FIU quarterback Alex McGough is coming off a record-breaking season where he had the most completions (269), passing yards (2,722) and passing touchdowns (21) in FIU football history.
Entering his junior season, McGough has learned the FIU offense, improved his fundamentals and gained the confidence of his teammates. McGough is the undisputed leader of the offense and has progressed in each of his first two seasons.
"He's better with anticipation, touch, and accuracy," FIU coach Ron Turner said of McGough. "He knows the offense so well. His eye discipline is much better. Trust what your eyes are telling you and when he has the talent that he has, he's going to be good."
While FIU knows what it has in McGough, the Panthers are still trying to figure out who will backup their starter. Christian Alexander (below, left) and Maurice Alexander (below, right) are competing for the No. 2 job and both are redshirt freshmen. FIU knows they are each one play away from going into a game.
"They are both doing some good things and they are doing some things that show you they haven't played," Turner said. "I think it will continue to be a battle [for backup job]. Christian is a little bit ahead right now, but not much. They are both in the mix. We won't give them the whole offense like Alex. They will each have a package. We will have a Christian package and we will have a Maurice package -- if they were to go in the game."
McGough has taken to helping each Alexander because just two years ago McGough was in a similar spot. However, unlike the Alexanders who are vying for the backup spot, back then McGough was competing with E.J. Hilliard for the starting job.
"Every day they push me and I push them," McGough said of the Alexanders. "We don't let each other slack. If they have questions they ask me. The best advice I can give them is move on to the next play. You can't think about your last play when you are running your next play. It just doesn't work. In my freshman year I got in trouble when I would do that. You have to be mentally tough and just move on to the next play."
Turner has seen progress in each Alexander but knows they still have to get better.
"I think Christian has improved his eye discipline but it's not where it needs to be," Turner said. "It's better than it was. The biggest thing is probably understanding the offense a little bit better. He's still going off the playbook instead of just seeing it and immediately reacting to it.
"I think Maurice has to improve in anticipation and getting the ball out quicker. He's holding the ball too long which is very typical for a young guy. His leadership is good and the guys react to him. He's just got to improve his eye discipline and get the ball out quicker."