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11 posts from April 2007

April 29, 2007

Welcome to the NFL

Ab_2 Rav_2 Cw_2 Vike Congratulations, to the first-ever two NFL Draft picks from FIU: Antwan Barnes and Chandler Williams.

Antwan joins one of the best NFL defenses with the Baltimore Ravens. Could you imagine being an NFL quarterback and having to stare down El Monstruo, along with Terrell Suggs, Trevor Pryce and Ray Lewis on Sunday afternoons?

GPP spoke with AB on Sunday afternoon. He was having a big problem in Aventura Mall. AB couldn't seem to find a store that sold a Ravens cap. GPP suggested Lids at Dolphin Mall.

AB did say former FIU and current Ravens running backs coach Tony Nathan encouraged him to stay positive him earlier Sunday morning, even though he had yet to be drafted.

"Being the first FIU player drafted feels real good," Barnes said. "This will give FIU players something to look up to. Something to dream about."

AB said he leaves Thursday for Baltimore to take a physical and starts Ravens rookie camp on Friday. When AB got drafted he was hanging out with Alex Bostic and he got phone calls from Keyonvis Bouie, a text from Nick Turnbull and a call from former coach Don Strock.

Mark your calendars: The Ravens play here against the Dolphins on Dec. 16.

As for Chandler. His family was having a draft party, but by the seventh round the family stopped watching the draft, but CW still kept his eye on it. The Denver Broncos called to offer CW a free agent contract at the beginning of the 7th round, but CW told them to wait and see if he got drafted.

The Vikings picked CW, but he didn't tell anyone at his party. He tried to play a practical joke on his family.

CW was going to tell his family that he had to settle for a free agent contract, but he didn't count on the NFL Network.  As he was going to play the joke on his family, the NFL Network showed CW's picture on the screen with a Vikings logo and CW's secret was ruined.

Like AB, CW leaves on Thursday, but for Minneapolis for a physical.

"FIU is on the map," said Williams, about him and AB getting drafted. "They got to put FIU on Madden's video game now."

CW also got a call from former FIU teammates and Strock as well. CW said Chris Smith signed a free agent contract with the Philadelphia Eagles after the draft. Making it now 4 FIU players in the NFL, counting Nick with the Bears....Not too shabby for a 5-year-old program.

Cs Eag Now to get to some of the comments on the previous blog: "2007 FIU NFL Draft Prospects and kibbles-n-bits"...First of all, GPP welcomes former FIU offensive lineman Ronny Silva to the blog. Ronny, nice post on your former teammates. The Golden Panthers O-line missed you last year. Hope the leg is better.

As for MIA/NY Josh's comment about Antwan training at um....Josh, I know you're a diehard um fan and you help us out in the cleanup spot in Sunday morning softball, so it pains me to suggest this to you....What if for some wacky reason you saw um players coming over to FIU to workout once the new football stadium and football complex is done. FIU is playing its home games in the Orange Bowl this season, but wouldn't it be AlaAlanis_2nis Morissette "Ironic" if um had to come play their home games at the new FIU Stadium when the OB is eventually demolished?

Still want you batting fourth Josh, we lost 11-6 today.               


April 26, 2007

2007 FIU NFL Draft prospects and kibbles-n-bits

Barnesaction  Just one day before the 2007 NFL Draft gets under way and FIU is likely to have its first NFL draft pick taken in "El Monstruo" Antwan Barnes.  Sfrank

So to honor the occasion, the GPP found some free time to offer its services to NFL general managers leaguewide as to where 7 FIU seniors could fit in.

As for the rest of the NFL Draft analysis, GPP will leave it to our three guest analysts (I'll explain later why these 3 are here). Now on to the draft-eligible Golden Panthers.

Barnes, who could go as high as the second round, would make a perfect fit with the Dallas Cowboys. There the speedy, powerful Monstruo could play opposite former Troy standout DeMarcus Ware, who had 11.5 sacks last year. Another good fit for AB would be with the Colts, who already have sack machines Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis on the defensive line. Indy could use a speed rushing LB after losing Cato June.

