On Friday, the FIU Panthers will try to stop Clemson Tigers transfer Zerrick Cooper

Walter Villa
·2 min read

The FIU Panthers, the only winless football team playing in Conference USA this year, will get a chance to earn its first victory on Friday night against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks.

Because of a reported outbreak of COVID-19 cases, FIU (0-2, 0-1) postponed its scheduled game last week at Charlotte.

FIU’s two losses are by a total of just five points. One of the teams that beat FIU is Liberty, which is 5-0 and earned its first-ever win over a Power Five team this past Saturday, defeating Syracuse, 38-21.

Jacksonville State (2-1), an FBS team, is listed as a 10.5-point underdog against FIU. The Gamecocks, in their season opener, led Florida State 14-0 before losing, 41-24. After that, the Gamecocks beat Mercer, 34-28; and North Alabama, 24-17.

FIU has had trouble with both of the quarterbacks it has faced this season, and that position could present a problem again Friday.

Against Liberty, Malik Willis — an Auburn transfer — tormented FIU by completing 24-of-30 passes for 285 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for 85 yards and a 6.5 average.

Next up, FIU intercepted Middle Tennessee quarterback Asher O’Hara twice. However, O’Hara passed for 268 yards and two TDs and ran for 106 yards and two more scores.

Now comes Gamecocks fifth-year quarterback Zerrick Cooper, who is a Clemson transfer. Cooper is completing 67.1 percent of his passes this season. He has been intercepted just once, and he is averaging 205 passing yards per game.

He has also run for 89 yards and five touchdowns, making him the third straight dual-threat quarterback FIU has faced this year.

Meanwhile, FIU has yet to announce its starting quarterback.

Panthers coach Butch Davis has used three QBs this season — Maryland transfer Max Bortenschlager, who started the opener; fourth-year junior Kaylan Wiggins, who started their second game; and redshirt freshman Stone Norton, who has been the team’s most impressive passer so far this season.

FIU is powered by senior running back D’vonte Price, who leads Conference USA in rushing yards per game (130) and per attempt (10.0).

Panthers kick returner Lexington “Flex” Joseph leads the league in all-purpose yards per game (200.0).

Norton leads C-USA in passing efficiency, although he has only thrown 18 passes.

FIU’s football team made a dubious list this week, checking in at No. 2 on ESPN’s “Bottom 10”, which includes a total of four Conference USA schools.