2013 FIU football's 10 things to know: Facts and wildcards

Robert Mayer-US PRESSWIRE

FIU earned quite a bit of bad press for firing Mario Cristobal after a single bad season, then taking a swing at Butch Davis and missing. New coach Ron Turner, however, inherits a squad that is interesting and athletic and has spent much of the last two years underachieving. Good luck figuring out what this team might do in 2013.

Confused? Check out the glossary here.

1. True:

Here is a list of things that are either true or mostly true.

  • Mario Cristobal was, in all, a rousing success at FIU, the best coach this young program has ever had. He took on a program that had gone 8-25 in three years at the FBS level and was coming off of an 0-12 campaign known mostly for a brawl. After a 1-11 season in his first year, he won eight games in Years 2 to 3 and 15 games in Years 4-5. He was a damn strong recruiter who took full advantage of FIU's South Florida location, and he built a base of athleticism at FIU that should fit in immediately in Conference USA.
  • Cristobal was fired after one bad season. In January 2012, Cristobal, one of the hottest young coaching prospects in the country, turned down the Rutgers job. A 3-9 year would have been considered a marginal success in the time before Cristobal arrived, but after a single poor season, one that featured quite a bit of bad turnovers luck among other things, Cristobal was let go. FIU athletic director Pete Garcia called the 2012 season a "total collapse," and while it was in a way ... it also wasn't. Expectations are important, yes?
  • Pete Garcia also once thought hiring Isiah Thomas as its head basketball coach was a good idea. You know, the same Isiah Thomas who, since his playing days ended, has left a path of destruction -- Toronto Raptors, Bob Costas, the CBA, Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, FIU, and maybe the Knicks again one day -- that makes him the sports version of a third-world dictator.
  • It seems FIU thought it could land Butch Davis, the architect of the early-2000s Miami powerhouses.
  • FIU didn't land Butch Davis.
  • Ron Turner went 4-19 in his final two seasons at Illinois. When FIU couldn't land Davis, it eventually zeroed in on Turner, a former college assistant at Pacific, Arizona, Northwestern, Pitt, Texas A&M, and Stanford who has spent most of the last two decades in the NFL, aside from an eight-year stint at Illinois that included just two winning seasons, an 0-11 campaign, and a 1-11 campaign. He was also fired as the Chicago Bears' offensive coordinator not too long ago.
  • FIU has been tied to a whipping post for most of the last four months for this series of moves.
  • "Whipping Post" is the best Southern rock song ever.

2. Also True:

  • You'd get tired of having to fight to keep your coach every year, too. Cristobal was linked to seemingly every open job over a two-year span, and while it was incredibly admirable that he stayed, he almost certainly wasn't going to stay too much longer. That he took an assistant coaching job with his alma mater Miami in January, then left it for a similar job at Alabama six weeks later, suggests he doesn't have a problem jumping when the right opportunity presents itself. And it would have eventually.
  • This might actually be a good time for some new blood. Yes, Cristobal's 2012 team was pretty unlucky, in ways we'll discuss below. But it was still a disappointment overall, with a loaded, experienced defense struggling to find fourth or fifth gear until later in the year, and with an offense loaded with star recruits (stars at a Sun Belt level, anyway) unable to overcome a couple of injuries (and with a ridiculously experienced offensive line playing ridiculously bad football). And while we're at it, the 2011 team was disappointing as well, going 7-6 after looking like a 10-win team, both on paper and in September. Cristobal loaded the cupboard but hadn't done a lot with it. That doesn't mean he should have been fired -- FIU deserves most of the flogging it received -- but it could mean that things work out pretty well for FIU if Turner can press the right buttons.
  • Turner won a conference title at Illinois, one of only three Illini titles in 50 years. No, he could not maintain success in Champaign. But who does? That Turner was able to craft even two good teams at Illinois suggests it is within the realm of possibility that he can do it again.
  • Pete Garcia also hired Richard Pitino. And Mario Cristobal. He has earned most of his bad reputation so far, but it does bear mentioning that he has made a couple of good hires, too. Pitino cleaned up quite a bit of Thomas' mess in a single season (before leaving to take the Minnesota job), and Cristobal turned FIU football into something after a few years of, basically, being nothing.

