Butch says quarterbacks have made light years of improvement.
The FIU football team’s 2019 season-opener at Tulane is just a bit more than four months away, and that reality became more evident with the conclusion of spring drills on Friday night.
No official stats or score were kept for Friday’s spring-ending scrimmage, but there were some highlights, including Maurice Alexander turning a short red-zone toss into a touchdown and defensive tackle Tayland Humphrey converting a tipped pass into an interception and a score.
FIU kicker Jose Borregales struggled with two missed field goals in the first half, but he booted one true to start the second half of the scrimmage.
Borregales, a junior from Miami’s Booker T. Washington, set an FIU record last year with a 53-yard field goal and made 5-of-6 on kicks of 40-plus yards, earning honorable mention All-Conference USA honors.
“We trust him,” FIU coach Butch Davis said of Borregales. “We think he’s going to be one of the best kickers in the country.”
Beyond that, here are five takeaways regarding FIU’s just-completed spring season:
1: The Lang Gang: Former Miami Hurricanes and NFL defensive end Kennard Lang is in his first season as a collegiate defensive line coach. The four players running with the first team on his unit are ends Noah Curtis and Kevin Oliver and tackles Andrew Tarver and Teair Tart.
On passing downs, Curtis can move inside, and Jason Mercier plays defensive end.
Lang also mentioned redshirt freshman Rashad Colson — who played high school ball at Carol City and Miami Norland — as someone who made major strides this spring after missing last season due to injury.
2: The Cornerstones: Seniors Isaiah Brown and Stantley Thomas-Oliver are the type of tall cornerbacks — 6-1 and 6-2, respectively — that all teams covet and that FIU’s defense will rely on this fall.
Brown has five career interceptions, and Thomas-Oliver — a former wide receiver who converted to cornerback last year — led FIU with 10 pass-breakups in his first season on defense.
3: Noah’s bark: The aforementioned Noah Curtis is too big to argue with at 6-foot-6 and 266 pouns, and he’s also extremely confident.
“I think we are going to go undefeated — no doubt in my mind,” Curtis said. “We’re going to get 40 sacks and 40 tackles for losses.”
The Panthers, who play host to the Miami Hurricanes on Nov. 23 at Marlins Park, finished 9-4 last season, setting a school record for wins.
Even so, FIU will be a major underdog against Miami, and the Panthers will also look to avenge a 49-14 blowout loss they suffered against rival Florida Atlantic.
Curtis, by the way, said he came to FIU as a 225-pounder and has gained 41 pounds in two-plus years.
“Hard work pays off,” said Curtis, whose personal goal for 2019 is 10 sacks.
4: Turner Time? Redshirt sophomore defensive back Josh Turner, who played 11 games last year for the Iowa Hawkeyes, has been impressive this spring, making several big plays on Friday.
“He’s going to be a heck of a player,” new FIU cornerbacks coach Bryn Renner said of Turner, a 6-foot, 185-pounder who played his high school ball at Delray Beach American Heritage.
As per NCAA transfer rules, Turner would have to sit out the 2019 season. But Renner said “we’ll see” when asked if that could change.
“We’re working on that process.”