The preseason scrimmage at FIU Stadium on Sunday night resembled most of the preseason games filling NFL Network’s schedule:
A couple of series for the guys the coaches know will be on the bus; Raggedy Andy offense torn apart by stronger defense early, then knitting together some scoring drives later; a lot of time for the newbies, as indicated by the last play — freshman quarterback Maurice Alexander freezing freshman cornerback Emmanuel Lubin and hitting freshman Mark Hutchinson with a 37-yard touchdown bomb.
That’s FIU Future. As far as FIU Now, “both sides did some good things,” coach Ron Turner said.
“It was good to get coaches off the field as best we could. We were down here, but we weren’t on the field. We were off and letting them play. We weren’t screaming, telling them what to do and correcting mistakes. Just go play.”
In the offensive line reshuffling following the season-ending injury to two-year left guard starter Jordan Budwig, redshirt freshman Chris Miller got most of the work. Junior Michael Montero took over at center. Senior Aaron Nielsen, who had moved to center from right tackle, moved back later in the scrimmage.
Early in the scrimmage, redshirt freshman Kai Absheer was the first-team right tackle.
Both the first- and second-team offenses looked flat until sophomore quarterback Alex McGough threaded a throw through cornerback Richard Leonard to sophomore Thomas Owens for 13 yards on third-and-5.
That first of consecutive 13-yard completions to Owens ignited a drive that ended with McGough rolling out and hitting freshman Anthony Jones out of the slot for a 1-yard touchdown.
Redshirt sophomore Silas Spearman, who sat out what would’ve been his sophomore year after a knee injury, got the first-team goal line carries that probably would’ve gone to sophomore Napoleon Maxwell had Maxwell not suffered Spearman’s sophomore year fate.
Maxwell tore an anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee just making a basic cut. He’ll redshirt this season following surgery.
The running backs who tied for FIU’s rushing lead last year — sophomore Alex Gardner and fifth-year senior Anthon Samuel — got some carries early in the scrimmage, then joined junior tight end Jonnu Smith on the sideline.
After the Jones touchdown, redshirt freshman Bud Martin led the second-team offense down the field to a 6-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Akil Dan-Fodio.
The first-string defense missed two-thirds of its starting linebackers. Senior outside linebacker Davison Colimon (concussion) and junior middle linebacker Treyvon Williams (ankle) are expected back Tuesday when FIU resumes practice.
Predictably, the safeties at the top of the depth chart, junior Wilkenson Myrtil and sophomore Niko Gonzalez, got a few more snaps than the rest of the first unit. FIU filled its only lost starter holes on defense by moving Gonzalez up the depth chart and moving Myrtil over from cornerback.
“The only thing that’s really different about safety from corner is really fitting in the box now,” Myrtil said. “We have to come up and make the tackle, being the last line of defense.”
Gonzalez, a Hialeah High graduate, said, “Tackling’s always something I have to work on as well as flying to the ball.”