PRESENTED BY 669248957_logo

The big 2014 FIU football preview: Long crawl back to competence

FIU has fallen apart quickly, but there is no quick way to rebound from the level of ineptitude the Golden Panthers showed last fall. In Ron Turner's second year, the goal simply has to be planting the seeds for competence in 2015 or 2016.

SB Nation 2014 College Football Countdown

Confused? Check out the advanced-stats glossary here.

1. It was barely two years ago

In September 2011, Florida International won at Louisville on a Friday night, then took down UCF at home the next weekend. The Golden Panthers were receiving AP poll votes, and receiver T.Y. Hilton was becoming a bit of a household name, at least among college football-obsessed households.

FIU faded a bit, losing three Sun Belt Conference games (two by a combined six points) and falling out of the conference title race. Marshall would pull an upset of the Golden Panthers in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, and FIU would finish a disappointing 8-5.

Still, the fact that 8-5 was disappointing was an incredibly positive sign. The team's primary rival, Florida Atlantic, was wrapping up an 1-11 campaign and looking for a new coach. Hilton was leaving for the pros, sure, but head coach Mario Cristobal was signing quite a few three-star recruits, and the future was still looking bright for a program so moribund as recently as 2007.

Two years later, FAU was 6-6, Louisville and UCF were a combined 24-2, and FIU was 1-11. In 2013, these three teams beat FIU by a combined score of 131-6.

The Golden Panthers lost five games by a touchdown or less in 2012, and with the athletic director already tired of Cristobal's flirtation with other schools, they fired him. They whiffed on hiring Butch Davis and instead replaced Cristobal with former Illinois head coach Ron Turner. And while you never want to render permanent judgments on a coaching hire after just one year (here's where we're legally required to mention that South Carolina went 0-11 in Lou Holtz's first season in 1999, then went 17-7 over the next two years), it's almost impossible for 2013 to have gone any worse for FIU, in terms of on-the-field play, public relations, etc.

In just two years, FIU went from a disappointing 8-5 to a complete catastrophe. By default, it probably won't get worse in 2014, but is there any chance of getting better?

2. Somehow, 2011 New Mexico was worse

In 2013, FIU scored 10 or fewer points eight times and never score more than 24. The Golden Panthers allowed 33 or more points eight times and only once allowed fewer than 23. They averaged better than 4.7 yards per play just once and allowed under 5.5 per play only twice. They gained 27 total yards against Louisville and allowed 558 to Marshall.

FIU's first four games of 2013 were among the worst ever played by an FBS team. In the end, perhaps the biggest surprise of the season was that FIU wasn't the worst team of the F/+ era (2005-13) and almost wasn't even the worst team in 2013. Somehow 2011 New Mexico, with a defense that was even worse than FIU's offense, still manages to squeak out the overall title.

WORST FBS TEAMS ACCORDING TO F/+ (2005-13)
1086. 2011 New Mexico (-44.4%, 1-11)
1085. 2013 FIU (-42.5%, 1-11)
1084. 2013 Eastern Michigan (-42.1%, 2-10)
1083. 2008 Washington State (-37.2%, 2-11)
1082. 2009 Washington State (-37.1%, 1-11)
1081. 2013 Miami (Ohio) (-36.5%, 0-12)
1080. 2010 New Mexico State (-36.3%, 2-10)
1079. 2008 North Texas (-36.0%, 1-11)
1078. 2012 Colorado (-36.0%, 1-11)
1077. 2011 Memphis (-35.9%, 2-10)

Teams that fall this far don't tend to recover under the same coach. That it was only Turner's first year offers some consolation, but not much.