Chandler Williams can easily replace Wes Welker on the Dolphins. Right now, the Miami receiving corps is nothing that makes defensive backs have sleepless nights. So why not CW? And as you saw against USF and numerous other times, the man can return kicks -- Welker's specialty. Plus, CW already reminded a Dolphins scout during his workout at the Davie training complex that they have an extra pick because of the Olindo Mare trade.

You know who needs a good middle linebacker? The San Diego Chargers. Hmm, I think FIU had a pretty good one the last couple of years in 2-time Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year -- Keyonvis Bouie. In San Diego, Bouie could play the middle with Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips already manning the outsides. Shaun/Shawne combined for 28.5 sacks last year.

The 49ers signed a top cornerback in Nate Clements from Buffalo, but they still lack a worthy safety and their special teams need help. Alex Bostic did both well towards the end of last year when he was needed to fill in at safety. Plus, he had NFL scouts talking after his FIU Pro Day workout as a defensive back and Bostic has always been one of the better players on FIU's special teams.

Arizona is not known for its Bar-BQ, but Sam Smith wouldn't mind going to run pass patterns there with receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Smith, who has developed his own secret recipe for Bar-BQ sauce which may be on store shelves in the future, just may be an improvement at tight end since the Cards have not had a good TE since never.

Josh Padrick didn't have his best season last year, but a lot had to do with some factors surrounding him. He was an All-SBC passer two years ago and would be well served in a West Coast offense where they can take advantage of his athleticism and accuracy. Chuckie hasn't had a quarterback since winning the Super Bowl with Brad Johnson in 2002. A trip up I-75 to the Bucs might work.

Chris Smith was having a solid senior season before the dance with um. Anyhow, Smith began to evolve at safety when he paired up with Nick Turnbull a few years ago and took the next step last season. Pair him up with Turnbull again on the Bears. Outside of Mike Brown, Chi-town's secondary is nothing special.

You guys got better teams fits for these Golden Panthers? Send them in !! Maybe an NFL GM will read them.

As for our 3 NFL Draft guest analysts: you have Amber (left, below), a former Texas linebacker whose NFL career was derailed, because of an affinity for Milk Bones.

Gals_4 Our next analyst, Sam (right of Amber), was an All-American receiver at Cal before her NFL dreams were cut short due to obsessive chasing of a softball. And finally our last draft analyst, Naya (picture, right), a sleek running back from Georgia, had her NFLNaya_6 hopes penalized, because of excessive chewing.

The GPP invited these 3 to talk about the rest of the NFL Draft, because they probably know as much as any Tom, Dick or Harry that's been on every draft show (yes, you ESPN), magazine or website. They certainly know more than me.

The NFL Draft gets overanalyzed more and more every year and the truth is none of those guys know what's going to happen Saturday. Just look at the surprises every year in the draft (see: Zach Thomas, Tom Brady, Marques Colston). Unless, your job title is General Manager or Head Coach of an NFL team, you know as much about how the draft is going to shake out as these three pooches.

As for the all excess coverage, I'm watching Family Guy. Familyguy_2

April 24, 2007

The Marios

You've heard of the Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and Tonys. Well to wrap up spring football, Golden Panthers Prowl presents The Marios.  Mariobro_2

The Marios is not your typical awards show, as the categories below point out. Here at GPP we strive to point out the best of 2007 FIU spring football with these recognitions.

(Disclaimer here: The Marios do not include opinions expressed by FIU's head football coach and all results are tabulated by the accounting firm of: Soley, Maya, Opinion and Dats-it).

Each Marios winner will receive a 1-foot high statue (picture, right) depicting an Italian plumber, because the new era of Golden Panthers football has shown that no player is afraid to get their hands dirty to help the team win.Cinc

Before we get to our first category, let's introduce our awards presenter: Cindy Crawford, who filmed her only movie: 1995's Fair Game, right here in Miami. While filming FG, we hear she became a Golden Panthers fan.    

Now to the awards....

