Plenty of questions abound on both sides of the ball as fall practice nears for the 2007 season. A number of key players on both offense and defense were lost to graduation and the NFL, so let's see what we can make of the 2007 Golden Panthers before Camp Cristobal opens next Monday night.
Since fall usually signifies the start of the new television season, let's see if we can tie each of the position groups to a classic TV show here. First, the offense. . .
Better make that four adding Cindy or Terri. With 4 QBs to choose from, offensive coordinator James Coley is sure to be keeping long hours watching each practice film and carefully studying each quarterback in practice to see who will be under center against Penn State on Sept. 1. It's a new offense: spread and after spring practice many on this blog think Wayne Younger is the guy. Yes, Younger had a great spring and Coley helped him with his throwing mechanics which were a little off last season. But don't discount Paul McCall. Although he did not stand out as much as Younger in spring, when he has to run McCall has shown the ability to move. Freshmen Colt Anderson and Darold Hughes look great on film, but they weren't playing Penn State or Arkansas in those games. Let's see how the rookies do in the next 4 weeks.
Never was a big fan of this show, more a Star Wars fan. Anyhow, since Rashod Smith graduated FIU has been on a trek for that star running back. Julian Reams has all the tools to be that guy, but has yet to put it together. A'mod Ned has the speed, but has also had the injury bug. Yes, the offensive line has to block for anyone to run effectively and we'll get to that, but until his senior season, Smith, never had a great o-line. Incorporating fullback John Ellis more, like MC and Coley did in the spring, will work out. Ellis had some nice runs and caught some passes in March. Be interesting to see what Daunte Owens and Devon Freeman can do. MC said seniority has nothing to do with who plays. May the best back show up this month.
There is a plethora of talent in this group. Ash Parker, Jeremy Dickens and John Houston Whiddon showed some flashes last year during their freshman season. Coaches are really high on incoming freshmen Greg Ellingson, Marquis Rolle, Kendall Berry and Jason Frierson. With the spread offense, these receivers should see plenty of action. Not to mention tight end Moses Hinton, who has made it a habit of dragging tacklers with him when he catches the ball. Plus, there's also tight end Joey Myers, who was so underused last season by the previous coaching staff. This could be the strength of the offense if someone can get them the ball consistently.
Before Tom Cruise took it to the big screen, MI was on TV. The reason I added a question mark to the title is because the o-line's mission: to block people and open up holes for the backs, is not impossible. Last year, there was a complete turnover of the o-line and it showed with Josh Padrick running for his life and backs getting stuck at the line of scrimmage. But with one year under their belts the o-line can only get better, right? Some reinforcements are in with freshmen Brad Serini from New York, Ernest Goodley and Georgia's Chris Cawthon to help out Xavier Shannon, Jeffrey Eugene, Joe Alajajian and Andy Leavine. Plus, there are now 2 coaches to show this unit the way. MC and o-line coach Greg Laffere, both of who were former o-linemen.
The last thing FIU fans want to see is a "Re-run" of last season. Ok, that was a bad pun. My bad. But you get the idea. Most of your e-mails have been asking about the kicking situation this season. As camp draws near, there are 3 candidates looking to win the starting kicking job: incumbent Dustin Rivest, newcomer Chris Abed and quarterback-turned-kicker John Paul Fraites, who was All-State in high school. Rivest had some good moments last season and has worked diligently since last season ended. I saw Abed kick for Cypress Bay High a few games and the kid has a pretty good leg. Fraites, who did not get a chance to kick last season, was all-state so he has talent. Let's see who's lining up for that first field goal in September.
Send in your thoughts and concerns with the offense. On the next blog, we'll turn the channel to the defense.
PANTHER PAWSE No. 26
CJ: The Miami Herald's FIU preview runs on Thursday, August 30.
YouGotGold: TT will have three assistant coaches: a pitching coach, fielding coach and a volunteer assistant.
gpantera: Glad the GPP could bring the Jersey noise.
FIUBlue82: As soon as the July numbers come out, we'll post them. Last month we stayed at No. 4 in sports, but dropped to No. 10 out of 32. Politics, Crime, TV and Gossip blogs leaped the GPP.
FI-UM Fan: They haven't decided which FIU football practices will be open yet, but MC said there will be some that will be open to the public. As soon as I know I'll post it here.
24/7: Read FIU X's explanation in the last blog's comments regarding the politics of the Florida legislature. All that political stuff doesn't really interest me. That's the reason I didn't choose to be a political writer.