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Marshall football Game 7: Fla. International

AP photo
FIU quarterback E.J. Hilliard

n Date with Marshall: Saturday, Oct. 18, time TBA

n Site: FIU Stadium (20,000, FieldTurf), Miami

n Series: Marshall leads 1-0

n Last game: Marshall 48, FIU 10, Nov. 23, 2013 at Miami

n Coach: Ron Turner (second year at FIU, 1-11; 11th year overall, 43-72)

Checking them out

Let’s put FIU’s plight this way: The Panthers are so lightly regarded, at least six games will be televised by the infant (and low in the pecking order) American Sports Network.

After last year, they should be. FIU was one last-play blocked field goal from being the worst team in the FBS.

The Panthers probably were anyway — remember they got worked over 34-13 by Bethune-Cookman. They were outscored 444-117 and outgained by 2,500 total yards.

So what does coach Ron Turner do in year two of his unexpected tenure? He recruits the Sunshine State really hard.

Look at the list of February signees, because a lot of them may play. Consider Jordan Ingraham, a 6-foot-2, 315-pound defensive lineman, who could play alongside defensive end Anthony Johnson. If they’re both eligible, of course.

E.J. Hilliard, who hit the deck seven times against Marshall, returns at quarterback. He has some big targets in 6-foot-4 Dominique Rhymes and 6-2 tight end Jonnu Smith (39 rec., 388 yards). Guard Jordan Budwig has taken his lumps, having started all 12 games last year as a true freshman.

On defense, FIU lost a lot of starters, and that’s a good thing. The Panthers will have some experience in the secondary, where CB Richard Leonard returns after a year of academic ineligibility.

Handicap this program at your own peril. Most or all of the above could be rendered moot by the time Marshall arrives.

All-conference candidates

n Offense: C Donald Senat, TE Jonnu Smith, WR Dominique Rhymes

n Defense: CB Richard Leonard, S Justin Halley, S Demarkus Perkins

n Special teams: KR Richard Leonard

Notes

FIU’s return to ineptitude helped end its two-game streak over Florida Atlantic in the Shula Bowl. The Owls own a 9-3 lead in that series. FIU is 43-99 since launching its program in 2002. The Panthers were 15-11 in 2009-10, 28-88 in all other seasons. The Panthers host Louisville a year after the Cardinals dealt them a 72-0 pounding. FIU gained 27 total yards in that disaster.

2014 schedule

Aug. 30 Bethune-Cookman L, 13-34

Sept. 6 Wagner DNP

Sept. 13 Pittsburgh DNP

Sept. 20 Louisville L, 0-72

Sept. 26 (Fri) at UAB* L, 24-27

Oct. 2 (Thur) Fla. Atlantic* L, 6-21

Oct. 11 at Texas-San Antonio* DNP

Oct. 18 Marshall* L, 10-48

Nov. 1 Rice* DNP

Nov. 8 at Old Dominion* DNP

Nov. 15 Middle Tennessee* L, 0-48

Nov. 22 at North Texas DNP

*Conference USA games

2013 record: 1-11, 1-7 C-USA (T-5th East Division)

Dropped: Maryland (L, 10-43), Central Florida (L, 0-38), Southern Miss (W, 24-23), Louisiana Tech (L, 7-23), East Carolina (L, 13-34), Texas-El Paso (L, 10-33)

— DOUG SMOCK


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