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Defense does not rest; Offense wakes up

The youth fair is going on less than half a mile from FIU Stadium, but the team's first spring scrimmage Saturday morning provided its share of entertainment. More on that in a bit, but first.....

Fiu        There certainly was no cotton candy in the first scrimmage under MC.

The FIU defense was very physical and showed the Golden Panthers still have some playmakers even after the departure of the 3 studs (Barnes, Bostic and Bouie).                                                                             

                          Like lastFair year, the defense was again spending the day in the offensive backfield. They got 16 sacks and a handful of tackles for loss. Jonas Murrell and Jonathan Betancourt each had 3 sacks. The secondary was strong, except when tight end Moses Hinton dragged tacklers about 6 yards each time on 2 of his 3 catches. Moses is healthy again and should have a good year in the new offense.

Speaking of which, the new offense was unveiled and although they couldn't score a touchdown (No, this is not 2006 all over again, trust me on this) there was some creativity to the play calling (A'mod Ned executed a nifty halfback pass for 20 yards to Elliott Dix) and the passing game looked pretty good for the first scrimmage. McCall and Fraites combined to go 17 of 24.

Oh, and there was this strange sighting -- maybe you guys can help me understand this -- FIU quarterbacks actually lined up about 5 yards behind the center to take a snap......I think I've seen a lot of teams work out of this formation.....I think it's called something like "rifle, or maching gun....maybe SHOTGUN". Yes folks, there will be a shotgun in the offense this year and not just during the 2 minute drill.

New offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach James Coley is a sharp guy with a diverse offensive background. His play calling showed that.Sh_2

  The offensive line is still a work in progress, but it can only get better. Julian Reams had a nice 22-yard run, but other than that the running game was stuck in neutral.

Once again, discipline was stressed.

Fullback John Ellis got a first down on his own after what looked like a busted screen pass. After gaining nine yards basically by himself, MC instructed the offensive line to give Ellis a pat on the back. MC said to the o-line "Get over there and congratulate him, he made you guys look good".

An offensive lineman and a defensive lineman had a little tussle after a play. MC got the two players together to shake hands and then had them take a lap around the field while holding hands.

Players were running in and out of the huddles to the sidelines and special teams were practiced on 4 -- that's right 4 -- different times on Saturday.

Kicker Dustin Rivest had a big day converting 6 of 8 field goals, two from 42 yards out.

After one week of practice under MC and his coaching staff, I have to say this is a completely different program.

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Great update Pete, thanks! I'm glad to see Mario giving so much initial emphasis on what were our two overwhelming casualties last year: offensive line and special teams.

ROAR BABY!!!!

Thanks for your blog and the extended coverage. Your mention of the departed studs, 3-B's, brings to point of how is the young linebacker core coming along. My son is part of that group and is quickly learning the new schemes and adjusting to being back at LB after spending his Freshman season at DE.I try to get updates but he is a poor reporter and tends to generalize on his own performance. He did mention he thought Scottie Bryant probably had the best day Sat. among the LB's. Any comments ?

Thank you Pete for that detailed report of how practice is going on. I love that there will a handful of new options being used on the offensive side. We love reading your blogs on
http://www.fiugoldenpanthers.com/ and look forward to reading them daily.

Shotgun, finally!! Nice update Pete. Can't wait til the new recruits get in the mix...I can already smell the burgers cooking on the grill! Burn baby burn! Roar!!

Thanks for the info Pete, it's great hearing that the offense is looking better. If our offense wasn't so abysmal last season it would have been a completely different season.

I can't wait to see the new offense and the improved defense in the first game against Penn State, Our past offense was so boring and predictable. I hope this year there is more commitment to winning, rather than just playing for the money the program got paid to play better teams.

Pete,

Good report. Please keep the info coming.

The discipline you describe from MC's new FIU program is a far cry from the Stroker Days, with our due respect to the founding father.

I just hope the programs progress is negated by their tough schedule. It's brutal.

gpantera

pete love teh blog and ya gotta keep it up ... dont slack like manny does on UM. on the post its great to see that christobal, (a columbus grad :-D ) has got these boys goin in the right direction. love the part about holding hands... that was awesome! we know that FIU players will be ready now we gotta start getting the fans at fiu to be ready. i know i will. i think i gotta go to fiu's website and pre-buy tickets for the next 2 season ! im so ready for it !

Shotgun!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes the new era has begun.

Pete,
Doing a great job with all your insider FIU stuff. I bet all your fellow Golden Panther football fans really appreciate it. Are you related to the coach? You guys look so much alike, I have a feeling you guys could be kin. No wonder you only have good things to say about this Cristobal guy, he is either your older half-brother from another father or a young uncle. Keep up the hard work and good to see your entire family is so successful.

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