College Football Preview: The 2015 Florida International Golden Panthers
Florida International Golden Panthers Preview
2014 Record: 4-8
The Florida International Golden Panthers look to a mostly experienced core of players to generate wins in close games.
Overview: It was a strange season for Florida International as they were 0-4 in one possession games to finish 4-8. They were outscored 25-23 and even though the defense had some issues late in the year it’s obvious the real problem was moving the football and finding the end zone.
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Offense: The offensive struggles began under center where Alex McGough threw for 1,680 with 14 scores and ten interceptions but his 50.4% completion rate was a killer so Luke Medlock or Christian Alexander could end up being the starter when all is said and done. The ground game consisted of Alex Gardner (139-562) and Anthon Samuel (132-582) hitting the line of scrimmage and looking for some running room with both averaging under 4.5 yards. Jonnu Smith is the lone returning threat at receiver with 688 yards on 61 catches while Michigan State transfer Juwan Caesar was a three star recruit. Three starters are back on the O-Line and the roster is loaded with great size so this unit should have some push in the rushing attack.
Defense: The defensive line returns the majority of the major contributors with ends Michael Wakefield and Denzell Perine recording 24 TFL and 14.5 sacks along with six forced fumbles. The guys up front were good at pressuring the passer but when opponents needed to pick up yards on the ground they did. Every player that saw the field at linebacker returns with Davison Colimon making the most plays with eight TFL including four sacks and an interception. The best way to describe the Florida International secondary is they are cornerback heavy and light at safety and safety play was the key to the pass defense in 2014.
Special Teams: Jose Laphitzondo and Chris Ayers platoon at punter with the latter used for short ‘directional’ kicks to pin opponents down in their own territory. Austin Taylor was 15-21 on field goals and 4-6 on 40+ yard attempts so he has a strong leg while Richard Leonard is a dangerous returner with a punt return for a score in 2014.
Outlook: Florida International is a team that has potential to win more games if the quarterback situation is stabilized and a reasonable passing attack is established. However I think there are enough ifs to on the roster where the play on the field improves, stays the same or regresses and I don’t know which we’ll see.