It was a good day to be a member of the FIU secondary in Friday morning’s practice as the Panthers wore full gear for the first time in camp. With the FIU defensive front providing the pass rush, the secondary took advantage. FIU quarterbacks were under pressure during the majority of team drills on Friday.
Cornerback Sam Miller had some tight coverage and defended a couple of passes as did Deonte Wilson, who might have had family members in the stands because Wilson received the loudest cheers from those in attendance. Richard Leonard continued his terrific camp batting a pass away and almost getting another interception.
Safety Demarkus Perkins, who has played good pass D this week, was a force stopping the run game. Perkins made two tackles for loss, each time getting deep into the backfield. Perkins is lining up as the starting safety in the spot occupied by Johnathan Cyprien last season. CLICK HERE to read more about how Cyprien has helped Perkins.
As expected the defense is ahead of the offense right now in camp. Defense after all is expected to be FIU’s strength this season, especially the defensive line.
Defensive tackle Greg Hickman stripped a ball carrier and Isame Faciane scooped up the fumble. Tackle Leonard Washington stuffed a run play for a loss. Junior walk-on linebacker Matt Larrubia also got into the backfield to stop a rush before it developed. Linebacker Luis Rosado recorded a sack of the touch football variety since the quarterback is off limits in camp.
The offense finally broke through against the defense in red zone drills, but not before the defense made several stops.
Freshman running back Alfonso Randolph scored from 9 yards out. E.J. Hilliard hit tight end Ya’Keem Griner on a crossing route in the back of the end zone for six. Griner used his 6-5 height to help haul in the score.
Tight end Zach Schaubhut has lined up at fullback quite often when the Panthers have gone to a two-back set. Schaubhut delivered a key block to help Lamarq Caldwell spring up the middle for 15 yards. Caldwell and Shane Coleman have had the best week running the ball.
Although neither will likely play this season, of the freshmen quarterbacks, Israel Paopao appears to be well ahead of Travis Wright. Paopao, who was recommended to FIU coach Ron Turner by former NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia, connected with freshman tight end Jonathan Pavlov in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. Paopao showed some nice touch on the pass lofting it over the defensive back.
Jake Medlock ended practice with a short touchdown pass to running back Anthon Samuel.