11 September 2009
Let down. Those two words have been thrown around this week after Alabama’s big 34-24 win over Virginia Tech. After beating Clemson last year only to struggle in a 20-6 win over Tulane, perhaps that phrase should be bandied about this week as the Tide prepares for the home opener against Florida International.
While FIU hasn’t played yet this season, I would definitely take last year’s Green Wave team over this year’s Golden Panther team. FIU has only been playing football since 2002 but a lot of experts see them as a young South Florida, a young program on the rise.
This week’s edition of In the Film Room will be a short one since there isn’t any film on FIU as of yet. Keep reading for some of the key Golden Panthers to look for as well as what they might try to do against the Tide.
FIU returns 10 of 11 starters on offense with only running back Darriett Perry new to the lineup. The sophomore did play in two games a year ago, rushing for 115 yards and two touchdowns.
Perry may not be much of a factor, however, due not only to Bama’s rush defense but also to FIU’s offensive philosophy. The Golden Panthers spread the field and throw the ball all over the place. Quarterback Paul McCall threw for 2,332 yards last year as a junior to go with 15 touchdowns.
The player to watch for FIU is wide receiver T Y Hilton. Hilton measures in at only 5’10” 175 but the sophomore is a big play threat, averaging 25 yards per catch and 180 all purpose yards in 2008.
Linebacker Scott Bryant led FIU in tackles in 2008 with 89. Anchoring the middle of their 4-3 defense in Jonas Murrell, who comes in a couple of dinners shy of Terrance Cody at 340lb.
Cornerback Anthony Gaitor appears to have drawn the short straw this week and will be charged with covering Julio Jones. Although, if last week was any indication he will most assuredly have help. Gaitor did amass 44 tackles in 2008 to go along with nine passes broken up.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Look for Alabama to pound the ball on the ground against the undersized Golden Panther defense. With the injury to Mark Ingram, look for freshman Trent Richardson to get more than the three carries he lad last week.
I do believe, however, that the Tide will be aggressive in the passing game early in part to shake the malaise that might have set in after the Tech win and also to get Greg McElroy as much game experience as possible.
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