Speaking to the Miami Herald on Thursday – exactly three weeks before the 2022 season opener against visiting Bryant University – FIU offensive coordinator David Yost still doesn’t know the identity of his starting quarterback.
Ex-Duke starter Gunnar Holmberg is battling FIU holdovers Grayson James and Haden Carlson, and all three are rotating with the first and second teams. True freshman Amare Jones could be a starting quarterback in the future, but, for now, he runs the third team.
“Decision-making and accuracy are what that position comes down to,” Yost said when asked about quarterbacks. “You recruit on talent, but the guys play on the decisions they make and how accurate they are with the football.
“Guys have good days. Guys have bad days. It’s a real competitive group.”
Besides the QBs, Yost commented on the other position battles on FIU’s offense.
At tight end, for example, Rivaldo Fairweather seems the likely starter after he caught 16 passes for 247 yards and one TD last year.
However, since FIU has not yet announced an official depth chart, it is interesting to note which players Yost mentioned first while fielding position-by-position questions from The Herald.
“That whole group has been really strong – Rivaldo, (Iowa transfer) Josiah Miamen and Jackson McDonald,” Yost said when asked about his tight ends.
“Rivaldo in the run game is a dominant guy. He swallows guys.”
McDonald, who doubles as a long-snapper, was mentioned third, yet he also drew perhaps the most raves.
“Jackson had a great summer,” Yost said. “He has come back and been consistent every day.”
Yost said his offense doesn’t use two tight-end sets often, making the battle to start even more important. He also mentioned a fourth tight end, Kamareon Williams, praising him for “explosive plays.”
At wide receiver, Tyrese Chambers is one of the best in the nation after his breakthrough 2021 season that featured 1,074 yards and nine touchdowns.
After Chambers, here’s the order on who Yost mentioned and what he said: “Dean Patterson, Jalen Bracey … Mike Jackson, a freshman (from Miami Palmetto) has come in and done a tremendous job.”
Yost said Kris Mitchell missed some time in the spring due to injury but has returned. Yost said Indiana transfer Jacolby Hewitt appears much more comfortable with the offense now as opposed to the spring.
“(Hewitt) is making plays,” said Yost, who then mentioned Syracuse transfer Sharod Johnson, Jay Barry Jr. and Nate Jefferson. “We have a lot of playmakers at receiver.”
Yost said the No. 1 attribute he wants in a receiver is the “ability to catch the ball in competitive situations.”
Next, he wants receivers who can do something after the catch.
“And the part that doesn’t get talked about enough but we’ve been harping on lately is blocking,” Yost said. “Our run and screen games are predicated on our perimeter guys blocking. We were better at it in spring than we are right now.
“Hewitt normally dominates (on blocks), Chambers gets after it, and Bracey likes to hit, but he can do more in terms of sustaining contact.”
On the offensive line, Yost first mentioned Jacob Peace, who spent the past four years at an FCS program, Virginia Military. Yost also mentioned junior-college transfer Deyavie Hammond, returning starter Lyndell Hudson Jr. and true freshman John Bock II.
Yost said running back is “maybe not the deepest position on the team,” but he expressed confidence in EJ Wilson, Lexington “Flex” Joseph and Kejon Owens.
“They’ve all made explosive plays,” Yost said. “EJ has been as steady and consistent as you can get. Flex has been dinged up, but we’re in good hands.”
Yost said running back Antonio Patterson, a true freshman from Tennessee, has shown “flashes”, especially as a pass-catcher.
“Make somebody miss,” Yost said when asked what he’s looking for in a running back. “We’re going to try to block them all, but that doesn’t always happen. Can you make something out of nothing?”