After the last scrimmage of FIU’s training camp, I asked offensive line coach Allen Mogridge a question about his time as an assistant at UCF.
Mogridge was there for two highly successful seasons (2012 & 2014), but his final season in Orlando was an infamous 0-12 season that led the revamp of the entire program.
The question was what he takes from that experience, and what does he tell the players (if anything) about how quickly the program can go from conference championship contender to bottom-dweller overnight.
“Be where your feet are, that’s my biggest takeaway. Don’t look too far ahead and don’t rest on what you did yesterday. You have to be prepared to bring it every day and when things go wrong, don’t point fingers,” said Mogridge.
After Saturday’s disappointing 20-14 loss to a Western Kentucky team that lost to an FCS opponent in week one, FIU’s feet are squarely cemented in an 0-2 record that nobody saw coming.
The preeminent question on Panther fans’ minds - how did we get here? While that is still yet to be answered, let’s put a close on week two for the Panthers.
“Little” Twin to the Rescue
Despite being listed 5-11, 165-pounds, which is the same size as his twin brother Richard minus 20 pounds, Rishard Dames is commonly referred to by those in the FIU program as “little twin.”
Near the end of the first quarter, Rishard stepped up big-time and made a play that at the time looked like it might save the game for FIU.
His leaping one-handed interception of WKU quarterback Steven Duncan was spectacular in its own right. Then, he raced 80 yards down the FIU sideline, returning the interception for a touchdown - the first of his collegiate career.
“It actually was a busted coverage; I was supposed to play man (coverage) on the play. I’ve been working on one-handed catches in practice and it paid off tonight,” said Dames.
On the interception return, he was aided in his not so short jaunt to the endzone by Richard, who threw a block on the play.
“Rich told me in the locker room to make sure I talk about in postgame how I gave you that touchdown and Noah (Curtis) told me he threw a block too,” said Dames.
When I asked how he felt about his first career pick-six on the collegiate level, he admitted that he was still taking in the moment.
“It feels like the first ever one I got in high school. I was kind of nervous when I caught it, still don’t believe it, but now I’m ready to get some more,” said Dames.
Kaylan Wiggins makes his debut
Kaylan Wiggins’ road to FIU wasn’t exactly a direct trip.
The 6-3, 200-pound redshirt sophomore initially committed to Tulane, before having his scholarship pulled at the last minute because the program decided to pursue junior-college quarterbacks instead.
After not appearing in any games during his first two seasons in Miami, the Sanford, Florida native made his debut late in the second quarter against WKU, when James Morgan left with a lower-body injury.
The Wiggins family can be seen at each home in the same area of the FIU family section, clad in number seven shirts with Wiggins at the top.
When the younger Wiggins made his debut, Kerry Wiggins Sr. could be seen from the press box watching each play closely, but not showing strong emotion.
On the field, Wiggins used his mobility to extend plays and finished the night with 15 carries for 25 yards (an errant snap cost him 11 yards) and went 2-6 with 41 yards passing on the evening.
During the final drive, it looked as if Wiggins may have been shaken up, as third-string quarterback Caleb Lynum entered the huddle to take the final snaps before Morgan returned following an FIU timeout.
Captain Morgan’s Health
With the high hopes that the FIU Panthers entered the season with, there was always one unknown that nobody wanted to speak to fruition - the lack of experience at QB behind James Morgan.
When the redshirt senior left the game before halftime, the scenario that Butch Davis has wanted to avoid since the 2018 Gasparilla Bowl came back to light.
Davis stressed throughout last season that he did not want to have another season where he didn’t have two game-ready quarterbacks.
Entering this week’s game against New Hampshire, Davis said postgame that Morgan should be ready to play but didn’t state it with 100% certainty.
“Obviously I’m not a doctor, but from what I’m hearing, James should be ready to go against New Hampshire,” said Davis.
On his weekly internet show with FIU’s play-by-play announcer A.J. Ricketts, Davis said that Wiggins will spend some extra time with the first team if he’s needed.
For what it’s worth, Morgan gutted out the final two plays of the game, knowing that they would be passing plays and he wouldn’t need to move as much.
- Dorian Hall recorded his fourth career interception when he picked off Duncan in the second half on Saturday.
- The run defense which has been much maligned performed well against WKU, giving up less than four yards a carry.
- Tommy Heatherly rebounded from his poor week one performance and Davis noted him postgame, “I was really happy with Tommy, I think those were some first-game jitters last week and punted well tonight,” said Davis.
- Receiver Jordan Underwood made his debut and could see more time in the wideout rotation going forward.