The offense beat the defense 44-18 in FIU’s Spring Game on Saturday, according to a byzantine scoring system that made the score far less relevant than a few simple facts.
Such as early enrolled freshman quarterback Alex McGough lined up with the first team on his last series of the day after leading the second team offense to the only touchdown scored against the first or second team defense. The brevity of that series — two incompletions, a false start penalty, a senseless draw play — didn’t overshadow McGough’s earlier sharpness earned him that series and sets up a starting quarterback battle with junior-to-be E.J. Hilliard for the fall.
“Two weeks ago, I felt like ‘I really got this down,’ ” McGough said. “Coming from now knowing anything to knowing everything…the coaches, the players, they’re all helping me. E.J., especially, teaching me everything, not being selfish. It’s just great.”
In fact, both touchdowns scored in the 48-minute scrimmage were passes from early enrolled freshmen. After finding tight ends Ya’keem Griner for 12 yards and Jonathon Pavlov for 16 off play action, McGough fired an 18-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Lowder. Pavlov brought down a 4-yard lob from Fort Lauderdale Dillard High graduate Bud Martin during the third teamers versus third teamers part of the scrimmage.
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McGough and Griner also accounted for the first two of the three passing plays longer than 20 yards: a 24-yard catch-and-run and a beautiful 23-yard throw that might’ve been the best pass of the day by any quarterback. During one of wide receiver DeAndre Jasper’s plays moonlighting at running back, he broke a draw play for 29 yards and got the last 6 or 7 yards with video-game-like open-field running.
McGough also was involved in the day’s only turnover, a fumbled exchange with running back Lamarq Caldwell, recovered by sophomore-to-be linebacker Treyvon Williams. Caldwell, last year’s workhorse, got double and triple shifted after an open field tackle sent Silas Spearman III hopping off with left leg raised. That left FIU with Caldwell and redshirt-junior-to-be Shane Coleman, who’s been running with the first team.
Spearman was walking somewhat normally after the game. FIU coach Ron Turner said he could play if there was a game next week. Turner knew less about defensive end Denzell Perine’s knee injury, but said he thought it was “mild.” Perine left the field supported under his shoulders, putting no weight on his left leg.
“It’s been a good spring just because some days the offense did better, some days the defense did better,” Turner said. “That’s what you want to see and that was kind of the case today.”