FIU Panthers football coach Butch Davis said Tuesday he is not planning lineup changes, but he is demanding more discipline.
Of the 14 teams in Conference USA, FIU (1-3, 0-2) has the worst league record. Nine C-USA teams have yet to play a league game, however.
“I’m going to take responsibility as the coach,” Davis said. “We’ve allowed some undisciplined things to happen during the course of the [practice] week, assuming they are seniors, they are leaders or returning starters, and they’ll get it fixed on game days.”
Unfortunately for the Panthers, those bad practice habits have led to a lack of focus on game days. Davis cited running back Anthony Jones’ goal-line fumble in Friday’s 43-31 loss to Louisiana Tech as an example.
“Trying to reach the ball over the goal-line with one hand instead of two,” Davis said.
Another case of a lack of discipline resulted in FIU left tackle D’Ante Demery getting ejected with 51 seconds left for “throwing a punch,” according to the referee.
As per the NCAA ejection rule, Demery will be forced to sit out the first half of FIU’s next game, Oct. 5 against visiting Massachusetts.
“A little bit is frustration,” Davis said when asked about Demery, who had been beaten for at least one sack in the Louisiana Tech game.
“You have to maintain your poise. You can’t go out there and cheap-shot guys or hit guys late. Not only does it hurt you in that game, but it will hurt you down the line [Demery having to sit out the first half].”
FIU right tackle Devontay Taylor was hit with perhaps the cruelest penalty of the Louisiana Tech game.
To set the scene, FIU quarterback James Morgan — who had missed the previous game due to a knee injury — scored on a surprising, 15-yard run but was popped late by Louisiana Tech cornerback Aaron Roberson. The hit occurred about four yards into the end zone, but Roberson was not penalized.
Taylor was then hit with a 15-yard penalty when he shoved Roberson in defense of his quarterback. Louisiana Tech used that penalty to get great field position — its own 45 — on the ensuing kickoff, and the Bulldogs made a field goal on the final play of the first half.
Morgan said he is not worried about late hits.
“I appreciate [my linemen],” Morgan said. “They are my best friends on the team. I would do anything for them, and I appreciate that they have my back.”
Davis, though, said he wasn’t pleased with Taylor’s decision.
“We tell them not to do it,” Davis said of a retribution-type hit. “You can’t control the officials, whether they make bad calls or not.
“I understand [Taylor] wanting to protect James after him having a knee injury and getting late-hit in the end zone. But you have to be smart enough to stay away because those things can come back to haunt you at the end of a game.”
This and that
▪ Davis said he will continue to have a package of plays ready for backup quarterback Kaylan Wiggins, who ran for a school QB record 187 yards in his only start, against New Hampshire, but was far less successful in limited work against Louisiana Tech (two carries, three yards).
▪ Former FIU quarterback Christian Alexander-Stevens, who is now the starter at Wagner, was back in South Florida this past Saturday as his new team took a 42-7 loss at Florida Atlantic. Alexander-Stevens completed 22-of-38 passes for 218 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.