The Panthers of Florida International are coming off of a 33-20 loss at Central Florida. They are 1-2 on the season with a 46-26 loss at Duke to start the year and their lone win a narrow 41-38 victory against Akron at home. This is their last non-conference game of the season. FIU leads the season series with their 24-17 victory on national television over the Cards at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium a year ago.
On Saturday, the Cards will be just the second nationally ranked team to visit Florida International. South Florida visited in 2008.
Under center for the Panthers is redshirt sophomore Jake Medlock (6-3, 225). He played in five games last year, starting just two, but is off to an impressive start this season. He is 59-for-103 for 711 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions in his three starts. He has also rushed for 162 yards and a touchdown. Medlock can do it with both his feet and his arm, but sometimes struggles with accuracy.
In the backfield the Panthers rely on two guys to carry the load; junior Kendrick Rhodes (5-10, 200) and senior Darian Mallary (5-8, 185). Rhodes is the clear leader of the two and is on the 2012 Doak preseason watch list, which recognizes the nation’s top running back. Last year he rushed for a FIU single-season rushing record 1,149 yards, which ranked 40th nationally. In three games this season he has 225 yards on 47 carries and one touchdown. He is also a threat to catch the football as he is second on the team with ten catches and 130 yards. He has two receiving touchdowns.
Mallary is their goalline guy as he has 164 yards on 35 carries and a team-leading five touchdowns. He has two touchdowns in back-to-back games. Like Rhodes, Mallary is also a receiving threat. He ranks fourth on the team in catches and yards with seven for 77.
Their leading receiver is senior Wayne Times (5-11, 190). Times has 17 catches for 182, including nine catches for 114 yards in their season-opening loss at Duke. He was a dangerous return man a season ago, but has yet to return a kick or a punt this season.
The FIU defense is led by a trio of seniors with safety Johnathan Cyprien (6-1, 210), and linebackers Winston Fraser (6-1, 232) and Jordan Hunt (6-1, 230). The trio ranks first, second and third on the team in tackles.
Head coach Mario Cristobal is in his sixth season at FIU. He has led the Panthers to a 16-9 mark in their last 25 games and FIU is just one of 50 schools to make back-to-back bowl games. Prior to becoming the head man at Florida International, he served as an assistant under Larry Coker at the University of Miami.
Filed Under: Football
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