2013 Schedule & Results

Record: 1-11 | Adj. Record: 0-12 | Final F/+ Rk: 125
Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Score W-L Adj. Score Adj. W-L 5-gm Adj. Avg.
31-Aug at Maryland 63 10-43 L 8.1 - 43.2 L
6-Sep Central Florida 21 0-38 L 5.0 - 28.6 L
14-Sep Bethune-Cookman N/A 13-34 L 11.9 - 38.1 L
21-Sep at Louisville 12 0-72 L (-8.5) - 44.1 L
5-Oct at Southern Miss 120 24-23 W 21.2 - 27.8 L -28.8
12-Oct UAB 115 24-27 L 16.3 - 31.7 L -24.9
26-Oct Louisiana Tech 112 7-23 L 11.5 - 25.7 L -23.0
2-Nov East Carolina 40 13-34 L 21.2 - 32.0 L -19.9
9-Nov at Middle Tennessee 85 0-48 L 21.8 - 41.1 L -13.3
16-Nov at UTEP 119 10-33 L 5.5 - 42.6 L -19.4
23-Nov Marshall 52 10-48 L 14.6 - 35.4 L -20.4
29-Nov at Florida Atlantic 73 6-21 L 9.3 - 39.7 L -23.7
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk Spec. Tms. Rk
F/+ -24.0% 124 -13.3% 114 -5.3% 119
Points Per Game 9.8 124 37.0 112
Adj. Points Per Game 11.5 125 35.8 114

3. Never an ounce of hope

It's just piling on at this point, but there's one more thing I have to point out before we move on: FIU's offensive performance against Louisville may have been the single worst FBS offensive performance of the last nine seasons. It's not uncommon for an Adjusted Score to drop into the negative range; teams' single-game S&P+ performances are applied to a general curve reflecting the real scoring curve, and, well, sometimes a single performance is really, really bad. But it takes a lot to get to minus-8.5 adjusted points.

In 43 plays, FIU gained 27 yards. The Panthers attempted 13 passes, completed four for 27 yards and got sacked four times for a loss of 33. FIU's leading rusher carried 14 times for 12 yards. FIU got the ball 13 times, punted 11 times (with nine three-and-outs) and ran out the clock twice. For good measure, they also muffed a punt. This wasn't a turnover-laden disaster ... this was worse. A no-ambition, no-hope experiment in running out the clock from the opening kickoff.

A big, fat minus-8.5 will certainly affect your averages, but FIU's averages were abhorrent even without the Louisville game. Louisville just made it historically bad.

Adj. Points Per Game (first 4 games): Opponent 38.5, FIU 4.1 (minus-34.4)
Adj. Points Per Game (next 5 games): Opponent 31.7, FIU 18.4 (minus-13.3)
Adj. Points Per Game (last 3 games): Opponent 39.2, FIU 9.8 (minus-29.4)

There was a bit of a rally in the middle of the season. FIU gained more than 250 yards in a game only four times (!), but three came in a four-game span between October 5 and November 2. FIU was able to knock off Southern Miss and stayed quite competitive against UAB and Louisiana Tech, but the bottom dropped out late. The combined (real) score of the last four games of the season: Opponent 150, FIU 26.

Now, as promised, we move on.

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.00 117 IsoPPP+ 87.2 123
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 30.5% 124 Succ. Rt. + 70.7 125
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 32.9 109 Def. FP+ 93.4 121
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 2.4 125 Redzone S&P+ 71.0 121
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 19.3 ACTUAL 20 +0.7
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 125 125 126 125
RUSHING 122 126 126 126
PASSING 118 124 122 119
Standard Downs 125 126 96
Passing Downs 125 124 126
Q1 Rk 126 1st Down Rk 126
Q2 Rk 111 2nd Down Rk 124
Q3 Rk 126 3rd Down Rk 126
Q4 Rk 123

4. A slow rebuild

To Ron Turner's credit, he doesn't seem to be panicking after such an awful first year, at least not when it comes to on-field personnel. He shook up his staff quite a bit, and justifiably so; offensive line coach Steve Shankweiler was promoted to offensive coordinator, and new assistants were brought in to coach running backs (Kerry Dixon II from Florida Atlantic), defensive line (Randy Melvin from the Buccaneers), linebackers (Rob Harley from Michigan State), and special teams (Shannon Moore from South Dakota State).

FIU's 2014 recruiting class, however, was entirely focused on high school talent. Turner didn't aim for quick-fix junior college transfers, as did Paul Petrino at Idaho or Bill Clark at UAB. There were no three-star signees this year (according to Rivals) as opposed to previous years, but there were quite a few high-two-star recruits at running back, receiver, offensive line, and linebacker. Sticking with four- or five-year talent means your base of depth and experience can be pretty strong by year three or four. It also means that you're probably not going to be much better in year two. The players who played a major role in last year's struggles will still be the faces of the program in 2014.

