Sophomore wide receiver DeAndre Jasper, slated to be a kick returner and the slot receiver when FIU goes three-wide, didn’t make the trip to Maryland.
Like junior cornerback Richard Leonard, senior wide receiver Glenn Coleman — both of whom would have been starters Saturday — and some others who would have played significant minutes, Jasper hadn’t been academically cleared.
FIU coach Ron Turner sounded almost more angered about that than the Panthers’ performance Saturday.
“That’s another thing, we’ve got too many guys who are academically ineligible, and we’ve got some guys who are suspended,” Turner said.
“And, I told the team, those guys hurt us. We didn’t have the depth that we needed to have and to not have some guys here because of what they did. … I didn’t make them academically ineligible, I didn’t suspend any of them. They suspended themselves because of their actions.
“I told these guys, ‘Don’t be one of those guys,’ ” he continued. “We had guys sitting at home who should’ve been here. That hurt this football team by not taking care of business, by not being accountable off the field, hurt us on the field. And, I promise you, we will get that … stuff … cleared up.”
FIU had 11 players starting their first game Saturday. That matched the number for the 2007 season opener at Penn State, the first game of Mario Cristobal’s coaching tenure.
Two of those players, freshmen guard Jordan Budwig and tight end Jonnu Smith, were in their first college games. Smith caught a short pass and turned it into a 20-yard gain.
Redshirt freshman kicker Sergio Sroka hit his career first field-goal attempt, a 32-yarder, and first extra point. Redshirt freshman Chris Ayers punted nine times for a 40.8-yard average.
Holding the line
As expected, the defensive line, as a unit, probably had the best game.
Sophomore Mike Wakefield, starting at defensive end, had three tackles for loss, a sack and a fumble recovery among his seven tackles. Wakefield also extended a Maryland touchdown drive with an unnecessary roughness penalty after he continued to ride Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown after pushing Brown out of bounds for no gain on a third-and-10.
FIU’s touchdown followed senior defensive tackle G reg Hickman blasting Brown into a fumble (the one Wakefield recovered). Hickman had two tackles for loss among his five tackles, all solo. Working next to Hickman, senior tackle Isame Faciane had six tackles, with one for a loss.
• FIU’s health took a beating Saturday.
Linebacker Davison Colimon looked perhaps the worst of all, on crutches and with a walking boot over the left ankle he injured near the end of the first quarter. Fifth-year senior Derrick Jones Jr. took his place. Starting strong safety Demarkus Perkins went down with a knee injury earlier in the first quarter.
Redshirt sophomore running back Shane Coleman ran through a head-on with Maryland linebacker Matt Robinson to turn a third-and-1 from the Maryland 6 into first-and-goal from the 2. But Coleman left the game with a right knee injury that had him on crutches after the game.