2022 FIU Golden Panthers Preview

by Matt Fargo

Florida International Golden Panthers

2021-22 Season Record 1-11 (0-8 C-USA East) - 3-9-0 ATS - 8-4-0 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 5
Defense - 4

Overview

Despite returning 19 starters last season, it was a miserable 2021 for the Golden Panthers as they went 1-11 including going winless in the conference. The lone victory came against Long Island in the season opener and while there were a few narrow defeats, most were not even close as they were outscored by an average of over 20 ppg. After five straight losing seasons, head coach Butch Davis put together a 22-14 regular season record over the next three years including three bowl games and then COVID hit and Florida International went 0-5 in 2020, carrying that into last season. Mike MacIntyre takes over after spending time at San Jose St. and Colorado and while success will not come overnight, it was quick rebuilds at those previous stops. He does not have much to work with and it could be another long season but the Golden Panthers could have the right guy in place.

Offense

The offense could not keep up last season despite 10 starters coming back as Florida International finished No. 91 in total offense and No. 115 in scoring offense. It brings back only five starters this season and is pretty much starting over. Coming into fall camp, Gunnar Holmberg looks to take over at quarterback after coming over from Duke where he completed 67 percent of his passes for 2,358 yards but had only seven touchdowns to go along with eight interceptions but he has a chance for success in a new up tempo offense. Leading receiver Tyrese Chambers and his 1,074 yards are back along with a slew of transfers for him to get the ball to if he can stay upright as the Golden Panthers allowed 41 sacks last season. The offensive line is a rebuild with two starters back and the running game needs a boost as well with the leading returning back having just 273 yards.

Defense

While the offense was bad last season, the defense was even worse as the Golden Panthers were ranked No. 115 or worse in all four major defensive categories. There is very little experience on this side at all three levels and the defensive line is the strength heading into the season, if you can call it a strength. There was no pass rush to speak of as Florida International generated only 15 sacks, tied for No. 122 in the country which led opposing quarterbacks having their way downfield. That was the problem for the secondary as they allowed 262.8 ypg and have to replace both corners while the safeties have limited experience. The top four tacklers are gone which puts pressure on the linebackers that are young and inexperienced and the leader could be Donovan Manuel, a transfer from East Tennessee St. They had just eight takeaways and that needs to substantially increase.

2022 Season Outlook

For a team that has gone 1-17 over its last 18 games, not much can be expected and that is the case here for the Golden Panthers that are building for the future. Almost everything is brand new from top to bottom and MacIntyre has been here before and has succeeded so gradual progress is all that can be asked for at this point. Like last season, they open with a team from the FCS, a home game against Bryant but then it is three straight road games sandwiched around a bye although two of those are against teams in similar situations. A nonconference home game against Connecticut follows and there are two or three possible wins in those first five games. The remainder of the C-USA slate is not horrible but will be difficult to navigate. The O/U win total is 3 and that is right where it should be so it will take some upsets to surpass it and while unlikely, it is possible. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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