Turner inherits a FIU squad that a) has underachieved for two straight years, and b) has more raw athleticism and talent than much of its C-USA competition. Anything from 3-9 to 9-3 in 2013 won't surprise me.

2012 Schedule & Results

Record: 3-9 | Adj. Record: 6-6 | Final F/+ Rk: 89
Date Opponent Score W-L Adj. Score Adj. W-L
1-Sep Duke 26-46 L 24.5 - 36.9 L
8-Sep Akron 41-38 W 24.2 - 22.1 W
15-Sep Central Florida 20-33 L 24.7 - 26.2 L
22-Sep Louisville 21-28 L 33.3 - 23.3 W
29-Sep UL-Lafayette 20-48 L 18.6 - 31.5 L
4-Oct Arkansas State 20-34 L 21.6 - 30.4 L
13-Oct Middle Tennessee 30-34 L 29.5 - 31.2 L
20-Oct Troy 37-38 L 30.8 - 22.1 W
27-Oct Western Kentucky 6-14 L 24.2 - 19.7 W
3-Nov South Alabama 28-20 W 25.1 - 37.6 L
16-Nov Florida Atlantic 34-24 W 27.2 - 25.8 W
24-Nov UL-Monroe 17-23 L 20.4 - 12.3 W
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
Points Per Game 25.0 86 31.7 90
Adj. Points Per Game 25.3 90 26.6 54

3. The defense came around a little later than expected

Now, make no mistake: FIU's biggest problems were on the offensive side of the ball in 2012. Starting quarterback Jake Medlock missed three games (Adj. Points Per Game with Medlock: 27.1; without: 20.2), starting running back Kedrick Rhodes missed three games, and the Golden Panthers just couldn't ever generate any sort of offensive attack. This was to be expected to some degree, simply because of the loss of all-world receiver T.Y. Hilton following the 2011 season; but the injuries didn't help, and the complete and total collapse of the line was unexpected.

It also didn't help, though, that the defense wasn't quite as good as it could have been. A unit absolutely loaded with interesting seniors looked great late in the year (last five games: 23.5 Adj. PPG allowed) but was slightly below average at first (first seven games: 28.8 Adj. PPG allowed). And by the time it rallied, the damage to the 2012 campaign had already been done. FIU began the year 1-8 with four tight losses.

Offense

Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 77 104 103 103
RUSHING 82 101 107 102
PASSING 57 91 88 93
Standard Downs 108 88 112
Passing Downs 89 98 80
Redzone 87 41 108
Q1 Rk 80 1st Down Rk 105
Q2 Rk 102 2nd Down Rk 76
Q3 Rk 112 3rd Down Rk 106
Q4 Rk 86

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2013 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Comp Att Yards Comp
Rate
TD INT Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Jake Medlock 6'3, 220 Jr. *** (5.5) 152 263 2,127 57.8% 13 2 24 8.4% 6.9
E.J. Hilliard 6'2, 185 So. *** (5.5) 65 94 645 69.1% 4 3 13 12.1% 5.3
Loranzo Hammonds, Jr. 6'1, 200 So. ** (5.4) 1 6 20 16.7% 0 1 0 0.0% 3.3
Akil Dan-Fodio 6'3, 225 So. *** (5.5)








Favian Upshaw 6'2, 175 RSFr. *** (5.5)








4. Jake Medlock might be a bit too tough (or maybe his line was just terrible)

It isn't difficult to see why Jake Medlock gets hurt a lot: He doesn't exactly shy away from contact. Medlock injured his right shoulder late in 2011, fractured a foot and missed two games early in 2012, left the Western Kentucky game early with a head injury, and missed the final game because of his foot, too; while some of that might not be because of the number of hits he takes ... he does take a lot of hits. He was sacked 24 times in 287 pass attempts, and he rushed seven times per game outside of the sacks. He clearly doesn't avoid hits, even if some of them (the sacks) were not necessarily of his initiative.

