August 20, 2014

Early line on Bethune-Cookman at FIU

FIU believers, here's your chance to back up your belief with some bucks. Or, just give you something to talk about if you run into Brent Musberger or Al Michaels at a party.

The website 5dimes.com, to which I was alerted by 940WINZ sports radio host Andy Slater, has posted the first line I've seen on FIU's season opener Aug. 30 against Bethune-Cookman. The site rates the Wildcats 4.5-point favorites over the Panthers in the Cat Fight at The Cage.

Last year, FIU opened as the favorite, but Bethune went off as the favorite at kickoff and covered in a 34-13 win. The over/under in that game was 47, by the way.

 

A Weak NFL-FIU Second Week

For those FIU football alums trying to get some NFL traction, Week 2 of the NFL preseason was ice.

In Minnesota, defensive tackle Isame Faciane spent his time on the field getting stood up by Arizona guard Anthony Steen, out of Alabama. Faciane had a couple of good plays including being one of several pass rushers who made Arizona's line resemble the just-opened doors to a Popeye's. But after Steen tossed Faciane down on a pass rush, he was taken out for several plays. Then again, it might have been normal rotation.  

Defensive tackle Greg Hickman had a tackle assist and a declined hands to the face penalty for the Lions against Oakland.

In the Cornerback Camp Bodies line, Sam Miller had two fourth quarter tackles on Pittsburgh receptions for Buffalo. Junior Mertile, now in Houston, had a tackle on a 24-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter against Atlanta.

 

August 17, 2014

Thank you...

...to the FIU fans who contacted me and with whom I met with over the last three days for the video and quick interviews I needed for our preseason football section. While the Panther fan base might be the Luxembourg of the college football world, there's rarely a lacking for patriotism among those I meet.

What I was asked to do for the section is done. I'd still like to get some quick hit thoughts on this season from other FIU fans on video.

Right now, I'm going to watch some video, as in recorded NFL preseason games with Greg Hickman and Isame Faciane (if I didn't oops up the settings).

August 13, 2014

Looking For A Few Good Fans

The theme across our preseason football sections this year is "Fan Favorites." I need to find a few FIU fans to photograph and talk about their favorite current FIU player.

Iff you're so inclined, shoot me an e-mail at dneal@MiamiHerald.com or contact me via Twitter (@DavidJNeal) so we can arrange an in-person meeting at which I can take a head shot of you.

In answer to Chia's question in the last Comments section...

Word on the street is this is an Invitation Only thing. I'll post video of it here if anybody shoots it and posts it elsewhere or offers it up.

August 10, 2014

Can Miller Pay The Bills With The Bills?

Buffalo announced cornerback Sam Miller signed with the team as an undrafted rookie. The Bills cut another undrafted free agent cornerback, Michael Carter out of Minnesota and Pompano Beach Ely High.

Miller got a look in Buffalo's rookie camp on a tryout basis. He's listed as fifth on the depth chart at left cornerback. Miller's got a shot at making the Bills via special teams. A little bit of defense, a lot of special teams plays and Miller might make the 53 or the practice squad.

IN ANSWER TO A QUESTION IN THE COMMENTS...

The Herald preseason section hopefully will have the same amount of FIU coverage as the last few years. 

FIU's Reason to Watch Browns-Lions

While the rest of the country zeroed in on a Browns-Lions preseason game to watch how Johnny Manziel would translate "Johnny Football" to the NFL, I tuned in to check out former FIU defensive tackle Greg Hickman in his preseason debut for Detroit.

(By the way, how strong is just the idea of "Johnny Football in The NFL" that people cared about watching a Browns-Lions preseason game?) 

As it turned out, the bulk of Manziel's playing time came in the second half and coincided with the bulk of Hickman's time. Detroit rotated Hickman with a few other defensive tackles throughout the second half.

Officially, Hickman had one tackle, a solo, and a quarterback hurry. The tackle was on a 2-yard off tackle run to the right by Terrance West. Hickman worked through and chased down West from behind as the running back got clogged in the hole. Hickman somehow didn't get credit for later dismissing Keavon Milton and stuffing running back Dion Lewis for a loss of 2. 

Hickman had two plays, a Manziel 16-yard scramble and a Lewis 12-yard run, when Cleveland got a big gain through where Hickman had been. The scramble came after a stunt all the way around the right tackle took Hickman out of the contain position you'd want a defensive tackle in against a mobile quarterback like Manziel. If that stunt wasn't an improvisation, but ordered in the defensive call, somebody in the polo shirts gets a demerit. Bad concept. On the Lewis run, Hickman zipped up inside at the snap, leaving a gap that perhaps a linebacker should've filled.

Overall, Hickman helped himself by doing his job. But that low on the roster, you need to make a jump out play or two to keep The Turk from your door.

 

August 09, 2014

Faciane Friday, Hickman tonight

Friday night's Minnesota preseason opener against Oakland continued former FIU defensive tackle Isame Faciane's attempt to make the Vikings as an undrafted rookie. A plus for him is that the Vikes plan to rotate defensive linemen, Seattle style, so they'll need several. The minus is obvious -- when you enter the first preseason game with 8:46 remaining, there's no few in the queue ahead of you.

In two Oakland possessions, Faciane blocked a pass, drew a holding penalty and generally showed good hustle in getting around the ball when the play went away from him. It does look like he needs to work on his conditioning as he seemed to lose his top two gears near the end.

