Arkansas Pine-Bluff (1-3, 0-1 SWAC) vs FIU (2-2, 1-0 C-USA)
Date/Time: Saturday, Sept. 29, 7:30 PM
TV: ESPN+ (A.J. Ricketts & Kenny Kelly)
Radio: WAXY 790 The Ticket (A.J. Ricketts & Kenny Kelly)/ 99.3 The Beat/KUAP 89.7 (Arkansas Pine-Bluff Student Radio)
Location: Riccardo Silva Stadium, University Park, FL
Betting Line: FIU -52.5 O/U 65.5
All-Time Series Record: No prior meetings
The Panthers are coming off of a disappointing 31-17 loss to Miami last week.
While the final score may show a two-possession loss, the game was 31-0 until a pair of C.J. Worton touchdown grabs in the fourth quarter.
If Saturday’s game against the Golden Lions is in any doubt past halftime, Butch Davis may have long talk with his team before they enter the bulk of the C-USA schedule.
Quarterback James Morgan played every series except for two versus the Hurricanes and didn’t have much of chance to get in rhythm.
Expect to see Morgan look for his favorite target in Worton and emerging freshman tight end Sterling Palmer, who are the Panthers two leading receivers on the season.
Running backs Shawndarrius Phillips and Napoleon Maxwell had a combined 18 carries for 26 yards against an elite Hurricane defense. This game against Arkansas Pine-Bluff could be just what the doctor ordered as the Golden Lion defense has given up over 700 yards rushing in the past two games.
Look for both backs along with D’Vonte Price and possibly freshmen Shaun Peterson Jr. or DeMarcus Townsend.
FIU’s defense never stopped competing versus Miami but self-admittedly weren’t expecting to see N’Kosi Perry last week.
While exactly how much the surprise quarterback switch hurt the Panthers is unknown, what is very much clear is that the pass defense is still a work in progress.
What should aid the secondary is star DE/LB Fermin Silva appearing to be coming into form. Silva was a last-second scratch for FIU’s game against UMass with an ankle injury but had two sacks against Miami last week.
Arkansas Pine-Bluff Preview
First-year head coach Cedric Thomas knew he had his work cut out for him taking over a program that has gone 11-44 since winning a SWAC title in 2012.
However, the climb back to the top may be steeper than expected. The Golden Lions have been outscored 152-19 in their past two outings.
JUCO transfer Shannon Patrick has looked formidable at quarterback when given time. Whether or not he sees the field is a question mark as it will be a game-time decision between he and freshman Skyler Perry, who started last week because of hand injury to Patrick.
Wide receiver Josh Wilkes is a dynamic playmaker who entering last week was leading the SWAC in receiving. His status will also be a game-time call as he was injured in the Golden Lions 90-6 loss to South Dakota State.
Running back Taeyler Porter has been efficient on the ground for UAPB. Porter, who’s a South Florida native transferred from ASA College in Miami which also produced current Panthers Sean Young and Kaliq Jacas.
If this one is close past halftime we’ll be waiting much longer than we did for Butch Davis to speak to the media after his team’s losses to Indiana and Miami.
Pine-Bluff heads into Riccardo Silva Stadium banged up and coming off of two straight demoralizing losses. That’s in addition to being an FCS team.
Final Score: FIU 72 UABP 7