The first Mario is for Best Individual Representation of FIU's moniker "Sleeping Giant" ...and the Mario goes to: Tight end Moses Hinton. Moses showed this spring the form he had his freshman year. Hinton has the speed to beat defenders downfield and needs 3 or 4 guys to bring him down as the 2005 win over Middle Tennessee showed. Hinton missed most of last year with a foot injury, thus making him a "sleeping giant" this season.

Best Spring Performance by a Player who should have been used more last season...and the Mario goes to: Running back John Ellis. Used primarily as a blocking back last season, Ellis showed what he can do when he gets the ball this spring. Two Ellis plays stood out this spring. In the first scrimmage, he appeared to be tackled for a loss in the backfield, but he broke three tackles to gain 9 yards and a first down while having his helmet pop off. The other play was a 73-yard screen catch and run to the 2-yard line.

Best initial imitation of Keyonvis Bouie...and the Mario goes to: Linebacker Scott Bryant. Although this was against his own offense, Bryant -- like Bouie -- had a knack for finding the ball this spring. Along with recording a couple of sacks, Bryant also had some stops in the backfield.

Best Use of Mario Cristobal's pet phrase "Spring ball is like Monster.com - go out and get yourself a job"...and the Mario goes to: Quarterback Wayne Younger. No, Younger did not win the starting quarterback job, that's still to be settled in August. But Younger did show tremendous improvement over last season where he was relegated to playing receiver on the scout team.

Best coaching drills not seen the last five years at FIU...and the Mario goes to: It's a tie. Offensive coordinator James Coley and Special teams coach Apollo Wright. During individual drills, Coley had Younger and the other quarterbacks throw the football using only their throwing hand to grip the ball. The result was improved accuracy and touch. During special teams drills, Wright had Lionell Singleton and other kick returners catch punts with orange cones under their armpits to help catch the football better.

Best imitation of a wallet...and the Mario goes to: Another tie. Defensive linemen Jonas Murrell and Jonathan Betancourt. Both d-linemen were in the quarterback's pocket for most of the spring. Each player registered multiple sacks during scrimmages.

Best Pipes...and the Mario goes to: Defensive coordinator Phil Galiano. The new D-coordinator's energy and game-calling had the FIU defense looking as strong as last season's unit despite missing the Killer B's. And when good plays were made or bad plays were made, Galiano -- who will never have a job as a librarian -- made sure to let the players know.

Best Reason to actually watch Channel 7...and the Mario goes to: Mario Cristobal. Before we only had a glimpse of the energy and motivational speeches on the football field, but one look inside the Golden Panthers locker room as MC let the Ch. 7 cameras in on for their Sunday night sports show and you saw that the 2007 Golden Panthers will not lack discipline, energy or be underprepared this season.

Best Interpretation of T.D.A.O.S by a reader of GPP...and the Mario goes to: FIU Fanatic. Since we rarely receive real names at GPP, here's what FIU Fanatic's comment posted in the previous blog said: "I think the theme in this particular blog is not necessarily in terms of pure football (where I agree with your post), but the surrounding aspects of the team..of the program. "

Best Spring Phrase...and the Mario goes to: "Those days are over,son!".....or did that go without saying.

Before we wrap up the 1st annual Marios, I'd be remissed if I did not correct a statement I wrote earlier this spring in an article in the Miami Herald. For the record, former FIU defensive back Kevin Timothee IS THE FIRST GOLDEN PANTHER to reach the NFL. Timothee, who will graduate in May from FIU reached the NFL in 2005 with the Tennessee Titans and later the New York Giants.

Also, glad to hear that the GPP has been printed by some and posted around the FIU campus on bulletin boards. Neat to hear there is interest.

Now for Ms. Crawford, I'd like to thank you for checking in on the 1st annual Marios and we'll catch up with you in the next blog.

April 22, 2007

"Those days are over, son!" -- The Sequel

Sequels are usually bad: just think Caddyshack 2, Speed: Cruise Control and anything with Steven Seagal.

But the sequel to "Those days are over, son!" got rave reviews on Friday night.

Spring football is over and what a way for it to end at Friday night's Blue/Gold Game.