There will be a new face at quarterback, however. Primary starter Jake Medlock transferred, leaving the job to probably E.J. Hilliard, who showed decent mobility (5.3 yards per non-sack carry) but struggled in the passing game. He took a sack on almost every five attempts and averaged just 10 yards per completion. He didn't have any help, however. If youngsters can push returnees like Lamarq Caldwell and Silas Spearman III at running back or T.J. Lowder and Clinton Taylor at wideout, that can't be a bad thing. Hell, Hilliard could end up getting a severe push from a freshman like Alex McGough as well.

Overall, the experience level is pretty strong for this offense in 2014; if nothing else, that's a reminder that FIU was quite young last year. Experience will bring at least a little bit of improvement, at least if Shankweiler's scheme fits the personnel to some degree.

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2014 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp
Rate
Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Jake Medlock


75 159 922 4 6 47.2% 24 13.1% 4.1
E.J. Hilliard 6'3, 185 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 77 132 775 3 4 58.3% 28 17.5% 3.6
Alex McGough 6'3, 215 Fr. 2 stars (5.4)
Luke Medlock 6'1, 200 Fr. 2 stars (5.4)

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Carry
Opp.
Rate
Lamarq Caldwell RB 6'0, 215 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 144 542 1 3.8 2.7 32.6%
Silas Spearman III RB 5'8, 195 So. 2 stars (5.4) 132 368 4 2.8 3.6 22.0%
Jake Medlock QB


36 184 0 5.1 2.8 61.1%
Alfonso Randolph RB 5'11, 185 So. 2 stars (5.2) 26 56 0 2.2 2.1 30.8%
E.J. Hilliard QB 6'3, 185 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 21 112 0 5.3 4.5 38.1%
Shane Coleman RB 5'6, 195 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 11 34 0 3.1 2.1 18.2%
De'Andre Jasper WR 5'10, 195 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 10 18 0 1.8 1.3 30.0%
Talir Satterfield-Rowe RB


10 40 0 4.0 4.0 30.0%
Napoleon Maxwell RB 6'0, 190 Fr. 2 stars (5.4)
Alex Gardner RB 5'9, 183 Fr. 2 stars (5.4)




Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target
Rate
%SD Yds/
Target
NEY Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
T.J. Lowder WR 5'11, 180 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 63 24 307 38.1% 22.7% 57.7% 4.9 -85 4.9 35.4
Jonnu Smith TE 6'2, 225 So. 2 stars (5.2) 53 39 388 73.6% 19.1% 70.3% 7.3 -54 7.2 44.8
Ya'Keem Griner TE 6'4, 235 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 32 14 158 43.8% 11.5% 58.3% 4.9 -52 6.0 18.2
Clinton Taylor WR 5'10, 170 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 31 19 238 61.3% 11.2% 60.0% 7.7 2 8.1 27.5
Dominique Rhymes WR 6'4, 210 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 24 11 134 45.8% 8.6% 61.1% 5.6 -26 4.0 15.5
Glenn Coleman (2012) WR 6'2, 200 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 22 13 227 59.1% 6.3% 45.5% 10.3 N/A 10.7 N/A
Rockey Vann WR 18 7 137 38.9% 6.5% 30.8% 7.6 24 10.6 15.8
Lamarq Caldwell RB 6'0, 215 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 15 13 104 86.7% 5.4% 40.0% 6.9 -33 6.8 12.0
Fred Porter WR 6'3, 210 Jr. NR 12 8 92 66.7% 4.3% 37.5% 7.7 -3 5.6 10.6
De'Andre Jasper WR 5'10, 195 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 7 5 31 71.4% 2.5% 0.0% 4.4 -27 2.7 3.6
Shug Oyegunle WR 5'9, 185 So. 2 stars (5.3) 7 4 14 57.1% 2.5% 100.0% 2.0 -38 1.7 1.6
Cory White TE 6'6, 260 Sr. NR 4 1 15 25.0% 1.4% 100.0% 3.8 -7 4.2 1.7
Silas Spearman III RB 5'8, 195 So. 2 stars (5.4) 3 2 35 66.7% 1.1% 0.0% 11.7 11 5.2 4.0
Richard Burrows WR 6'4, 195 Jr. NR 1 1 6 100.0% 0.4% N/A 6.0 -4 0.0 0.7
Jonathan Pavlov TE 6'4, 235 RSFr. 2 stars (5.3)
Jarviel Hart WR 5'10, 165 Fr. 2 stars (5.4)









