FIU will hold its second scrimmage of the spring on Friday night from FIU Stadium. The Panthers completed their 10th spring practice this morning. To get you ready for scrimmage No. 2, which is open to the public, here are some things to look for that I've noticed this spring.
E.J. Hilliard and Alex McGough have separated themselves a bit in the four-man quarterback competition. Hilliard has run the offense well this spring and you can tell he's more comfortable in his second year in the system. McGough is still learning the offense, however, he is so fundamentally sound and poised that he's operated the offense fine this spring. McGough also has some good touch on his passes.
Shane Coleman has been a pleasant surprise out of the backfield. Coleman's leg strength (squats about 600 pounds) and compact size have made it difficult for the defense to get a hold of him this spring. Lamarq Caldwell continues to show he can produce in several ways whether it's running the ball, catching it out of the backfield or pass blocking.
What a difference it has been for the offense to have Glenn Coleman back. Coleman is undoubtedly the top receiver on this team along with tight end Jonnu Smith. Coleman consistently catches the ball and provides a deep threat. Today, Coleman snared a 30-yard pass from Hilliard during team drills and raced Richard Leonard downfield before the whistle was blown to stop the play. Richard Burrows has been getting reps with the first team and he's earned them catching some tough passes this spring. Tight ends Cory White and Jonathan Pavlov have also had a good spring thus far catching the ball.
The offensive line looks better. Quarterbacks have had more time to throw this spring and some holes have been opened for the running game. Still there is room for improvement on the line as well as other areas of the team. The defensive line has probably won more of the battles in the trenches this spring. Byron Pinkston has filled in at right guard while Jordan White recovers from a knee injury.
Imarjaye Albury and Lars Koht have done a nice job filling in the two vacated defensive tackle spots left by Isame Faciane and Greg Hickman. Giovani Francois, Denzell Perine and Michael Wakefield have provided a good pass rush and gotten into the offensive backfield on run plays.
Luis Rosado has taken to the middle linebacker position even though he has never played it before. Rosado had played just outside linebacker in high school and in his first two seasons at FIU before this spring. Josh Glanton, Davison Colimon, Patrick Jean and redshirt freshman De'Shawn Hazziez have shown glimpses of what they can do this spring. I think Glanton might be having one of the better springs among the linebackers.
Demarkus Perkins and Jordan Davis have really solidified the safety spots for the Panthers while Justin Halley recovers from shoulder surgery. I see a little of former FIU and current Jacksonville Jaguars safety Johnathan Cyprien in both Perkins and Davis. No coincidence because Perkins has trained with Cyprien in the off-season. Davis played well at the end of last season and has carried that into the spring.
Like Glenn Coleman at receiver, Richard Leonard's return has really upgraded the cornerbacks. Leonard is by far FIU's best cover corner. Some of the younger and inexperienced secondary such as Jeremiah McKinnon, Vontarius West, Xavier Hines and Deonte Wilson have made plays this spring. From what I've seen the corners have made more plays on the receivers than vice versa.