Given that last year’s FIU spring game was canceled because of lightning just before kickoff, the 2017 version was a roaring success by comparison.
Playing at the newly renamed Riccardo Silva Stadium, FIU’s offense defeated its defense 17-14 on Friday night.
This was the first time fans could watch Butch Davis coach FIU, and it was also the public debut of the new video board and turf field at Silva Stadium.
Highlights included Alex McGough’s 81-yard touchdown pass to Thomas Owens and Anthony Jones’ 15-yard scoring run around left end.
With starting running back Alex Gardner held out of the game as a precaution, Jones was the leading rusher with five carries and 30 yards.
“That kid [Jones] has got some burst, he’s got some power,” Davis said. “He showed some ability to get in the hole, jump cut and get to the sidelines.”
The leading pass-catcher was Austin Maloney, who had five grabs for 56 yards. He stepped up when fellow receiver Julian Williams suffered a quad bruise.
“Maloney made some great catches on the sidelines,” Davis said. “He was off the radar when I first got here. But every practice, he’s gotten better.”
McGough completed 14 of 21 passes for 202 yards, with no interceptions.
The only turnover in the game came on the final play when defensive back Chris White grabbed an interception thrown by walk-on Dominic Caldwell.
Defensive end Fermin Silva was the overall defensive star with a pair of sacks, although the quarterbacks were not allowed to be tackled.
“It hurts,” Silva said when asked about being held back from actually hitting passers. “In September, first game, I will get a chance to bring a quarterback down.”
This was the ceremonial end to spring drills, but the official last practice will be on Tuesday.
Either way, enough has happened to draw some conclusions — or guesses — as to who will be on the first team when Davis releases his first official FIU depth chart this fall.
FIU figures to be in three-receiver sets often with Owens, Williams and Tony Gaiter IV bidding to start. Maloney, Darrius Scott and Stantley Thomas are challenging.
The offensive line, from left to right is Kai Absheer, Dallas Connell, Neil Mars, Chris Miller and Daquane Wilkie.
FIU could have a falloff at tight end, where Jonnu Smith and A.J. Branisel are gone. Smith is an NFL prospect while Branisel left the team with one year of eligibility remaining.
Graduate student A.J. Sattinger, a transfer from Coastal Carolina, has been running with the first team.
On the defensive line, Silva and Newton Salisbury are at end and Jermaine Sheriff and Milord Juste are running with the first team at tackle.
Linebackers Treyvon Williams and Anthony Wint are the most obvious of starters on defense, and Sage Lewis could be the player to join them at the position.
Emmanuel Lubin and Isaiah Brown are holding down jobs at the corners. Niko Gonzalez and Xavier Hines, held out this spring due to injuries, are expected to enter fall as starters.