Dennis Turner WR 5'11, 175 Fr. 2 stars (5.4)









Chett LeVay TE 6'3, 195 Fr. 2 stars (5.4)









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 81.8 2.25 2.87 31.2% 58.3% 24.7% 38.9 12.8% 17.8%
Rank 122 125 103 125 107 122 125 126 124
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Career Starts Honors/Notes
David Delsoin LT 6'6, 305 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 16
Donald Senat C 6'2, 285 Sr. NR 14
Jordan Budwig LG 6'4, 325 So. 2 stars (5.4) 12
Jordan White RG


12
Aaron Nielsen RT 6'4, 275 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 12
Trenton Saunders OG 6'4, 275 So. 3 stars (5.5) 3
Dieugot Joseph LT 6'6, 270 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0
Delmar Taylor LG 6'4, 300 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0
Michael Montero C 6'2, 285 Sr. NR 0
Byron Pinkston RG 6'3, 300 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0
Yousif Khoury RT 6'6, 300 Sr. NR 0
Edens Sineace OT 6'5, 305 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0
Chris Flaig OG 6'5, 304 Fr. 2 stars (5.4)
Kai Absheer OL 6'5, 310 Fr. 2 stars (5.4)
Josh Deuyour OL 6'9, 325 Fr. 2 stars (5.4)
Chris Miller OL 6'3, 285 Fr. 2 stars (5.4)

5. No excuses up front

The offensive line features two seniors and four former three-star recruits. Heading into 2013, FIU returned just nine career starts up front, which helped to produce predictably hopeless results. But of the six players who started a game last year, five are back, and the career starts total has risen to 57. So now there's experience and a potentially high(ish) ceiling. The offensive line absolutely has to become a more reliable presence for the offense this fall.

Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.30 116 IsoPPP+ 90.4 112
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 45.4% 97 Succ. Rt. + 88.4 103
FIELD POSITION Off. Avg. FP 29.6 79 Off. FP+ 96.5 96
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.7 107 Redzone S&P+ 81.3 116
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 15.7 ACTUAL 13.0 -2.7
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 94 110 103 89
RUSHING 100 113 111 117
PASSING 54 106 76 39
Standard Downs 116 106 118
Passing Downs 74 66 66
Q1 Rk 111 1st Down Rk 119
Q2 Rk 123 2nd Down Rk 95
Q3 Rk 93 3rd Down Rk 73
Q4 Rk 56

6. The pass defense wasn't too bad!

It was really difficult to find a positive spin for last season's offensive numbers. It's not quite as difficult for the defense. The Golden Panthers certainly struggled to stop the run or leverage opponents into obvious passing situations, but when they got there, they defended the pass and rushed the passer reasonably well.

Granted, only two FIU defenders had more than two sacks, and both are gone. But the secondary looks strong, and there are quite a few former three-star recruits up front. The linebacking corps has a lot of questions to answer, but it's fair to say the defense will come around before the offense does.

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 94.9 2.95 3.94 39.9% 80.6% 18.8% 84.8 3.9% 6.5%
Rank 83 66 118 73 119 69 93 77 70
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Isame Faciane DT 12 42.5 6.9% 11.5 2.5 0 2 0 0
Greg Hickman DT 12 37.5 6.0% 9.5 3.0 0 0 3 0
Michael Wakefield DE 6'3, 245 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 12 28.5 4.6% 6.0 2.0 0 0 0 0
Denzell Perine DE 6'3, 245 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 12 26.5 4.3% 2.0 1.5 0 1 0 0
Lars Koht DT 6'5, 265 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 11 16.0 2.6% 2.0 1.0 0 0 0 0
Giovani Francois DE 6'2, 255 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 8 14.0 2.3% 3.0 2.0 0 0 0 0
Leonard Washington DT 6'0, 290 So. 2 stars (5.4) 11 9.5 1.5% 1.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Darrian Dyson DT 6'4, 300 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 10 9.5 1.5% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Wonderful Monds II DE 6'0, 220 Jr. 2 stars (5.4)
Imarjaye Albury DT 6'0, 295 So. 3 stars (5.6)
Marques Cheeks DT 6'3, 265 So. 3 stars (5.5)
Jermaine Sheriff DE 6'2, 225 Fr. 2 stars (5.4)






