Written by TJ Inman
It was halftime at the “Bounce House” in Orlando, Florida and the FIU Golden Panthers trailed their in-state rivals, the Central Florida Knights, 14-3 at halftime. Despite the deficit and a history of lackluster results, head coach Ron Turner was confident his team would turn things around in the second thirty minutes.
“I think these guys have confidence,” Turner told the media this week. “They’re a mature team right now with some confidence and at halftime they were very calm, first of all, I told them they had bad field position in the first half and we turned the ball over, but we’re only down 14-3, so we’re in good shape,” Turner continued. “That’s what we talked about going into the game, just stay the course, stick to our game, weather the storm and keep playing and things will work out in our favor.”
Turner’s confidence and plan was rewarded in the second half as his team erased the 11-point deficit and shut out the Knights during the final two quarters to win 15-14. Just two seasons ago, the Panthers were shellacked by Central Florida, 38-0. Progress on both sides of the ball is evident and IU will have its hands full on Saturday night. Ron Turner talked about what he saw when he watched the Hoosiers week one victory over SIU.
“I see a good team. They had nine guys suspended. Defensively, they have six guys out, four of them are stars. I think that really has an effect on them. Southern Illinois had a really good game, they did a good job, but I see Indiana as a really good team. They have five starters back on defense and are very physical up front, a Big Ten team. They have a very balanced attack…their offensive line is back for the most part, and they’re big, physical and talented.”
Ron Turner believes the keys to victory are the same as any other week, stop the run and protect the ball. “It always comes down to stopping the run and protecting the ball. The biggest thing is take care of our business, take care of us, execute, focus and be as prepared as we were last week.”
On Saturday night, FIU and the Indiana Hoosiers will meet on the football field for the first time in history. The Panthers will be looking for their first victory over a B1G opponent. More importantly, both schools will be trying to get their second win of the season as they quest for a berth in a bowl game.