When Medlock was down, Cristobal was forced to shuffle between a load of freshmen, all pretty highly-touted, none quite ready for action. E.J. Hilliard took even more sacks than Medlock (and didn't rush as well), and Loranzo Hammonds, Jr., was used mostly as a run threat (though he wasn't amazing at that). FIU's production depended on Medlock's health, and he was rarely healthy in 2012.

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Rushes Yards Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Carry
TD Adj.
POE
Kedrick Rhodes RB 5'11, 200 Sr. *** (5.5) 167 714 4.3 4.8 4 -19.4
Darian Mallary RB 104 463 4.5 5.0 9 -1.9
Jake Medlock QB 6'3, 220 Jr. *** (5.5) 63 375 6.0 6.2 3 +4.9
Jeremiah Harden RB 48 275 5.7 4.8 1 +4.7
E.J. Hilliard QB 6'2, 185 So. *** (5.5) 31 98 3.2 3.7 1 -4.0
Loranzo Hammonds, Jr. QB 6'1, 200 So. ** (5.4) 14 56 4.0 1.7 0 -1.2
Shane Coleman RB 5'6, 200 So. *** (5.5) 8 34 4.3 2.7 0 0.0

Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Yds/
Target
Target
Rate
%SD Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
Wayne Times WR 95 66 605 69.5% 6.4 27.1% 55.8% 6.3 72.6
Jacob Younger WR 49 25 404 51.0% 8.2 14.0% 51.0% 8.1 48.5
Willis Wright WR 6'1, 200 Sr. *** (5.5) 41 25 633 61.0% 15.4 11.7% 51.2% 15.5 76.0
Kedrick Rhodes RB 5'11, 200 Sr. *** (5.5) 26 19 235 73.1% 9.0 7.4% 42.3% 7.9 28.2
Glenn Coleman WR 6'2, 200 Sr. *** (5.6) 22 13 227 59.1% 10.3 6.3% 45.5% 10.7 27.3
Jairus Williams WR 6'5, 200 Sr. ** (5.2) 19 9 116 47.4% 6.1 5.4% 52.6% 5.7 13.9
Darian Mallary RB 18 13 102 72.2% 5.7 5.1% 50.0% 6.3 12.2
Nick England WR 14 8 87 57.1% 6.2 4.0% 78.6% 9.1 10.4
Ya'Keem Griner TE 6'5, 230 So. ** (5.2) 12 9 113 75.0% 9.4 3.4% 50.0% 9.5 13.6
Akil Dan-Fodio QB 6'3, 225 So. *** (5.5) 12 8 88 66.7% 7.3 3.4% 41.7% 7.0 10.6
T.J. Lowder WR 5'11, 185 So. ** (5.4) 8 5 72 62.5% 9.0 2.3% 50.0% 7.8 8.6
De'Andre Jasper WR 5'9, 200 So. *** (5.6) 5 4 41 80.0% 8.2 1.4% 40.0% 9.8 4.9
Zach Schaubhut TE 6'2, 230 Sr. NR 5 2 29 40.0% 5.8 1.4% 60.0% 5.8 3.5
Dominique Rhymes WR 6'4, 210 So. *** (5.5) 5 1 12 20.0% 2.4 1.4% 0.0% 1.2 1.4
Raymond Jackson WR 6'2, 210 So. *** (5.5) 4 1 5 25.0% 1.3 1.1% 0.0% 1.0 0.6
Johnnie Durante WR 6'0, 170 RSFr. *** (5.5)