7. Rebuilding at tackle

Of the 10 linemen listed above, five were three-star recruits (including WVU transfer Imarjaye Albury), and three were high two-stars. There is upside here, and last year's not-completely-awful line stats reflect some of that. FIU was a pushover in short-yardage situations but did a decent job of both getting into the backfield and preventing open-field opportunities. (That FIU's overall rushing stats were a lot worse than its line stats generally suggests some deficiencies at linebacker.)

Upside or not, it's never particularly good to lose both of your starting tackles, especially when they combined for 21 tackles for loss on a team starved for big plays. Five different returnees logged at least 1.5 TFLs in somewhat limited opportunities, and that's encouraging, but Isame Faciane and Greg Hickman were perhaps the defense's two best play-makers, and both are gone.

Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Markeith Russell MLB 12 78.5 12.7% 5.5 0.5 0 3 1 0
Luis Rosado MLB 6'2, 225 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 12 35.0 5.6% 1.5 0.0 0 1 0 0
Derrick Jones, Jr. OLB 10 26.5 4.3% 2.0 0.0 1 0 1 0
Davison Colimon OLB 6'1, 200 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 7 19.0 3.1% 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Patrick Jean OLB 6'3, 205 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 9 13.5 2.2% 2.5 1.5 0 0 0 0
Treyvon Williams MLB 5'11, 230 So. 2 stars (5.3) 12 12.0 1.9% 0.5 0.0 0 0 1 0
De'Shawn Hazziez OLB 6'2, 200 So. NR 11 10.0 1.6% 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Caleb Vincent OLB 6'2, 225 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 12 6.0 1.0% 0.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Jordan Gibbs LB 6'1, 235 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4)
Jeremy Derrick LB 6'2, 180 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4)
Anthony Wint LB 6'0, 210 Fr. 2 stars (5.4)
Fred Russ LB 5'10, 220 Fr. 2 stars (5.4)
Bobby Stinson DB 6'0, 175 Fr. 2 stars (5.4)
Tyree Johnson DB 5'9, 175 Fr. 2 stars (5.4)






Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Richard Leonard (2012) CB 5'9, 170 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 12 47.0 7.3% 1 0 0 7 0 1
Justin Halley S 6'3, 200 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 12 46.0 7.4% 1 0 3 8 2 0
Jordan Davis S 6'2, 210 So. 2 stars (5.4) 12 37.5 6.0% 1 0 0 1 0 0
Randy Harvey CB 5'8, 170 Sr. NR 12 36.0 5.8% 0 0 1 4 0 0
Sam Miller CB 9 28.5 4.6% 3 0 2 4 0 0
Demarkus Perkins S 6'0, 215 Sr. NR 8 27.0 4.4% 2 0 0 4 1 0
Wilkenson Myrtil CB 6'0, 190 So. 2 stars (5.4) 10 9.5 1.5% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Brad Hyman-Muhammad CB


7 8.5 1.4% 0 0 0 2 0 0
Sam Gervais CB 5'10, 185 Sr. NR 11 6.5 1.0% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Deonte Wilson S 6'0, 195 So. 3 stars (5.5) 9 6.5 1.0% 0 0 0 1 0 0
Jeremiah McKinnon CB 6'0, 185 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 5 4.0 0.6% 0 0 0 0 1 0
Mitch Wozniak S 9 4.0 0.6% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Terrance Taylor S 7 3.5 0.6% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Xavier Hines CB 5'11, 185 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6)
Vontarius West S 5'11, 200 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6)
Mark Bruno DB 5'10, 170 Fr. 2 stars (5.4)

8. A glimmer of hope in the secondary

Richard Leonard was a steady corner for Cristobal's 2012 squad, but he was academically ineligible last fall. His return does lovely things for FIU's depth in the defensive backfield. He and safety Justin Halley are both seniors with ball-hawking tendencies, and of the five DBs who logged at least 10 tackles last year, four return. Plus, last year's star recruits Xavier Hines and Vontarius West could play a role.