If I was stranded on a deserted island for X number of years like Tom Hanks in "Castaway" and someone had dropped me at FIU Stadium on Friday night, I could have sworn I was in a "real" college football town. It reminded me a little of the environment when I was in Maryland last season covering the Golden Panthers game against the Terrapins.                             Th_2

At this moment, all of FIU should raise their right hands and place them over their left shoulders and pat themselves on the back, because the university, the athletic department and the football team put on one heck of a show on Friday night.

Maybe now, some who were confused by TDAOS can understand the point of the post "Those days are over, son!". If any of you folks missed it, you can scroll down and look for the blog featuring Einstein and Homer Simpson.

Anyways, we'll get to the football team's scrimmage performance in the next blog, but here let's digest what went on Friday night outside of the 100 yards of Astroplay surface.

Pork_4   For starters, there was an actual tailgate party. In previous seasons, there were a few gatherings of tailgating before regular season games, but nothing like you fans did on Friday night. My compliments to the chefs of the roast pork. I'm not a big pork fan, but those sandwiches were pretty good. Those were the type of sandwiches that could find their way onto the "Subrageous" menu across from FIU -- which may be the best sub shop in Miami.

As for the attendance, some players said after the game that they were worried they'd be playing in front of the usual get-togethers that have comprised the attendance at home games the last few years. More than 2,400 fans showed up -- for a 5-year-old program's spring game. More than 2,400 fans.....When the 2006 FIU season officially went in the tank after the Rocky 7 auditions against um at the OB, there were NOT 2,400 fans in attendance at the last 3 home games. (Has Sly gotten to Rocky 7, yet? I lost count after Clubber Lang) Rocky

Then you add to Friday evening, the sale of retro FIU athletic uniforms and gear, which went rather well I'm told and that's a good start to the pre-game festivities. Not to mention all the giveaways that were provided.

And from the many e-mails you folks have sent, everyone got a kick out of the new head coach's impassioned halftime speech. The same energy has been on display in every practice this spring. If for some reason, Cuban coffee ever becomes extinct, for some people their lives may come to a halt, but I think Mario will be just fine.

On Oct. 10, 2006, the eyes of the "Sleeping Giant" were opened when FIU hired PG as AD. On Dec. 20, 2006, the Sleeping Giant stretched and stood up when MC came on board as head coach. Now Apr. 20, 2007, the Sleeping Giant took a first step when it showed what it's capable of when things are done right.   

Giant_3  And remember TDAOS is not going to guarantee a win at Penn State on Sept. 1, but since Oct. 10, FIU has drawn one step closer.

April 18, 2007

My 2 cents on Spring ball

2_cen The first spring football season under the new coaching staff wraps up with Friday night's Blue/Gold Game at 7 p.m. at FIU Stadium. And to get you ready for Friday's game this would be a good time to throw in my two cents on what I've seen so far.

The first thing you're going to notice when you look at the 2007 Golden Panthers on Friday night is the new energy this team has discovered. This team did not practice the last four weeks like an 0-12 squad. Granted, they haven't played anybody, but there's just a different feel to the FIU football atmosphere.

A reader in the last blog wrote: "We have kids coaching kids over in southwest miami people, let's not lose our perspective here."

The thinking here is...he or she may have misunderstood the perspective of TDAOS. It's not that FIU will play in Arizona next January for a national title, but rather that there is finally some energy and discipline present that this team sorely needed last year. Players will be held accountable with MC and his staff and a fresh approach, especially on offense will definitely help this team.

As for the reader, who hopes this enthusiasm extends to the baseball program. . .I don't have a Spidey sense, (I'm partial to Batman...the Begins franchise), but I have a strong feeling the baseball program will catch the enthusiasm. Bbrd_3

Anyways, back to the spring thing:

Since defense is the holdover strength of this team, let's start out by mentioning the defensive line which had their way with the o-line early this spring. Jonathan Betancourt, Jonas Murrell were among the standouts. Reggie Jones and Roland Clarke did some nice work too.

The linebackers, which FIU lost three of their best in the Killer B's, seem to have some talent left over. Scott Bryant, Matt Garris and Michael Dominguez made some plays.

