Previously: Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Continuing our position by position look at FIU let’s take a look at the line play. The positive for Panthers is they have five starting offensive linemen returning. However, the unit has room for growth.
The defensive line is a different story. They have the potential to be the best in C-USA.
Returnees OL: Kai Absheer (R-Sr)- Started 12 games
Jordan Budwig: (Gr)- Started 13 games
Dallas Connell: (Jr)- Started 12 games
Daquane Wilkie: (R-Sr)- Started 10 games
Neal Mars: (Sr)- Started 11 games
Shane McGough: (R-Soph)- Started 2 games
Tahj Brighthaupt: (Soph)- Reserve
Jason Jean: (R-Jr)- Reserve
Doug Connell: (R-Soph)- Reserve
Returnees DL: Fermin Silva LB/DE (Sr)- 50 tackles and 7 sacks
Anthony Johnson: (R-Sr)- 39 tackles and 7 sacks
Jermaine Sheriff: (R-Sr)- 20 tackles and 2 sacks
Noah Curtis: (Soph)- 17 tackles
Josh Little: (R-Jr)- 16 tackles and 1.5 sacks
Andrew Tarver: (R-Soph)- 12 tackles
Kevin Oliver: (Soph)- 8 tackles and 1 sack
Newcomers OL and DL: D’Antne Demery OL (Soph)- Three-star prospect, Hutchinson Community College
Lyndell Hudson Jr. OL (Fr)- Three-star prospect, Brooksville-Central High
Teair Tart DT: (Jr)- Four-star prospect, Ellsworth Community College
Tayland Humphrey DT: (Jr) Four-star prospect, Hutchinson Community College
Jordan Woods DE: (R-Soph) Transfer from Georgia Tech
Jason Mercier DE: (Fr) Three-star prospect, Boynton Beach-Atlantic
Heading into Fall: The Panther offensive line is talented and experienced. That’s the plus.
However, the fact of the matter is Alex McGough covered up for certain deficiencies on the line. FIU statistically was below average protecting the QB on passing downs (Second-and-8 or more, third-and-5 or more, or fourth-and-5 or more) in 2017.
The unit has all five starters returning, plus talented JUCO product D’Antne Demery, so the potential is there.
The D-Line is has a chance to be special. Hybrid LB/DE Fermin Silva is a darkhorse DPOY candidate.
DT Anthony Johnson could be the best interior lineman you’ve never heard of.
Four-star JUCO transfers Teair Tait and Tayland Humphrey, plus Georgia Tech transfer Jordan Woods will bring a dearth of talent to the unit.
Final Thought: The play of both units will make or break FIU in 2017. The defensive line can easily be one of the best in the conference. In my opinion, the play of the unit can make the entire defense.
Silva along with Texas transfer Edwin Freeman and Sage Lewis are a dynamic linebacking core and the play of the front-seven will do wonders for the DB’s.
As for the offensive line, there’s a stable of talented running backs ready to run behind them and two quarterbacks who if given time can make the throws.
Position Grade: Defensive Line A-/Offensive Line B-
Defensive coordinator Brent Guy has to be ecstatic at the depth on the D-line. The unit is a legit 8 deep and the ability to rotate fresh players in and out will be huge.
I’m expecting opposing offenses to be under duress all season long. The offensive line has the potential to a solid unit. The biggest question is just how much of last year’s success was McGough’s magic?