The Panthers will scrimmage Saturday morning with the season opener just two weeks away. Saturday marks the 15th of 23 practices this month for FIU.
Will either quarterback E.J. Hilliard or Alex McGough take noticeable strides in the competition for the starting job? Hilliard has looked more in command of the offense this month than he did last year. Hilliard is also throwing the ball with more authority. McGough has the physical tools to be the starter but how well he handles the speed of the game may determine who is under center against Bethune-Cookman on Aug. 30.
There has been a lot of shuffling between the 1s and the 2s when it comes to the receiving corps in camp. Which receivers are going to stand out in the final week of camp and claim starting jobs? The young receivers are pushing the veterans. Freshmen Dennis Turner and Thomas Owens have impressed. Lately, Dominique Rhymes (above) has been consistent catching the football. Glenn Coleman has starting receiver talent. I know he's a recent kicker-turned-receiver but Cody Hodgens can help this team. He's not afraid of catching passes in traffic.
With Lars Koht out with a foot injury there have been more reps for other defensive tackles to try and earn more playing time. Darrian Dyson has had a solid week in camp with several tackles for losses. Marques Cheeks can also get more playing time with a good finish to camp. The interior of the defensive line and the linebackers could be key to how well the defense performs in 2014 because there is a lack of game experience on both units.
It will be interesting to see how well the offensive line performs in more of a game-like setting in Saturday's scrimmage. I think the line has done a decent job in both pass and run blocking during 11-on-11s in practice. I would like to see more of a push in short yardage situations. The improvement of the offense from 2013 to 2014 starts with the O-line.
There's a pretty good battle going on between Demarkus Perkins, Justin Halley and Jordan Davis for the two starting safety spots. All three are capable of being reliable starters against the pass and the run. Which two safeties are going to end up starting?
Which punter is going to outkick the other three candidates and take the job. Chris Ayers, Karson Dietrich, Jose Laphitzondo and Luke Medlock have not been as consistent as special teams coach Shannon Moore would like. For a team like FIU that is trying to take a step forward a dependable punter is huge because of the hidden yardage game. You can't have opponents consistently starting in good field position because that will wear on a defense.