The secondary could be the strength of the team with Lionell Singleton, Robert Mitchell, Jeremiah Weatherspoon and the return of Kent Henderson, who when last on the field deflected a Hail Mary pass by Middle Tennessee to seal FIU's win in the 2005 season finale.

One thing that will definitely have you folks rising for a standing ovation is a creative, attacking, shotgun, spread offense. Although, you may have to wait until fall to see it all. So_2

Quarterback Paul McCall -- who finally gets a chance to do something besides handoff late in the fourth quarter of blowout games -- showed this spring he has some promise.

Running back Julian Reams has broken some nice runs and fullback John Ellis may have had one of the best springs of any player, especially catching the football.

The receivers have had their moments. Tight end Moses Hinton still needs 3 or 4 guys to tackle him and some of the young receivers like Torrelt Solomon and Sanchez Anderson have had flashes this spring.

The O-line is a work in progress, but hey, after one year together for these guys they can only get better, right.

As for kicking, Dustin Rivest has put in some extra work and the results have shown (6 of 8 in FG in first scrimmage). Plus, there will be competition coming this summer to find the best kicker. Sort of like FIU Kicker Idol....and that's the last time you will hear an American Idol reference in this blog.

Check out the game Friday night. I'll spot you a penny and you write me your 3 cents on the 2007 Golden Panthers.

April 16, 2007

"Those days are over, son!"

I didn't know there were so many Catherine Zeta-Jones fans out there in FIU land.Ae_2

OK, no need to be an Einstein-posterior here.   

The last blog entry "The Beauty of Baseball" received the most comments of any entry in the short time Golden Panthers Prowl has been up and running. And some passionate comments they were.

Yes, I know there is huge dissatisfaction (that's an understatement) with the Golden Panthers baseball program and change is probably coming, but let's see if we can get a positive blog going here as we switch over to football and the upcoming Blue/Gold Spring Game on Friday night (7 p.m./Tailgating 5 p.m.) at FIU Stadium. The game will be the last event at FIU Stadium before construction begins on the new football stadium.

One of the phrases that has stood out in my mind as I've watched the FIU football team practice this spring, I heard on the very first day of spring practice. And I think the phrase is what the new FIU football program and eventually all FIU athletic programs will be about (and yes, that includes baseball for those of you scoring at home).

In the very first practice under MC and the new football coaching staff, there was one player lazily walking to a drill. One of the coaches saw the slacking off and instructed the player that you jog to and from drills. The coach finished by yelling: "Those days are over, son!" (T.D.A.O.S.)

I think that could be the motto of the new FIU athletic department (TDAOS). FIU sports for a while now have been mired in mediocrity (when I covered the FIU baseball game at um two weeks ago, 2 guys wearing um shirts in the press box commented that's "FIU-ish" when talking about something that wasn't being done the right way). Well, news flash for Homer and Barney over there at um: The um has done some "um-ish" stuff as well.    Homer_2

Anyways, the impression I have gotten from the new FIU athletic administration is that those times are going to change or in blog-speak: TDAOS.

You don't have to look any further than the marketing blitz for this Friday's spring football game, which includes unveiling the designs of the new stadium, music, food, prizes and a garage sale of retro FIU athletic uniforms and gear.

Bg_2Never in the previous five spring games has there been the type of fanfare that this spring game is getting and judging by your e-mails and responses to the Golden Panthers Prowl there seems to be plenty of interest. Heck, even the Spanish sports talk show "Descarga Deportiva" on 1550 AM is getting calls about the spring game and interest in FIU football.

There won't be 47,000 at FIU Stadium on Friday, like the NC Gators got for their game, but I would wager jogging from assignment to assignment and NOT walking, if this spring game does not have the highest attendance of any previous spring game.

That's a good start for TDAOS.

April 12, 2007

The Beauty of Baseball

Zeta The beauty of baseball is that second-guessing is part of the game. And there was plenty of second-guessing at University Park Stadium on Wednesday night when FIU took on um.

I have to get in a Catherine Zeta-Jones photo here, because what follows is some ugly baseball.

