Panthers Kick-off Practice for Upcoming Season

FIU Football HelmetPhoto by PantherNOW

Written by Dalton Tevlin/Assistant Sports Director

FIU has begun preparing for football season with spring practice and the hope to improve on their University record of nine wins from last year.

There is certainly a healthy amount of expectations being placed on the team in Coach Butch Davis’ third season as head coach.

Since the arrival of Davis, the football program has changed for the better. Since time of former head coach Ron Turner, the Panthers have gone from being placed in the high 80s and 90s to being placed in the lower 30s and 20s.

Although football season doesn’t officially start until Thursday, Aug. 29, the Panthers are already preparing for the upcoming season with spring training.

“To have a good spring you have to have a good off season conditioning program,“ said Davis to Student Media. “This is far and away the best off season program we have had in my time here.”

The team recruited a few key players to the Panthers including Stone Norton, Brian Dillard, and Kendre’ Gant.

During their first practice in preparation of the season, the Panthers took to the field to practice defensive lines, offensive strategies and a scrimmage 15 minutes before the end of practice.

The team went head-to-head to test their new defensive  and offensive plays and give new quarterbacks a chance to pass to their new teammates.

“The first day of practice you’d like to think that one of the best things is the energy level and the passion level because those things become contagious,” said Davis. “I just couldn’t have asked for it to go any better today.”

The football program has been through some staff changes in the offseason, the biggest being the departure of former defensive coordinator, Brent Guy.

The team promoted assistant coach Jeff Copp and brought in Jerod Kruse from the Cleveland Browns defensive staff to be the co-defensive coordinators.

“We were really looking for someone who had versatility and bringing Jerod in has been awesome…he has been a secondary coach, a linebacker coach and a defensive coordinator,” said Davis. “It’s not always about being a positional coach, you want guys who have creative ideas.”

This will be Copp’s first season as co-defensive coordinator and looking over the linebackers.

Prior to being promoted, he was the safeties coach for his first two seasons in the football program.

Last year, Copp’s starting safeties Dorian Hall and Olin Cushion III ranked third and fifth on the team for their number of tackles. Hall had 65 tackles while Cushion III had 46 tackles.

“It’s a great opportunity, we have a great tradition started at FIU and Coach Davis continues to elevate the program so a there’s lot of excitement happening here,” said Copp. “Nobody has bigger expectations for us than we do.”

Starting quarterback for the Panthers, James Morgan, missed FIU’s Bahama Bowl win because of a shoulder injury.

He’ll be back for this football season to continue being the quarterback for the Panthers.

Morgan had a record-setting season last year for passing yards with  a total of 2727 yards.

“It feels great to be back out here. We had a good tempo all around and it was just a good day,” said Morgan on his return.

Everyone across the program is feeling the weight of the expectations heading into the season.

The bar is set very high, according to Morgan. The team has their expectations for themselves, and they have to put in 100 percent every time they come onto the field.

“We know where we want to get and we know the things we have to do to get there,” said Morgan.

Feature Image by PanterNOW

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