Miami, FL – You know what? It feels good to be back. Back at “The Cage” for the start of the 2018 college football season. Back to witness the evolution of the Butch Davis era now entering year two. Back to having football every weekend for the next five months. YES! #Sponer

FIU came into Saturday night seeking to make history by finally defeating a Big Ten school. Having gone 0-10 all-time against the conference. The Panthers took the early 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Unfortunately, the record would go to 0-11 after the Panthers could not rebound from 21 unanswered points by the Hoosiers. Indiana would win 38-28. Before we dive into the stats, let revisit how we got here first.

The last time we saw the Panthers play an actual game, we were up at Tropicana Field in Tampa, for the Bad Boys Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. That night marked the end of the Alex McGough era at FIU. Tonight, for the first time in over four years, we had no QB certainty. What we have for the first time in a long time is an actual QB battle. Christian Alexander, the redshirt junior, and James Morgan, also a redshirt junior transfer from Bowling Green are battling to replace the huge void left by the departure of McGough to the draft. Alexander only saw action in four games at QB in 2016. Completing 20-of-34 passes for 216 yards and 4 TDs. Morgan threw for over 2,000 yards as a freshman in Bowling Green in only seven starts. Morgan started the game tonight but was replaced after a few series and an interception by Alexander. Morgan would come back in for some second half action. Showing flashes at times of why I think he will eventually win the full-time job.

Coach Butch Davis addressed the QB situation in his postgame press conference, stating how tight the battle has been throughout Spring and camp. He Expects the rotation of QB’s to continue for the next few games until one of them separates from the other and wins the job outright.

Baptism under fire. That’s what coach called tonight. Eight Panthers made their first starts in an FIU uniform tonight and another seven made their debuts as well. Thankfully the O-line is intact from last year. That stability should bring the best out of the QB’s. A welcomed sight tonight was the return of Anthony Jones. The redshirt senior was sidelined all of 2017 due to injury. He had gained 805 yards on 164 carries and six TD’s prior to getting hurt. The dude came to work tonight, carrying the ball 15 times and gaining 91 yards and two TD’s (including a 36 yards TD run) in his return to action. Actually, the Panthers did a good job on the ground as a whole, rushing for 170 yards and averaging 4.4 yards per carry. In the air, they left much to be desired, only throwing for 157 yards, 1 TD and an interception as a unit.

It’s only natural to look back at last season and see what kind of carryover we can have. Last year was a banner year for the Panthers, as FIU matched the program record wins (8) and earned the schools third bowl birth ever. Looking a little closer, the Panthers finished 5-3 and second overall in the C-USA East Division, which marked the highest finish ever for the football program since entering C-USA in 2013. More reasons to be excited about the rest of the season, FIU earned the #1 ranked recruiting class in C-USA. Also, teams in the second year under Butchy Mane have all won at least eight games (Miami – 9, Cleveland Browns – 9, UNC – 8).

I know Indiana is not an Ohio State or Michigan, but they’re still a Big Ten school, so the Panthers did put up 28 points on a Big Ten school. However, a loss sucks, plain and simple. I just can’t help but feel like we let this one get away. Did they beat us or did we beat ourselves? Two fumbles and a pick-six makes me lean more with the latter. Now the focus shifts to next week and the start of conference play. FIU takes to the road for its next game. The Panthers travel to Norfolk, Virginia to take on Old Dominion next Saturday, Sept. 8 at 7:30 p.m. Give Butchy a week to review the tapes and I’m sure we’ll be back on track next week in Norfolk.

Did you know?

FIU finished the 2017 regular season leading the nation in red zone scoring offense, converting 98 percent of its red-zone chances (40-41), which included 30 touchdowns.

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Edwin Garcia
Known as EdLose or EddyWins depending on the streak. One of the founding members of the Lemonsiders. World traveler and a walking database of unnecessary, useless sports information. I’m the cynical calming voice of reason on the show. I’m a creator of great things. Co-host and creative guru of Lemon City. I dish out the hot sports take on a daily, ask Hipster Rick. I LOVE uniforms and am a collector of vintage baseball caps.

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