Wednesday night, the Golden Panthers bullpen had pitched a marvelous game heading into the ninth inning. After a shaky third inning, Brian Santana, Evan Ellison and Walker Whitley were flawless allowing zero runs in seven of the eight innings the trio pitched. They struck out 11 um batters.

Then came the self-inflicted wound that became the ninth inning. Ahead, 7-6, coach Danny Price brings in Jorge Ramos, who had NOT pitched since March 16 because of elbow tendonitis. I'm no math whiz but by my count that's 26 days since the freshman had thrown a baseball that counted.

On top of that, Ramos had to get out the top of the um order which was pulverizing the baseball Wednesday. 3 of the first 4 hitters in the um lineup combined to go 7 for 14 Wednesday.

Just to remind, Ramos had not pitched in 26 days so you CANNOT pin the ninth inning on the kid.

Anyways, leadoff hitter Blake Tekotte doubles and gets moved to third base on a ground out. Now comes, arguably the best hitter in college baseball this season -- Yonder Alonso, a left-handed hitter going against the right-hander Ramos.

The move everyone in University Park and those listening on the radio would have made was to walk Alonso and set up a double play. Nope, on the first pitch Alonso rips a single to right...tie game. Then comes clean-up hitter Mark Sobolewski who smacks a double to right and then the FIU wheels came off with an error and a um two-run double. Five runs later the Golden Panthers suffer another defeat.

Mack Now, I'm no Connie Mack (winningest major league manager: 3,731 wins), but I have to wonder: bringing in a pitcher, who is coming off an injury into the 9th inning of a one-run lead against the top of the batting order?

''He's bigger than me and he wanted the ball,'' Price said. "That's the truth he really wanted the baseball and I wanted somebody who really wanted the ball to be out there. . . . and if I had to do it again, I'd do it again.''

Ok, then. Good luck to the Golden Panthers against Sun Belt No. 2 Louisiana-Monroe this weekend.

I know many of you have written in already calling for change to the FIU baseball program. After games, like these, I could see your point. When and what the changes will be are unknown.

But one thing is for certain. FIU AD Pete Garcia won't have to come up with $40,000 like um did when they went looking for a football coach, when the coach they hired was already on campus. Who's running the financial show over there and could they give me $40,000?

Back to the matter at hand.

Pete Garcia will have to make a trip to the Home Depot for some door reinforcements, because baseball coaches from around the nation are going to be beating down his door for the opportunity to coach a Division I college baseball program in talent-rich Miami. Doorsmall

Folks, the FIU baseball program, like many of FIU's sports is "a sleeping giant" and someone needs to give it a wake-up call.

April 09, 2007

...For if they don't get in it's a shame...

Switching gears to FIU baseball now and speaking of gears, if the 2007 Golden Panthers baseball team Base was a car they'd be stuck on the side of the road right now with the up and down season FIU is having.

FIU (17-18, 4-8 in Sun Belt) is currently in 10th place out of 11 teams in the Sun Belt Conference after dropping another Sun Belt series last weekend against Arkansas State. ONLY 8 teams make the conference tournament -- and unless you have a sparkling record like a Louisiana-Lafayette or Louisiana-Monroe -- your team needs to win the Sun Belt tournament to reach the NCAA postseason -- something the Golden Panthers have not seen since 2002.

So much for a sparkling record, the Golden Panthers have enough of a task right now in just trying to reach their conference tournament -- a given in years past.

If Harry Caray were still alive and he was the FIU p.a. announcer, he would have to change a line when he sings "Take me out to the ballgame" from "...for if they don't win it's a shame..." to "...for if FIU doesn't get in it's a shame...".  (Aside: Roman you got to start singing in the bottom of the 7th inning).

Hc    Anyways, back to the point of this post. . .The way the FIU baseball season is shaping up, the Golden Panthers may be playing for their only kind of championship this Wednesday when they take on the Hurricanes at FIU's University Park. Game time is at 7 p.m.

um last Wednesday came back and beat FIU 10-9 in 10 innings at Mark Light Field in Coral Gables. Which by the way, FIU catcher Luis Bautista's titanic two-run home run just landed at Coral Gables City Hall on Sunday, 3 days after he socked the cowhide out of Mr. Spalding.

