Let's make this clear -- spring football is spring football. Unless you've got an offense of experienced clones or a defense of accounting majors, your offensive execution does well to simply better Obtuse. Screw up, get moved down the depth chart, you've got a few months to rectify the situation before the first game. The Chopped-kitchen sense of urgency of losing your job while the clock of regular season games ticks away isn't there. New guys who might help aren't there yet.
And the Spring Game's ridiculous scoring system, which was changed after the start of the game and had the press box arguing with the scoreboard, reminded me of Fizzbin.
So, the ceiling on enthusiasm about the spring should be just above eye level. That said, here's what we saw at eye level Saturday:
Alex McGough might not start the season as FIU's quarterback, but there's all but an informal pool among those of us media types paying attention as to how many games pass before he gets his first start. If Saturday's Spring Game had a standout offensive player, it was McGough. Yes, he was playing against the second team defense. Yes, in his only series with the first team, he didn't see Dominique Rhymes breaking open on the medium post and went deep instead. And it's not as if E.J. Hilliard didn't look OK Saturday and has looked better this spring than he did last fall (sometimes I wonder, for all the social media fussing from some players wanting Hilliard to play more, why he seems to get hung out to dry so often with drops, bad patterns, etc.).
But McGough already shows a talented arm. His 23-yard throw to Ya'keem Griner Saturday almost taunted defenders on the downward float to Griner's hands. Achingly beautiful, best pass of the day. He tends to make good decisions. Also, his ballhandling is excellent. Most quarterbacks sell a play action fake like they're killing time by throwing game at a girl they don't really like. McGough sells it like he's trying to find Scarlett Johansson's end zone. It's an underrated skill that can exasperate defenders. He said he worked on that facet heavily after his senior season.
The offensive line, a year after recalling The Berlin Wall post-reunification, shows the effects of a year of experience and maturity. There were holes Saturday and the protection usually gave the quarterbacks enough time. The sacks seemed to be Ken O'Brien sacks, where the quarterback holds the ball too long.
Anthon Samuel, Bowling Green transfer, just got cleared from a concussion suffered last fall. His academics are in order. FIU coach Ron Turner hopes Samuel can play again because FIU's short on running backs. Poor Lamarq Caldwell got run as ceaselessly Saturday like he did in some of those games last year. But Shane Coleman ran with the ones, Silas Spearman suffered a knee owwwy (he's lucky it wasn't worse) and Alfonso Randolph still isn't cleared for full contact. Freshmen Alex Gardner and Napoleon Maxwell, that's not a thumping bass you hear. That's Opportunity banging on your door.
Turner wants to redshirt Chris Flaig, a 2013 recruit from Vero Beach who stayed with FIU through the coaching change. Flaig, diagnosed with epilepsy a decade ago, has undergone two brain surgeries in the last year and took several snaps Saturday.
Officially, middle linebacker Luis Rosado has 3 inches and two years experience on Treyvon Williams. Williams possesses instincts, however, that Rosado doesn't have. That's why Williams saw some first team time last season and should this season before long. He named speed, ability to change direction, footwork and eye discipline as what he needed to most work on during the offseason.
"No, there's a reason behind everything," Williams said when I asked if he was surprised he was back on the second team this spring. "Coach has me on second team for a reason. It could be multiple number of things."
The paucity of "explosive plays" -- runs longer than 10 yards, passes longer than 20 yards -- said FIU still doesn't have enough skill position pop and the defense tackles well.