Alajajian are also returning starters.
Defensively, the Golden Panthers are led by a linebacking group that
returns starters Scott Bryant and Michael Dominguez on the outsides.
Scott Clawson will play in the middle, and will be backed up by Toronto Smith, who had seven tackles for loss last season. Bryant finished last
year with 91 tackles, including six in the backfield.
FIU will count on three returning starters on the defensive line,
including Daniel Chacreton, though the pass rush may be coming from
true freshmen Jonathan Jackson and Kambriel Willis. Cornerbacks Anthony Gaitor and Robert Mitchell return at both cornerback spots, though the
Panthers will have two new starters at safety, likely Ashlyn Parker and
Jeremiah Weatherspoon. Both weigh about 210 pounds.
Carlos Munera will both kick and punt, thanks to an injury to punter
Chris Cook. Weatherspoon and Reams will return kickoffs, while Gaitor
will bring back punts.
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