This Wednesday, FIU has a chance to split the season series when they host um.

I'm told by the FIU athletic department, tickets are still available for Wednesday's home game and can be purchased at 1-866-FIU-GAME (1-866-348-4263).

After Wednesday's game, FIU has 18 Sun Belt games left beginning with a 3-game series against 2nd place Louisiana-Monroe this weekend at FIU. The only breathers -- if we can call them that -- that the Golden Panthers have the rest of the way are a 3-game series at Arkansas-Little Rock (2-9 in Sun Belt), who is the worst team in the conference (Apr. 20) and 2 games at Florida A&M (May 7,8) who FIU destroyed earlier this season.

Can the Golden Panthers still find some consistency and make some noise in the Sun Belt? 

Sure, this is baseball where anything can happen. But the way they've played so far this season, I wouldn't be taking my Herald paycheck to Vegas or for that matter, down the street to the the Miccoussukees or up the Turnpike to the Seminoles.      Veg_3

April 08, 2007

Eh,.....what's up, Doc?....An improving offense

   Since today is a day when rabbits are popular, I thought I'd refer to two American icons to illustrate the transformation FIU's offense has been undergoing so far this spring.

   While it is NOT a finished product yet, because not every facet has been installed and not every player is in camp yet -- 11 freshmen offensive players are headed this way in August -- the FIU offense has been slowly progressing from looking like Elmer Fudd to Bugs Bunny. The Golden Panthers got three carrots in Saturday's scrimmage.

Bugs   At the halfway mark of FIU's spring practices (6 more practices before the spring game on Friday, April 20), there is a noticeable difference in the Golden Panthers offense as Saturday's second spring scrimmage showed.

   Obviously, the Golden Panthers have not played against any other unit except its own defense so far, but you could see definite improvement in the offensive scheme and its execution on Saturday. A lot of it having to do with the offensive line's performance which gave the quarterbacks more time to throw and opened some holes for the running backs.

The offense couldn't find the end zone in the first scrimmage last week, but scored three touchdowns on Saturday. Julian Reams again led the running backs with 48 yards and a touchdown. Reams broke off a nice 21-yard run. Other backs with good runs were James Jones (13 yard-run, 27 total yards) and Devon Freeman, who on his first carry got 10 yards.

Paul McCall didn't disappoint throwing for 112 yards. McCall had a 25-yard completion to John Houston Whiddon at the start and finished with a 31-yard touchdown pass to Moses Hinton.

Tight end Joey Myers (30 yards), receivers Travis Felder (21 yards) and Sanchez Anderson (20 yards) also had big catches. Felder made a nifty catch from Wayne Younger in traffic in the red zone. Fullback John Ellis, who is having a solid spring, gained 15 yards on a short pass.

The FIU defense again had a strong scrimmage. Jonas Murrell racked up another two sacks. As did Kent Henderson, who FIU missed last season in the secondary. Senior defensive lineman Daniel Chacreton also had two sacks. Matt Garris, Robert Mitchell and Scott Bryant all got one sack.

I think now after two weeks under MC and the coaching staff, the players are beginning to adjust to what's expected of them.

With officials calling the scrimmage, the offense and defense combined for one penalty on the day -- can you spell D-I-S-C-I-P-L-I-N-E?

When the defense was trying to make a goal line stand, the players on the sidelines began chanting "Defense!, Defense!" -- looks like a real sense of team unity is taking shape.

And you folks remember those silly penalties FIU would get in a handful of games in the past for having too many men on the field. Since the first practice this spring players GOT the message that they jog on and off the field and NOT walk....well, on Saturday during game-like conditions I didn't see one player walking.

April 06, 2007

El Monstruo brings them out; Thanks, Olindo

Barnesaction_2If Wednesday's workout with the Dolphins is any indication, you could picture Antwan "El Monstruo" Dolpjers Barnes (here taking down K-State running back Parrish Fisher) in aqua and orange. Checking the Dolphins current roster, No. 42 is available.

