Tuesday, March 22, 2011

FIU Golden Panthers 2010 Review

2010 Record: 7-6 (6-2), Tied 1st Sun Belt
2010 Bowl Game: Pizza Bowl, Defeated Toledo 34-32
2010 Schedule/Results: Rutgers, L 19-14, @ Texas A&M, L 27-20, @ Maryland, L 42-28, @ Pittsburgh, L 44-17, Western Kentucky, W 28-21, @ North Texas, W 34-10, @ Florida Atlantic, L 21-9, UL-Monroe, W 42-35, @ Troy, W 52-35, @ UL-Lafayette, W 38-17, Arkansas State, W 31-24, Middle Tennessee, L 28-27


     The Panthers missed out on their first ever outright Sun Belt title by 1 point. They still tied for the title, and got preferrential treatment due to having defeated Troy, the team they tied with. The heartbreak of it all is that the 1 point loss came in the final regular season game. That being said, the Panthers still traveled to Detroit and knocked off Toledo to win their first ever bowl game.
     Wesley Carroll, a Mississippi State transfer, had a decent season, and if he had exchanged 4 TDs for 4 picks, it would have been a very nice season indeed. Carroll passed for 2623 yards, a hyge upgrade for him, and managed 16 TDs to go with 14 picks. It was nice just to see Carroll get to be a pocket QB rather than forcing him into a spread read option role that he was never suited for at MSU. Carroll should see some major signs of development as a senior in 2011.
     Darriet Perry was not a yardage monster, but get him near the endzone and watch him score, which he did 16 times in 2010. Perry did rush for 839 yards, but he shared the load at RB with Darrian Mallary, a sophomore, who rushed for 679 yards and 2 scores. Both will be back in 2011 to give FIU a very solid and deep offensive backfield.
     TY Hilton was one of the big stars of this team in 2010, and was thought of as one of the best players in the Sun Belt coming into the 2010 season. He did not fail anyone, as he piled up a line of 59-848-5. He added another 833 yards and 2 scores as a kick return man, and another 126 on punt returns. To say that Hilton was a monster would be an understatement to what his importance was to FIU. Hilton returns as well in 2011, giving FIU a full clip of ammo to return to the top of the league. Greg Ellingson benefitted from double coverage going to Hilton as he rolled up 43-612-5. Ellingson will graduate, but there was depth behind him in Wayne Times aand Jacob Younger. Jonathon Faucher only had 9 receptions as the starting TE, but he will return as well.
     The defense was not great. It had its moments, but it was good that the offense was so productive, because they had to get involved in shoot outs at times due to the defense not holding ground. The D gave up an average of 205 yards passing, and 157.8 yards on the ground per game.
     The teams leading tackler was a DB in Jonathon Cyprien, and when a DB is leading your team in tackles, it's not good. Cyprien had 113 tackles in 2010. Toronto Smith, a LB finished 2nd on the team with 91 tackles. Smith is moving on, but Cyprien will return as a junior. LB Winston Fraser, a sophomore, finished third on the team with 72.
     2 of the top 3 producers in TFLs are moving on after 2010. Jarvis Wilson had a very strong season behind enemy lines, as he collected 15 TFLs. Fellow senior Smith finished 3rd with 10.5. Sophomore DL Tourek Williams is obviously the returnee with 13.5.Fraser just missed out with 9. Wilson led the team with 9.5 sacks.
     The Panthers knocked away 34 passes as a team in 2010, with Cyprien (6), Anthony Gaitor (5), and Emmanuel Souarin (5) leading the way. They were lacking in ballhawking for picks as individuals, but as a team, the Panthers picked off 15 passes on the season. Junior Mertile, a converted receiver, led the team with 3 picks.
     Jack Griffin was extremely solid at PK, as he connected on 17 of 20 FG attempts on the season. Griffin was only a sophomore, which will give the Panthers guaranteed points heading into 2011. Josh Brisk was a bit under the norm for a good season, as he only managed 39.34 yards per punt. He too is only a sophomore, so it would not be bad to ecpext some development in 2011 from him.


Who would have thought that FIU would win the Sun Belt and head off to their first ever bowl after they started 0-4? I even had Mario Christobol in my dead pool, meaning coaches who were guaranteed to get fired in 2010. The Panthers engineered a huge turnaround after that, and went on to win 6 of their final 8, including a huge win over conference heavyweight Troy. FIU did the impossible, saved their season, and probably their coach as well, as there were certainly rumblings. What's even better? There is a huge talent pool returing for 2011, making FIU a solid favorite to take the crown outright next season.

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