Wednesday marked the final two-a-day practices of FIU camp as the Panthers are 10 days away from the season opener against Bethune-Cookman. As usual it was another scorcher of a practice at FIU Stadium and Wednesday morning's practice was just as heated. The Panthers probably hit each other as hard as they have all camp Wednesday with full tackling going on in the morning practice.
The full-contact tackling allowed some of the running backs to work for extra yardage instead of play being stopped at the first sign of contact as has been the case in previous practices. Lamarq Caldwell ran up the middle on one play, found no room and bounced off a tackle for 13 yards.
Alex Gardner had a gritty 10-yard run between the tackles. Gardner has already shown he can sing in camp when he sang in the team's talent competition. Wednesday, Gardner displayed his dance moves after catching a short pass from E.J. Hilliard. Gardner shook a defender out of his shoes and gained 14 yards. Shane Coleman broke two tackles on an 8-yard touchdown run.
The quarterbacks aired it out during 11-on-11. Hilliard connected with De'Andre Jasper for a 71-yard touchdown where Hilliard perfectly placed the ball over the defender so that only Jasper (below) could make the catch. Jasper also caught a 13-yard pass from Hilliard.
Tight end Akil-Dan Fodio continued his good camp catching the ball. Dan-Fodio hauled in an 18-yard pass from Hilliard. Dan-Fodio played tight end for the first time in his life two years ago but has looked like he's been playing the position for a much longer time.
Receiver T.J. Lowder had a productive day catching a 72-yard touchdown pass in stride from Alex McGough. Near the end of practice Lowder went up between two defenders to grab an 18-yard pass from Hilliard to set up Coleman's 8-yard touchdown run.
The pass defense did have its moments with linebacker Patrick Jean nearly intercepting a pass which would have been a pick six. Jean knocked down the ball for an incompletion.
McGough was intercepted on back-to-back throws. Freshman safety Niko Gonzalez intercepted his fifth pass of camp when he stepped in front of the receiver. Wilkenson Myrtil picked off McGough on the next play by the sideline. Gonzalez has a nose for the football with five picks in his first college camp. On one of the final series Wednesday, Gonzalez and Vontarius West teamed to force a fumble by Silas Spearman. Freshman cornerback Bobby Stinson scooped up the ball and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown.
McGough bounced back with a 39-yard strike to Cody Hodgens over the middle. Hodgens keeps finding a way to get open and catching the ball. McGough later threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Dan-Fodio.
Denzell Perine and freshman defensive lineman Anthony Johnson each recorded a sack. Darrian Dyson has been working with the first team at tackle in the last several practices after what has been a solid camp for the junior from New Orleans.
Freshman defensive lineman Justin Sibole knocked down a pass at the line of scrimmage. Michael Wakefield bull rushed past the offensive line and tackled Alfonso Randolph six yards deep in the offensive backfield. Three more camp practices remain before game week preparations begin for B-CU.