Seems "El Monstruo" -- which by the way I was told I misspelled in the previous post -- had a heck of a workout with the Fins on Wednesday. Frank_2

EM did the typical linebacker drills, along with Pitt linebacker H.B. Blades (the only 2 linebackers to workout for the Dolphins on Wednesday). Defensive coordinator Dom Capers also wanted to see EM work out of the 3-4 defense.

EM lined up at outside linebacker and was asked to perform drills where he would rush the quarterback -- as we all know EM's specialty.

EM said that Dolphins coach Cam Cameron did not come out for any of the workouts that day until the linebackers began working out.

"They told me they liked what they saw on film and that I looked real good on Wednesday. They said to be ready on draft day, but they couldn't tell me anything more because everything is a secret this time of year," Barnes said. Cwpunt

As for receiver Chandler Williams, he too had a solid day at Dolphin camp. Dolphins

GM Randy Mueller was talking to CW while he was about to catch punts, but CW didn't know he was talking to the Dolphins GM.

"I'm in the line getting ready to catch punts and this guy keeps asking me questions if I was ever a punt returner in college. Afterwards, one of the other receivers there asked me if I knew I was talking to the GM. I said 'I didn't even know who the Dolphins GM is".

All CW had to tell Mueller was check out my punt return for a touchdown (picture, above right) against USF last season.

CW also said of the 6 WRs to work out, he was the only one that was asked to go inside and watch film with WR coach Terry Robiskie.

While he was having lunch there, CW said the Fins scouting coordinator came over and told CW that if he doesn't get drafted that he may get brought in as a free agent. But CW had a better suggestion for the scouting coordinator.

"I told him you know that 6th round pick you guys got for Olindo Mare from the New Orleans Saints. You guys can use that pick on me."Om

The scouting coordinator could only smile.

Jersey No. 1 on the Dolphins is also available as a check of the current roster shows.                        

Alex Bostic did not workout, but says he should have a workout soon.

April 04, 2007

Swimming with the Dolphins?

Miadolphs   Barn 

There will be some Golden Panthers swimming with Dolphins on Wednesday as

Antwan Barnes, Chandler Williams and Alexander Bostic workout for the Miami Dolphins at the Fins training facility in Davie.

As far all the draft experts go, and I'm sure you all have read the predictions and yada, yada, yada from the Mel Kipers of the world.....Antwan is expected to be drafted anywhere from the second round to the fifth. According to the "experts" all other FIU players are either late round picks or free agent signees.

But let's digress for a moment and think of the needs of our hometown professional football team. As far as linebackers go the Fins are loaded with Zach, free agent signee Joey Porter and Channing Crowder, but a young Antwan would sport the aqua and orange pretty nicely and be a pass rushing force, especially with Zach getting long in the tooth. Antwan -- also known as "El Monstro" as nicknamed by FIU spanish radio broadcasters Jerry Del Castillo and Pepe Campos, for his ability to terrorize opposing quarterbacks -- would likely do the same on Sundays this year. I think the NFL took notice after his monster NFL Combine in Indianapolis in February. By the way, El Monstro is Spanish for The Monster.

Frank                                                                                                             Bos                    Cw_3

With Chandler the Dolphins would be getting a taller and faster Wes Welker, who by the way now has his "caar, paark by the Haarvaard yaard in Boston" with the Pats. Current Miami backup receivers Derek Hagan, Az Hakim and Marcus Vick are not exactly making reservations for Honolulu and the Pro Bowl.

In Bostic, the Fins could get a guy who can play both linebacker and safety. At FIU's NFL Day last month, NFL scouts were talking about Bostic as a safety -- a position he played out of necessity at the end of last season after the suspensions were handed out for the dirty dancing with um. Bostic showed some skills playing safety, especially against Alabama last season.  The Dolphins current defensive backfield -- outside of Yeremiah Bell and when he's healthy Travis Daniels -- does not really make Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and co. shudder.

Now I'm not saying these Golden Panthers are ready to start in the NFL, but all 3 and even more like Keyonvis Bouie should all get a look in an NFL training camp come July. It would be a nice story if that training camp was in Davie.                                                                                                      


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