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Florida International Football Preview
by Matt Fargo - 06/13/2008
No. 119 Florida International Golden Panthers
2007 Record ~ 1-11 SU ~ 5-7 ATS
Starters Returning ~ Offense (9) Defense (7)
While arch-rival Florida Atlantic is not only making strides in the Sun Belt Conference but also across the state and the country, Florida International seems to be stuck in neutral. If not for the transitional Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, the Golden Panthers would be put in the bottom spot. They finished 1-11 last season and things do not look a lot better for the 2008 campaign. The program is still very young and there is still transition going on so it is all about baby steps still.
The offense last season was horrendous and that is putting it kindly. The passing offense finished 117th, rushing offense finished 98th and total finished 118th which led to an average of 15.1 ppg which was dead last in the nation. There is good news heading into this season and that is the fact there are nine starters returning to the unit and a year of experience should be a good thing. However, a new system is in place so whatever was learned last season needs to be thrown out to start over again.
While the offense is likely going to struggle, it will be up to the defense to carry the load early on. And even though the stop unit was 105th in total defense and 115th in scoring defense a season ago, there are enough pieces in place for that to happen. Allowing over 39 ppg doesnâ€™t bode a lot of confidence going into 2008 but with seven starters back along with the return of safety Jeremiah Weatherspoon, things are looking up. This defense isnâ€™t going to win games but it will be better.
Even if the offense can come together right away and the defense does its job, it isnâ€™t going to mean wins or covers. The early schedule is brutal once again as is the case for most small schools. The Golden Panthers begin the season on the road in six of their first eight games including roadies at Kansas, Iowa and Toledo. One of those two home contests is against South Florida so things are not going to be easy. This is a team to stay away from early on and will be a play against despite the likely big spreads to cover.