5. The receiving corps is intriguing

FIU must replace 50 percent of last year's targets, which is a little scary until you realize that a lot of those targets were pretty unproductive. Wayne Times was a steady, efficient option for an offense that was mostly lacking of such a thing, but you can replace a guy who averaged 6.4 yards per target. Jacob Younger had his moments as the No. 2 receiver, but in seniors Willis Wright and Glenn Coleman, the Golden Panthers have two receivers who showed infinitely more upside, albeit in just 5.3 targets per game. The two carry a similar stature and combined for a 60 percent catch rate and a ridiculous 22.6 yards per catch. In fewer than half the targets, Wright outgained Times for the season, powered by a destructive three-game stretch: against Middle Tennessee, Troy, and Western Kentucky, Wright caught 14 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns. His quantity dropped off in November, but not his explosiveness; in three games, he caught five passes for 159 yards and three scores. He needs to become more of an every-down threat, but wow, the upside here is enormous.

If Wright can make the transition to The Man -- or, in Ron Turner parlance, if he can turn into FIU's Brandon Lloyd -- then the rest of FIU's skill position lineup takes shape nicely. Coleman should be a capable No. 2, and any number of former three-star recruits could conceivably step up and become a decent No. 3. As long as Medlock is upright and in one piece, that should lead to a solid passing game. The run game, however, is still a mystery. Kedrick Rhodes was unreliable last year, both in terms of health and production, and an all new offensive line could either be a blessing or a further curse.

Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 81.9 2.50 2.42 36.3% 65.2% 19.2% 53.4 6.6% 11.0%
Rank 119 115 117 89 79 69 121 96 113
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Career Starts/Honors/Notes
Caylin Hauptmann LT 37 career starts; 2012 2nd All-Sun Belt
Rubert Bryan, Jr. RT 43 career starts
Shae Smith C 23 career starts
Giancarlo Revilla RG 23 career starts
David Istanich LG 16 career starts
David Delsoin RG 6'6, 305 Jr. *** (5.5) 4 career starts
Jordan White LG 6'3, 310 Jr. ** (5.2) 3 career starts
Donald Senat C 6'2, 285 Jr. NR 1 career start
Aaron Nielsen LT 6'4, 270 So. ** (5.2)
Delmar Taylor OG 6'4, 290 Jr. *** (5.5)
Edens Sineace OT 6'5, 310 RSFr. *** (5.5)
Trenton Saunders OG 6'3, 275 RSFr. *** (5.5)

6. An awful line starts over

In 2011, FIU ranked 63rd in Adj. Line Yards and 33rd in Adj. Sack Rate. The Golden Panthers returned four starters from that line, line coach Alex Mirabal returned, and from what I can tell, there were no notable injuries suffered in 2012. And this line went from one of the better units at the mid-major level to being one of the worst in the country. FIU couldn't open big enough holes for its runners and couldn't protect the quarterback. I'm willing to believe that some of these line stats are on the skill position players -- Medlock probably needs to throw the ball away quicker, and Kedrick Rhodes needs to just be a better running back -- but, well, Rhodes was the running back in 2011, too, and Medlock was only sacked five percent of the time in 2011. This was one of the most disappointing units in the country, period.

In other words, it's a pretty good time to hit the reset button. FIU returns only eight career starts, and that might not even remotely be a bad thing. New line coach Steve Shankweiler is ridiculously experienced; he'll need to call on that experience quite a bit.

Defense

Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 67 49 29 67
RUSHING 37 56 49 64
PASSING 99 40 19 60
Standard Downs 35 23 49
Passing Downs 73 40 80
Redzone 115 107 114
Q1 Rk 16 1st Down Rk 29
Q2 Rk 71 2nd Down Rk 66
Q3 Rk 62 3rd Down Rk 41
Q4 Rk 50

7. FIU was super-aggressive in 2012

Again, the FIU defense wasn't bad last year; it's just that the expectations were quite high. For the season as a whole, FIU defended the run relatively well, but the Golden Panthers' calling card was on pass defense; they had one of the 20 most efficient pass defenses in the country, showing some cracks on passing downs but playing close to the line of scrimmage on standard downs. FIU corners logged six tackles for loss and defensed 23 passes in 2012; the aggressiveness wasn't just confined to the back line, however. Nine different linemen made at least 1.5 tackles for loss, slicing into the backfield with regularity against the run.

