FIU Football 101 – A first time fan’s guide to FIU Football

Quick Facts

Team Name: FIU Panthers (No longer Golden Panthers! We also dislike Florida International… that sounds like an airport)

Stadium: Riccardo Silva Stadium, commonly referred to as “The Cage”

Mascot: Roary

Team Colors: Blue and Gold

Conference Affiliation: Conference USA

Head Coach: Butch Davis (1st Season)

Previous Season’s Record: 4-8 (4-4 in conference play)

Rivals: FAU (Shula Bowl), UCF

Official Social Media:

Twitter: @FIUFootball

Instagram: fiu.football

Facebook: @FIUFootball

Website: FIUSports.com

History

FIU began playing football in 2002 under then head coach Don Strock. This early era was marked by the excitement of the new program and the quick ascension to the FBS level (highest level of college football) in 2004. This transition resulted in FIU joining the Sun Belt conference. At this time the team developed a strong defensive unit that became known as “Killer B’s” for standout players Antwan Barnes, Keyonvis Bouie and Alexander Bostic. In 2006, FIU played crosstown rival University of Miami and engaged in the infamous brawl that received ESPN coverage.

The 2007 season was the first for FIU’s second head coach Mario Cristobal. His tenure began with more losing but in 2008 we finally received a glimmer of hope in electric freshman TY Hilton (more on him later). The team continued to improve and in 2010 won their first ever conference title and bowl game. The 2011 team also reached a bowl game but underperformed towards the end of the season. The summer of 2012 was one of excitement for FIU Football fans. Our Panthers received high praise as a potential contender for the Access Bowl Bid (Best team from non-Power 5 conference). The team even managed to receive some preseason top 25 votes. This hype proved to be just that as the team mightily failed to meet expectations due in large part to injuries and conflict within the team. That team finished the season 3-9 and led to the controversial firing of Mario Cristobal.

The next coach hired was Ron Turner. The 2013 season, the first under Coach Turner was FIU’s first in Conference USA. Our Panthers further regressed and finished the next 4 seasons below .500 and considered by many to be one of the weakest programs in FBS. Luckily there is HOPE! Which brings us too…

Coach Butch Davis

Butch Davis is best known for his time as head coach at the University of Miami. There, he assembled arguably the greatest team in college football history before leaving to the NFL. He never actually won the National Championship at Miami but his successor did with all his players and basically the same style of coaching. Point is we are getting a championship level coach to run our program! This has the FIU fan base (admittedly small, but growing) excited. Everyone expects a turn around with Butch at the helm. Expect more media coverage and national exposure now that we have a great name at head coach. Let’s wait and see if Coach Davis brings more than just a name to FIU. In his own words, “Why Not Us?”

Players To Know

Offense:

  • Alex McGough QB – Everyone knows the starting quarterback and McGough starts the season as ours. He has tons of experience but can be hit or miss at times. We expect a strong senior season from him.
  • Alex Gardner RB – Another guy that’s a 3-year starter and looking to further improve. He is already FIU’s all-time leading rusher and does a great job of catching the ball out of the back field as well.
  • Thomas Owens WR – TO as we like to call him had a breakout season in 2015. His numbers decreased a bit last season but expect them to jump back up now that he’s the focal point of the passing attack.
  • Anthony Jones RB – Expect a big year from our second member of our 1-2 punch at running back. Jones is a bit more physical and it seems he has gotten better with every game he plays.

Defense:

  • Anthony Wint LB – Wint is a stud in the middle of the field and will look to continue his high production from the linebacker position. He is a tackle machine that is looking to make a statement in his senior season.
  • Isaiah Brown CB – This is a younger guy in the secondary who definitely impressed in his freshman season. He led the team in interceptions and became our best corner. Expect on him to build on that this coming season.
  • Treyvon Williams LB – Another tackling machine in the middle. Hopefully our solid linebackers can improve on run stopping. Another potential All-CUSA guy.
  • Fermin Silva DE – Coming into his junior season is speedy defensive end. Our defense struggled getting to the opposing QB last season but Silva will look to lead that unit in the 2017 season.

Biggest Games

If you can’t make it to (or watch) every game you’ll definitely want to check these out:

August 31st @ UCF

First game of the season. First game under Coach Butch Davis. In-state rival. National television. This game has so many storylines it’s easy to place it as one of the biggest games of the year. UCF stomped all over FIU 53-14 in the cage last season and there were even arrogant chants of “Bright House South”. This year FIU will travel up to Orlando and look to repeat their 2015 performance when they blocked a last second field goal and sent the Knights spiraling into a dismal season.

How to watch: CBS Sports Network 6:00 PM

September 16th @ Indiana

Another road game and another chance for Butch and the boys to make a statement. In this matchup FIU is looking to beat a Power-5 team for the first time in program history! This should be a competitive game as FIU has played Indiana close each of the last two seasons.

How to watch: Big Ten Network 3:30 PM

November 4th vs UTSA

This is the 2017 homecoming game and as anyone who has attended an FIU Homecoming game knows, these are usually quite fun. The student tailgate gets interesting to say the least. The stadium fills up more than usual and yes I understand that’s not saying much. Overall, this is likely to be the best atmosphere at Riccardo Silva Stadium this season so we highly suggest coming out and witnessing it in person.

How to watch: Stadium 7:00 PM but you won’t need TV… GO IN PERSON!

November 11th @ FAU

This year’s Shula Bowl will be more heated than usual. FIU and Florida Atlantic have gone back and forth in recent years and the same thing seamed to happen this off season. After FIU announced their splash hiring in Butch Davis, FAU went ahead and hired Lane Kiffin. This will be an interesting matchup and hopefully a meaningful one in Conference USA play. Highly recommend making the short trip to Boca Raton and witnessing this one in person.

How to watch: Stadium 7:00 PM

We hope this is the year FIU Football turns things around. Why Not Us?

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