On the block, the 6-5 Faciane got a little penetraion on the pass rush against Raiders guard Emmett Cleary, then did what d-linemen are supposed to do once progress is stopped: get your hands up. 

Later, on a third down, he drew a holding penalty on Cleary, No. 62, for which officials indicted left tackle Erle Ladson, No. 68. In the official game book, Cleary benefits from mistaken identity begat by scrunched up jerseys. Video, as Floyd Gondoli told Jack Horner, tells the truth. Ladson took care of his assignment with minimal contact, a classic legal punch-thrust. Meanwhile, Faciane powered inside Cleary, who held on for quarterback Matt McGloin's life. The pulled jersey was obvious to all as Faciane spun away from Cleary. Flag.

I noticed two other plays that might work in Faciane's favor. He plugged the hole and took on the fullback block in the backfield, mucking up what turned into a 2-yard loss on a left side run. On a third and 10, Faciane bull rushed center Jerrod Shaw to Wisconsin and planted Shaw like a time capsule. Problem was, they wound up well past McGloin. Either Faciane forgot to grab McGloin as he rumbled past with Shaw, couldn't get his hands free or was getting his momentum subtly used against him by Shaw.

Tonight, defensive tackle Greg Hickman tries to make his way up the Detroit depth chart in a preseason game against Cleveland.

 

August 08, 2014

On The Radio, On Wins, On Tymell

After two years being broadcast via Internet over smartphones, FIU football rejoins almost everybody else in FBS with an over-the-air radio deal for this season with 1210AM ESPNDeportes Miami, the station and school announced today.

In addition to the game broadcast, there will be the usual pre and post-game analysis. Expect Pete Pelegrin to remain as play-by-play guy. Here's hoping Pelegrin gets color help, especially on the road. Filling the air for a three or four-hour college football game solo is like blowing up a giant balloon without a helium tank.

OK, it's a Spanish language station (yes, the game broadcasts will be in English, for you smart alecky gringos), but it's still a sports station. Better that than the last station that carried FIU, which sold the slot before FIU games to some show discussing law and lawyers. I wish that had been in Spanish. It would've sounded more exciting. I don't have the instinctive hatred of lawyers some do -- I'm married to a fantastic, Harvard-trained corporate lawyer -- but you could've put a microphone in a Port-O-Let and gotten something that fired you up for a football game more than that.

 

Followers of this blog know I love to watch the setting and movement of odds, spreads and over/unders. No line's up yet on the Aug. 30 season opener vs. Bethune-Cookman. But I've searched up some win over/unders.

Covers.com has FIU's win over/under at two. Sportbet.com goes 2.5 wins. Chris Andrews of Againstthenumber.com gives FIU one of the lowest power ratings in the country, but still the most improved team in the country and a sleeper that's a good bet. He puts their win over/under at 5.5.

For what it's worth, I've done my game-by-game for The Herald's football preview section. It comes out 3-9, but not the three that everyone anticipates. 

MEN'S BASKETBALL

Tymell Murphy, FIU's best player over the last two seasons, will get a shot in the NBA Developmental League this year. Good for him. Where Murphy plays is to be determined. 

 

 

 

August 06, 2014

Ocean Bank Field at FIU Stadium or The Money Pit at The Cage

The headline works best if you say it in the voice William Conrad used for narrating Rocky & Bullwinkle episodes.

Anyway, told ya so -- for the next three years, it'll be Ocean Bank Field at FIU Stadium, the athletic department announced today.

 

I don't know yet how much money Ocean Bank will pump into FIU, but expect it to be generous -- there's enormous cross-pollination between the bank and the school.

What happened to Alfonso Field, named after David Alfonso, who ponied up money to the FIU Foundation in 2011 for five years of Alfonso Field? He hasn't returned our calls. But here's a truism -- money-starved schools don't tend to end five-year deals with major donors after three years unless the money flow gets constipation. And that might have nothing to do with the school.

The next athletic department structure to get a revenue-bringing name will be Formerly Sunblazer Arena or What Once Was U.S. Century Bank Arena.

A Few Training Camp Pizza Rolls; Men's Futbol Predix

Football practice is still closed to the media. Though I can't give you the full meal served of past years because I wasn't there, here's a few pizza roll appetizers of info I heard about from today at La Cage...

Sophomore middle linebacker Treyvon Williams took first team snaps late in practice. Also, junior cornerback Jeremiah McKinnon took snaps at first team corner in a defense against a three-wide set. McKinnon's switched from No. 31 to No. 7, the number of NFL-bound FIU defensive backs Anthony Gaitor and Johnathan Cyprien. Sophomore De'Shawn Hazziez, a walk-on last year who played in 11 games, might be moving up the depth chart also.

On offense, quarterback EJ Hilliard continued with the first team. Joining Hilliard on some of the snaps were speedy redshirt junior running back Shane Coleman and freshman wide receiver Dennis Turner, probably the best big play guy in the 2014 recruiting class. What was it I wrote in the training camp preview about looking for explosiveness? 

MEN'S SOCCER

The preseason Conference USA coaches poll puts FIU at No. 7 in the nine-team league and New Mexico as the overwhelming favorite (seven of nine first place votes). Senior forward Quentin Albrecht, Second Team All-C-USA last season, was voted to the preseason all-conference team.