If a pair of new starting tackles settles in, and the linebackers play competent ball, the secondary could lead a nice surge in the defensive ratings. But those are two relatively large ifs.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Chris Ayers 6'0, 175 So. 50 35.4 1 21 7 56.0%
Jake Medlock

36 42.6 2 3 11 38.9%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Austin Taylor 5'8, 160 So. 19 58.4 4 0 21.1%
Sergio Sroka 6'1, 175 So. 16 55.4 0 1 0.0%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2014
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Austin Taylor 5'8, 160 So. 11-12 5-5 100.0% 3-7 42.9%
Sergio Sroka 6'1, 175 So. 1-1 1-2 50.0% 0-0 N/A
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Clinton Taylor KR 5'10, 170 Jr. 14 20.5 0
De'Andre Jasper KR 5'10, 195 Jr. 8 21.3 0
Sam Miller PR 8 13.1 0
Clinton Taylor PR 5'10, 170 Jr. 8 6.0 0
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 119
Field Goal Efficiency 68
Punt Return Efficiency 111
Kick Return Efficiency 118
Punt Efficiency 58
Kickoff Efficiency 123
Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency 25

9. A creative (and effective) punting arrangement

Midway through the 2013 season, quarterback Jake Medlock overtook Chris Ayers on the punting two-deep; he proceeded to bomb away with a 42.6-yard average for the season. Ayers was a fair-catch machine, however, and if he can add a bit more to his average, the punting should be a relatively decent field position weapon again in 2014, even without Medlock. Fellow sophomore Austin Taylor was strong under 40 yards last year as well, so that position isn't a concern.

Of course ... the rest of the special teams unit needs some cleaning up. Touchbacks were non-existent on kickoffs, and the return game was a bit of a disaster. You can mask a lot of deficiencies with solid special teams play, but FIU's special teams unit wasn't nearly good enough overall in 2013.

2014 Schedule & Projection Factors

2014 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. Rk
30-Aug Bethune-Cookman NR
6-Sep Wagner NR
13-Sep Pittsburgh 43
20-Sep Louisville 20
27-Sep at UAB 115
4-Oct Florida Atlantic 103
11-Oct at UTSA 75
18-Oct Marshall 59
1-Nov Rice 88
8-Nov at Old Dominion NR
15-Nov Middle Tennessee 99
22-Nov at North Texas 94
Five-Year F/+ Rk -16.4% (106)
Two-Year Recruiting Rk 99
TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin* -7 / -3.7
TO Luck/Game -1.4
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 16 (9, 7)

10. It ... won't get worse?

FIU returns most of last year's first- and second-string, and Ron Turner used a few mulligans by bringing in some new assistants. The schedule features eight home games (a major rarity for mid-major teams) and two FCS opponents (including, yes, the same one that whipped FIU by 21 last year). The table is set for improvement, both for the reasons listed above and for the simple fact that FIU almost literally cannot get worse. The other nine teams on the Worst list atop this piece were all so bad that they had no choice but to improve the next season, and that's certainly what will happen here.

It's hard to get too optimistic, though, isn't it? The Turner hire seemed shaky to start with, and despite the home games and FCS opponents, the schedule still only features five teams projected worse than 100th. FIU could improve rather dramatically and still only rank in the No. 110 range, worse than all but three or four opponents.

Still, two wins and a No. 115 ranking would constitute improvement in 2014, and the team's so young that after returning 16 starters this year, it could return another 14 to 18 in 2015. Improve a little, then improve a little more next year: that has to be the goal. FIU has fallen apart quickly, but there is no quick way to rebound from the level of ineptitude the Golden Panthers showed last fall.

More from SBNation.com

In This Article

Teams
Players
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.