Panther take on conference leading Pirates

After limping to a 1-6 start to begin the year, the FIU football team looks to salvage what’s left of its season as they welcome Conference USA rival East Carolina.

The C-USA leading Pirates come to Miami with a record of 5-2 and a conference record of 3-1 and just having beaten Southern Mississippi by a score of 55-14.

Head Coach Ruffin McNeill understands that FIU is not a team to take lightly and that under the guidance of Head Coach Ron Turner and his pro-style offense the Panthers will be quite the challenge.

“He’s been on all levels, from the NFL to the Big Ten. He’s implementing his personality into FIU with a pro-style offense, four down linemen and a multiple defense with even-type fronts, which have a lot of movement, stunting and blitzing up front,” McNeill said in a press conference via ECU Athletics. “He’s trying to convert FIU from more of a quarterback-running, zone-read type offense to what he wants as far as the pro-style. He has open sets, but he has more closed sets than we’ve seen this year with dual tight ends, two [running] backs, wings and trying to out-leverage you and gain advantages by personnel and formations.”

The Panthers will have to deal with a Pirate team that averages 37.1 points a game which seems like a recipe for disaster seeing how the Panthers allows exactly the same amount of points per game. East Carolina comes to FIU with 748 yards rushing, most of which are from senior running back Vintavious Cooper who has 555 yards and five touchdowns on the season.

Meanwhile, the numbers for FIU are not as promising. The Panthers have only been able to collect 518 yards of rushing in seven games this season. The Panthers leading rusher so far this year has been Silas Spearman III, who has rushed for a total of 287 yards and and three touchdowns. The FIU rushing game has been a consistent issue among other things this year as the Panthers have only been able to average two yards a carry.

When it comes to the passing attack for both teams, the Pirates once again have the upper hand as they average 340 yards a game. East Carolina is led by junior Shane Carden who has 2,325 passing yards and 16 touchdowns on the season.

Compare those numbers to the Panthers, who have only 1,016 yards and six touchdowns between both Jake Medlock and E.J. Hilliard combined. Panthers’ starting quarterback Medlock is having a rough senior season having thrown six interception and only four touchdowns on the year.

On the opposite side of the field it doesn’t get any better for the Panthers as they have allowed 32 touchdowns this season. The front pressure for FIU has been the one bright spot on this Panther team as they have racked up 11 sacks on the season led by senior Greg Hickman who has 3 sacks on the year.

The Pirates aren’t afraid to bring the pressure as they have ransacked opposing quarterbacks for 20 sacks this season. East Carolina’s aggressive defense is led by senior defensive end Lee Pegues who has four sacks so far this year and will be looking to add on against FIU.

The Pirates’ pressure on opposing quarterbacks has also helped out their secondary play as East Carolina has picked off opposing offenses eight times this season. Senior defensive back Damon Magazu leads the secondary of the Pirates with three interceptions on the season.

For McNeill, he understands the importance of winning and having all three phases of the game come together as one complete unit.

“To accomplish our goals for the season is going to depend on us playing great complementary football on all three sides of the ball,” McNeill said. “If we can put together a series of plays, where we are all three working as one, I think that will be key. That’s where we are with our team. We’re looking forward to the challenge and getting back on the road. This will be a five-week regular season schedule.”

About the Author

Francisco Rivero
: FIU Student Media Sports Director, Co-Host of Panther Sports Talk Live, Sports and Opinion writer, Communications major.

Be the first to comment on "Panther take on conference leading Pirates"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.