The D has more three-star players than a Sun Belt team is supposed to be able to recruit, and it showed. There was a potential discipline issue here, however, with the big plays allowed on passing downs, with the way the defense's performance fell off after the first quarter (and first down), and with the way it was basically a sieve in the red zone. New defensive coordinator Josh Conklin (the Citadel's defensive coordinator in 2010-11 and Tennessee's safeties coach in 2012) could have some fun here if he can cut down on the mistakes. That might be a tall order, of course, with a thinned-out depth chart.

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 98.9 2.73 3.69 36.8% 74.3% 22.0% 118.0 5.0% 5.6%
Rank 65 34 107 42 103 30 35 49 78
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Tourek Williams DE 12 37.5 5.9% 14.5 6.5 0 2 2 0
Greg Hickman DT 6'2, 280 Sr. *** (5.6) 12 26.0 4.1% 9 2 1 2 2 0
Isame Faciane DT 6'5, 295 Sr. ** (5.3) 12 23.0 3.6% 5.5 1 0 0 0 0
Giovani Francois DE 6'1, 250 Jr. *** (5.6) 12 17.5 2.7% 5.5 4.5 0 1 0 0
Andre Pound DT 12 15.0 2.3% 1.5 0.5 0 1 0 0
Paul Crawford DE 6'8, 275 Sr. ** (5.2) 12 12.5 2.0% 2.5 1.5 0 1 0 0
Joshua Forney DT 12 12.0 1.9% 2.5 1.5 0 2 0 1
Fadol Brown DT 6'4, 290 So. ** (5.3) 10 6.5 1.0% 2 1.5 0 1 0 0
Lars Koht DE 6'3, 255 So. ** (5.2) 7 3.5 0.5% 0.5 0 0 0 0 0
Darian Dyson DT 6'3, 315 So. *** (5.7) 4 2.0 0.3% 1.5 0 0 0 0 0
Marques Cheeks DT 6'3, 270 RSFr. *** (5.5)






Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Winston Fraser LB 12 63.5 9.9% 6.5 2 0 3 2 0
Jordan Hunt LB 12 59.0 9.2% 1.5 1 1 8 1 0
Kenneth Dillard LB 8 5.5 0.9% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Davison Colimon LB 6'1, 200 So. ** (5.4) 6 3.0 0.5% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Patrick Jean LB 6'3, 205 So. *** (5.6) 5 3.0 0.5% 0.5 0 0 0 0 0
Michael Wakefield LB 6'2, 235 So. ** (5.2) 10 2.5 0.4% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Derrick Jones, Jr. LB 8 1.0 0.2% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Leroy Owens LB 6'4, 210 RSFr. *** (5.5)






Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Johnathan Cyprien SS 12 73.5 11.5% 3.5 0 4 5 1 0
Sam Miller CB 5'10, 180 Sr. ** (5.4) 12 50.0 7.8% 4 2 1 5 1 1
Chuck Grace FS 12 48.0 7.5% 1 0 2 3 0 0
Richard Leonard CB 5'10, 170 Jr. *** (5.6) 12 47.0 7.3% 1 0 0 7 0 1
Jose Cheeseborough CB 12 42.0 6.6% 0 0 1 5 0 1
Justin Halley FS 6'1, 190 Jr. *** (5.5) 12 26.0 4.1% 1 0 0 4 0 1
Junior Mertile CB 12 12.5 2.0% 0 0 0 3 0 0
Demarkus Perkins SS 6'0, 205 Jr. NR 10 10.0 1.6% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Jeremiah McKinnon CB 6'0, 175 So. *** (5.5) 11 9.5 1.5% 0 0 0 1 1 1
Tevin Blanchard CB 12 9.5 1.5% 1 0 0 0 0 0
Terrance Taylor SS 6'0, 190 Sr. ** (5.2) 8 6.0 0.9% 1 0 0 0 0 0
Mitch Wozniak SS 6'3, 205 Jr. ** (5.2) 7 1.5 0.2% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Deonte Wilson CB 6'0, 190 RSFr. *** (5.5)

