Panthers' Mid-Season Report
Coach Rocketcan gives instructions during a timeout against Army in Week 4.
by Rusty McPherson
- Panthers beat writer
We have just passed the mid-way point in the 2022 season, and there is plenty to talk about here in Miami. Let's not waste any time and dive right into it.
Another Home Victory
Junior QB Gavin Copeland walks off the field after a 28-21 home victory over the UTSA Roadrunners.
The Panthers brought the home crowd at Riccardo Silva Stadium another victory over a C-USA opponent. This time, UTSA were the victims of a 28-21 affair. This game that has potentially one of the most balanced box scores in history, as each team scored one touchdown in every quarter, except in the first for UTSA.
Once again, the Panthers' offense was efficient, but this time there were flashes of what could be in the future. Redshirt sophomore tight end Brandon Reinhardt had only a single catch...for a 54-yard touchdown. This was the only score that junior quarterback Gavin Copeland would throw, but it wouldn't be the only one he scored. Copeland added another two touchdowns on the ground including a beautiful 35-yard touchdown run off of a read-option fake. Senior tailback Mayer Ewing turned in another 100-yard game and contributed a touchdown on 21 carries, but did allow a fumble that was recovered by UTSA.
Defensively, the Panthers continued to be solid. Senior cornerback Devin Carrington picked off UTSA quarterback Justin Radford to kill a Roadrunner drive. Other stops were made by junior nose tackle Jude Connors and senior linebacker Miles Mosley as both contributed a sack and Mosley delivering another forced fumble and tackle for a loss. By the end of the day, the Panthers would only allow 285 yards.
What Brought Us Here?
The Panthers' offense lines up against Marshall in Week 7. FIU would go on to win 38-13.
The only loss for FIU on the year was a 3-point home loss to Illinois. Everywhere else, the Panthers have been great. Undefeated in conference play against the likes of division-rivals Middle Tennessee State, Marshall, and Charlotte as well as an out of division game against UTSA. The Panthers also scored a statement out-of-conference 23-17 victory against Army in Week 4 that stunned many coaches across C-USA and even the nation.
Here is where the brakes might need to be pumped, though. The combined record of FIU's defeated opponents is 10-28. The only team with a winning record that the Panthers have played, they lost to (Illinois [4-2]). Regardless, the Panthers have put together the best scoring defense in the C-USA East and are only behind Old Dominion in scoring offense in the East. The Panthers have built a good foundation that has ensured post-season play for the second consecutive year: a first in school history.
What To Look For Going Forward?
Rice Owls quarterback Eric McLean slices up the University of Houston's secondary in Week 7. McLean is second in the nation in passing yards and TDs, and is potentially the best passer in the country.
Despite what coach Rocketcan might like me to do (we get it coach, one week at a time), everyone interested in C-USA football is looking forward to Week 11 as FIU takes on Rice in Texas. There are rumblings that if things continue on the track that they are, that this could be a preview of the C-USA championship game. Once again, ol' Rusty is here to be a bucket of cold water and point out that this would obviously favor the Owls over the Panthers, even if the Panthers get a second shot at Rice in Championship week. Rice simply has very few weaknesses and possesses a quarterback (redshirt senior Eric McLean) that one could easily make the argument is the best in all of college football. Talk about an uphill battle.
The good news is, (and this will make coach Rocketcan come down from his potential stroke-inducing rage) the Panthers don't play Rice next week. Next week, the Panthers take on the Old Dominion Monarchs, which is a much more winnable match-up. This game will certainly be interesting, though, as the Monarchs are coming off of an upset loss against North Texas and will likely be angry and looking to take out that anger on the Panthers. Will the Panthers be able to contain Old Dominion's aggressive and productive offense? Why not see for yourself? To purchase tickets, call 305-FIU-GAME.