FIU opened spring football practice Monday morning with the roles switched for its offense and defense. In recent years the Panthers defense was the known commodity and strength of the team while the offense was finding its footing. Flip the script for 2016.
With nearly the entire FIU offense back and with several key defenders lost to graduation, the Panthers know what they have offensively. But defensively, they will try to figure out who will replace defensive stalwarts such as Michael Wakefield, Denzell Perine, Richard Leonard and Jeremiah McKinnon.
A couple of defensive linemen who could have prominent roles later this fall are Fermin Silva and Newton Salisbury. Silva, the sophomore out of Miami Central, looked bigger than last season when he played at 230 pounds. The added bulk didn’t seem to slow Silva down during team drills when he got into the offensive backfield. Silva could vie for one of the defensive end jobs that Wakefield and Perine were so productive in the past few seasons.
Quarterback Alex McGough looked sharp throwing the ball. McGough said that with this being the third year in the FIU offense for most players it has become second nature.
Barry University is headed back to the NCAA Division II tournament for the third consecutive year.
The Buccaneers (23-6) earned the No. 3 seed, and will meet sixth-seeded Rollins (21-8) in the opening round Saturday in Huntsville, Alabama. This will mark the third meeting between the two schools this year. Barry split the regular season series with the Tars.
The Buccaneers will be making their sixth trip to the NCAA tournament in the program’s history.