Adrian Jenkins SS 6'2, 210 RSFr. *** (5.5)

Xavier Hines DB 6'0, 175 Fr. *** (5.6)

Vontarius West DB 6'0, 180 Fr. *** (5.6)

8. Replacing Tourek and Cyprien

Both end Tourek Williams and safety Johnathan Cyprien should get selected reasonably high in this month's NFL Draft. By all accounts, Cyprien had a fantastic week at the Senior Bowl and did perfectly well at the combine. He made plays all over the field in 2012 for FIU, defensing nine passes (he had four picks and was apparently the only FIU player who could actually hold onto the ball when he got a hand on it) and logging 3.5 tackles for loss. Williams, meanwhile, was the most aggressive and effective lineman on a pretty aggressive and effective line.

Cristobal is a great recruiter, but did he recruit well enough in Miami to put FIU in position to replace two players of this magnitude?

9. Replacing everybody else

Of the 23 defensive returnees listed above, 13 are former three-star recruits according to Rivals.com. That's better than a good majority of Conference USA teams. Nine of those 13, however, are either freshmen, redshirt freshmen, or sophomores. If these players live up to their recruiting rankings, the foundation for this FIU defense is strong in the coming years. But in the short-term, inexperience could be an issue; four of the top seven defensive backs, each of the top three linebackers, and three of the top seven linemen are gone. The high-upside youth will be getting thrown into the deep end pretty early.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Josh Brisk 47 40.0 1 23 12 74.5%
Jack Griffin 18 40.0 0 4 4 44.4%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB TB%
Jack Griffin 59 62.5 29 49.2%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2013
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Jack Griffin 33-36 8-11 72.7% 1-5 20.0%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Richard Leonard KR 5'10, 170 Jr. 26 29.2 1
De'Andre Jasper KR 5'9, 200 So. 16 22.5 0
Sam Miller KR 5'10, 180 Sr. 6 24.2 0
Wayne Times PR 12 6.6 0
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 107
Net Punting 94
Net Kickoffs 20
Touchback Pct 18
Field Goal Pct 112
Kick Returns Avg 18
Punt Returns Avg 73

2013 Schedule & Projection Factors

2012 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. Rk
31-Aug at Maryland 75
7-Sep Central Florida 54
14-Sep Bethune-Cookman NR
21-Sep at Louisville 33
5-Oct at Southern Miss 87
12-Oct UAB 105
26-Oct Louisiana Tech 89
2-Nov East Carolina 81
9-Nov at Middle Tennessee 98
16-Nov at UTEP 108
23-Nov Marshall 79
30-Nov at Florida Atlantic 116
Five-Year F/+ Rk 91
Two-Year Recruiting Rk 82
TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin* -4 / +8.1
TO Luck/Game -5.0
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 8 (5, 3)
Yds/Pt Margin** +2.6

10. A total wildcard

Seriously, what should one make of this team? We know that Ron Turner has both some success and a lot of failure on his head coaching resume, but we also know that Turner's head coaching experience ended nearly a decade ago. We know that Jake Medlock is a pretty strong quarterback when healthy, but we also know that he's rarely healthy. We know that a terribly inexperienced offensive line is a bad thing, but we also know that you can't get much worse than last year's FIU line. We know that this defense has a lot of former star recruits on it, but we know that most of those star recruits aren't that far removed from being recruited. We know that the schedule features nine teams projected 79th or worse in the F/+ projections, but we also know both that FIU itself was only 89th last year, and that the beginning of the season features three Top 75 opponents.

This really might be a perfect year for a new coach to take over a blank canvas that has a lot of interesting features, like Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M last year. But ... is Ron Turner a Kevin Sumlin?

In This Article

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