Following a 34-26 loss to Arkansas State in the Camellia Bowl which sent FIU to their first losing record in Butch Davis’ three-year tenure, he promised that there would be changes to the program in an attempt to ensure that this type of season doesn’t happen again.
“There’s got to be a whole hell of a lot of changes and things that we’re going to do significantly different, with a major one being the discipline with which we play,” said Davis.
While the changes that he’ll look to implement remain to be seen, there’s already been significant turnover in personnel from last year’s team.
Starting right tackle Devontay Taylor and FIU’s all-time leading scorer in kicker Jose Borregales have entered the transfer portal, while assistant head coach/offensive line coach Allen Mogridge has joined the staff at South Florida.
Both players have graduated from FIU and will have immediately eligibility at their next program.
Taylor, a redshirt junior, started all 13 games this year and 32 games over his four-year FIU career.
After being recruited as a defensive lineman, Taylor made the move to the offensive side of the ball in 2017 and flourished into one of the better right tackles in Conference USA, being named to the honorable mention team the past season.
FIU signed two JUCO offensive tackles for this year’s recruiting class.
The immensely talented Borregales leaves FIU as the program’s all-time leader in virtually every major field-goal kicking category. The Miami native hit a school-record 50 field goals in an FIU uniform, including setting records for the longest field goal made (53) and Camellia Bowl record for most field goals made in a game (4).
However, his tenure wasn’t without consistency issues, as Borregales’ field-goal percentage has dipped in each of his three seasons, with marks of 83.3%, 77.8%, and 72.4% this past year.
In the Camellia Bowl, he hit his first two kicks of 25 yards, then nailed two clutch kicks from 48 and 52 yards, only to miss what would have been the go-ahead 29-yard field goal.
He’ll be most remembered for his two kicks from 50 yards out that helped secure FIU’s 30-24 upset victory of Miami earlier this season.
2020 high school prospect Chase Gabriel signed with the Panthers during the December’s signing day period and should be the kicker at the start of next season.
Mogridge joined the FIU staff in December 2016, marking his second tenure under Davis, having served as his special teams and tight ends coach in 2009 & 2010 when both were at North Carolina.
He’s widely-respected as one of the top offensive line coaches in the nation, helping the Panthers finish first in fewest sacks allowed in Conference USA the previous two seasons.
Mogridge joins first-year USF head coach Jeff Scott’s staff and in doing so brings experience within the state of Florida, as he’s also coached at UCF before joining FIU.
When I asked Davis his thoughts on the transfer portal in November, he was most concerned with players choosing to leave and not finding a home.
"Last year alone there were almost 3,000 kids who entered the portal. Maybe 10 percent of them end up with a scholarship at another program," said Davis.
It’s expected that there could be more players who choose to explore the transfer portal before February's National Signing Day.