New FIU offensive coordinator David Yost evaluating his options for upcoming season

Mike Caudill/AP
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New FIU offensive coordinator David Yost, in a 20-minute interview with the Miami Herald, talked about how he will evaluate his quarterbacks, what he looks for in receivers and running backs and the importance of blockers and tight ends.

A key member of new FIU coach Mike MacIntyre’s staff, Yost has three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster: transfer Gunnar Holmberg, who started for Duke last season and completed 67 percent of his passes; Grayson James, who was impressive as an FIU backup last season; and third-year player Haden Carlson, who has yet to throw a collegiate pass.

FIU also has two walk-ons, and Yost said there’s a good chance the Panthers will sign a high school passer next month. In addition, after spring football, Yost is open to adding another transfer.

“One of the things I didn’t do a good job of at Texas Tech,” Yost said of his previous stop as offensive coordinator, “is that I didn’t get the quarterback position fixed fast enough.

“If we feel after spring practice [this March-April] that we are not where we need to be at quarterback, there will be options in the transfer portal.”

Ideally, Yost wants a dual-threat QB, and it sounds like he believes all three of his scholarship passers have at least some running ability.

“Gunnar is really fast, but I don’t know that he has a lot of wiggle to make a defender miss,” Yost said. “He ran track in high school. He’s not a stiff guy. He will surprise defenses with his speed.”

James, who went 18 for 27 for 162 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions last year, has a brief history with Yost. While at Texas Tech, Yost scouted a receiver, and James was throwing him the ball.

“He has grown,” Yost said of James, who is 6-1 and 200 pounds. “He’s athletic. He won’t be our fastest guy, but he can run the ball efficiently and throw from different arm angles.”

Yost said he watched Carlson’s high school tape to familiarize himself with the quarterback’s skills.

“I can see why [previous FIU coach Butch Davis] recruited him,” Yost said. “He runs better than what he gets credit for, and I’ve seen what he can do with a football [as a passer].”

Yost, who has coached five quarterbacks who have gone on to play in the NFL — Justin Herbert, Jordan Love, Brad Smith, Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert — prides himself on his ability to evaluate QBs.

“I don’t need to see you get 200 reps to figure out who’s the best guy,” Yost said. “After two or three spring practices, we will decide who we are focusing on. You can’t get five QBs ready for the season. That’s not possible.

“Is everybody going to have an opportunity? Yes. Will everybody have the same opportunity by the end of spring? No.”

As for running backs and wide receivers, Yost said he’s not worried. With the speed and talent available in South Florida, he figures he will have plenty to choose from, although he has a prerequisite.

“I will always give up size for speed,” Yost said. “I never had a guy stand on the sidelines because he was too short. But I’ve had plenty of guys stand on the sidelines because they’re not fast enough.”

Surprisingly, the most important unit in Yost’s offense is not the quarterback. It’s the offensive line.

“Whatever our offensive line can do,” Yost said, “that’s what we will do.”

Adjusting to available personnel is a staple of Yost’s system. He prefers to play a tight end, but only if he has a good one.

Yost also prides himself on having an offense that is simple enough to allow his players to play fast.

“If a guy runs a 4.5, we want him to play that way,” Yost said. “We don’t want him to play like a 4.7 guy because he’s unsure of the plays.”

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