I’m not sure if anyone has told the offensive players for the Panthers, but they should not strive for being ranked in the 100s when there are only about 120 teams in Division I football.
When you look at a team that pulls in ranks of 123 out of 123 possible football programs for total offense, tied at 117 out of 123 overall for both passing and rushing yards, it is easy to understand why the team has only a single win going into a matchup against East Carolina University on Nov. 2.
The quarterback should be a keystone set player in your offense, but was not present on this roster – or at least I didn’t see that between Jake Medlock and E.J. Hilliard, who combined have totaled just above 1,000 yards in the air. The pair combined for just over a 50 percent completion clip in the season with 1,016 yards on 85 completions and 160 attempts.
The less than average performances by the quarterbacks are not solely to blame on them though as the receiving core tends to drop passes that should, in my opinion and the opinion of some of the scouts from the National Football League who have attended some games, be caught.
There are only three receivers who have double digit numbers in receptions, those being: wide receiver T.J. Lowder (16), tight end Jonnu Smith (16) and wide receiver Clinton Taylor (12).
Going through the offensive backfield, the running game has also been by committee. As of Nov. 1, the leading rusher on the Panthers is Silas Spearman III with 252 yards on 87 carries. Spearman III only started breaking out into the offense with a performance against the Golden Eagles of the University of Southern Mississippi in the team’s only win. The two games he played in before the USM game, he only racked up 33 yards on 30 carries. But the freshman Loxahatchee, Fla. native broke out against USM and gained 136 yards on 29 carries in that single game.
Since the breakout performance, he has only registered 87 yards on 38 carries before the game against the Pirates.
Through seven games the second leading rusher was Lamarq Caldwell. Caldwell, a sophomore out of Tampa, Fla. is one of the only skilled position players who has dealt with the ball in all seven games. He has 235 yards on 74 carries.
As a fan of the game, it is hard to watch a team struggle as much as the offense has in the majority of the season. This especially coming from a team that had so much promise when current Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton was the entire offense for four years – by the way, Hilton’s name is only in the record books for the team 315 times – under former head coach Mario Cristobal, who also has moved on to bigger and better things as he is now the offensive line coach for the number one ranked team in the country, the Crimson Tide of the University of Alabama.
The Panthers will travel to Murfreesboro, Tenn. on Saturday, Nov. 9, to face former Sun Belt Conference opponent – the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee State University.