FIU played a thriller Saturday, pulling out a close 28-21 victory over Sun Belt Conference foe Western Kentucky. The Panthers seemed to have the game in control leading 21-0 in the first-half when WKU decided to make a game of it. Both teams played well, with FIU making a few more plays at the end. WKU showed that they are much improved and almost tied the game on a fourth down pass that was broken up by Dez Johnson. If the Hilltoppers can find some more consistancy at quarterback, I have no doubt that they can win some game.
For the first time this season FIU, showed they have the guts to tough out a close win. The game might not have been everything FIU fans wanted, but to see the team rally and play back is a good sign.
FIU coach Mario Cristobal said during Monday's Sun Belt conference call that, Jeremiah Harden was going to evaluated on Monday by doctors. Harden missed the Western Kentucky game with an undisclosed injury. 790theticket.com reported that Harden had suffered a concussion. After the game on Saturday, Cristobal stopped short of calling Harden's injury a concussion, saying Harden played a physical game against Pittsburgh and was going to be evaluated.
TV for North Texas
Chances are the game will be picked up locally by CSS. Game will also be on ESPN3.com.
Here are a few positives and negatives observations.
QB play - positive
Wes Carroll had 12 completions on 19 attempts for 108 yards and an interception. Carroll's low yard total is due to FIU running only 53 total plays (19 pass, 34 run). On his 12 completions, Carroll connected with seven different receivers, including three passes to T.Y. Hilton (left. Andrew Uloza, For the Miami Herald). Carroll was effective and was able to protect the ball. Carroll has done a job good of avoiding the pass rush. Carroll's only mistake came on a poorly timed crossing pattern that missed the receiver and ended up in a defensive back's hands. Carroll has continued to improve in each game he has played. The Panthers' offense was able to move the ball early but had trouble late in the game after WKU adjusted.
Running - positive
Without Jeremiah Harden, the Panthers made easy work of the Hilltoppers' defense. FIU had 235 yards rushing, using three running backs: Darriet Perry, Darian Mallary and Kedrick Rhodes (left, Andrew Uloza, For the Miami Herald.)
FIU scored four rushing touchdowns, with Carroll and Hilton getting into the mix. It was good to see FIU move the ball on the ground. FIU was held to a season-low 93 yards against Pittsburgh. The team did not fare much better against Maryland 117 yards and Texas A&M 115 yards. Granted, in two of the three games FIU had to pass more, since they were playing from behind. Coach Mario Cristobal said after the game that the team would continue to use short, quick passes to augment the running game.
Special teams - negative
FIU punter Josh Brisk needs to work on his consistency. Brisk kicked a couple of short punts that set up WKU in FIU territory. Brisk did pin the Hilltoppers deep in their own territory on a 45-yard punt, so some credit is due. Brisk nearly pinned WKU deep in its territory a second time by the ball brushed the front of the goal line.
Defense - positive and negative
The defense played better than last week against Pittsburgh, but there is still need for improvement. FIU held WKU to 299 yards of total offense. FIU needs to improve on third down, WKU converted 9 of 18 tries and tackling. You have to give credit to the FIU defense for the way they battled through a tough stretch in the second and third quarter when WKU controlled the ball. (Picture is of Toronto Smith #13, Gregory Hickman #55, Chuck Grace #21. Andrew Uloza, For the Miami Herald)
FIU recorded three sacks.
Here's a shot of the Dazzlers (Andrew Uloza, For the Miami Herald) on Saturday .