Exactly one month following a disappointing 1-3 start to the season, FIU has renewed life after sweeping a three-game homestand that saw the team notch victories over UMass, Charlotte, and UTEP.
The Panthers take a step up in competition against Middle Tennessee State on Saturday, despite their 2-5 record. Before turning the page on last week, let’s take a look at the notebook from the UTEP win.
Entering the season, Butch Davis and co-Defensive Coordinator Jeff Copp stressed the need to build depth at the linebacker position behind Sage Lewis and Jamal Gates. Redshirt sophomore Tevin Jones made the most of his opportunity after learning mid-week that he would start in place of Lewis.
Postgame, Jones was downright giddy at the opportunity to talk about the getting the chance.
“Once I found out, my mindset was all about getting focused. Sage and Jamal told me not to think too hard, just play hard and play physical and do my job,” said Jones.
The Miami Norland High product has had two seasons to learn behind players such as Lewis and former FIU linebacker Edwin Freeman.
“They taught me how to do the same things they do, don’t take false steps, learn how to stand still and not bite on the fakes,” said Jones.
Jones’ patience paid off on Saturday as he recorded a game-high nine tackles and more importantly, he’s gained the trust of Davis going forward.
“He’s earned the opportunity through his play on special teams and we could tell that he would be able to help us with depth. I’m really proud of the way he played tonight,” said Davis.
For the better part of his first two seasons as a collegiate kicker, Jose Borregales has been one of the top kickers in Conference USA. The Miami native 29-of-36 career attempts entering this season.
However, he got off to an uncharacteristically rough start, opening the season 2-for-6 on kicks before rebounding with making his last six, including a 3-for-3 effort in the win.
Borregales explained the struggles postgame.
“For me, I just had to step back, return to the basics and just do what I do. One of the things I did during the bye week was get with my kicking coaches (Kohl’s Football Kicking & Kornblue Kicking) and watch the tape. They helped me get back to the basics,” said Borregales.
Butch Davis has noted in various postgames that having a new holder for the first time in Borregales’ career may have played a factor in some of the misses.
“It’s not the holder’s fault, that’s on me. But it does play a factor because I had to learn to trust that he (Alec Hallman) would put it down. There were times when I didn’t think he would get it down, but that’s on me,” said Borregales.
The ever-confident kicker stated that he knows instantaneously when he’s hit a good ball.
“You know when you hit your A-ball. When you hit it, I don’t even have to look up, I can start celebrating before it even goes through, because you just know as a kicker,” he said.
- Three players from the 2019 recruiting class are no longer with the program. Deshaun Davis, Ni’Kendrick Carter and Danny Corbett have chosen to transfer. No word has been given on the reasoning outside of the fact that each player left on their own and weren't dismissed. However, in the case of Corbett, there may have been some struggles to adapt to the offensive line techniques that are coached at FIU. The JUCO transfer was expected to be part of the rotation this season but only played in one game. Carter garnered interest from Oklahoma State and SMU during his recruitment and was a three-star prospect.
- Kamareon Williams officially switched positions from fullback to tight end. As a result, he’s now wearing number 87.
- Maleek Williams and Nikholi Jaghai were dressed for the first time as Panthers on Saturday. They’re expected to be the last of the transfers from the offseason to have waivers cleared.